Humans are resilient. In fact, we’re built to endure trauma. Whether facing chronic pain, invasive surgery, or debilitating injury, we’re capable of healing, repairing, and adapting to return even stronger. But sometimes the road to recovery feels like a journey with no end. During these times, we need a new path forward with an ally and healing that’s been there all along: the nervous system. In his new book, The NeuFit Method, Garrett Salpeter helps you reconnect with the nervous system and improve outcomes at every stage of rehab and fitness. Based on Garrett’s proprietary NeuFit methodology and Neubie technology, the solutions in this book will introduce you to a framework for overcoming virtually any physiological challenge. Take the first step in enhancing recovery, boosting performance, and optimizing health in ways you never thought possible, because, with the right neurological inputs, we could unlock a direct path to restored health and higher performance.
Drew Appelbaum: Hey, listeners, my name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with Garrett Salpeter, author of, The NeuFit method: Unleash the Power of the Nervous System for Faster Healing and Optimal Performance.
Garrett, thank you for joining. Welcome to the Author Hour Podcast.
Garrett Salpeter: Thanks for having me, Drew. It’s an honor to be here. I’m excited to chat with you.
Drew Appelbaum: Let’s kick this off. Can you give us a brief rundown of your professional background?
Garrett Salpeter: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been an interesting and a bit of a non-traditional journey. I’m thankful I’ve found a way to combine my educational experience and passion in both engineering and neuroscience. I joke that NeuFit is really the only way, it’s the only place for those— the Venn diagram of those two things overlaps.
My journey really started with an experience I had. I was an athlete, I played ice hockey in college. I had this incredible experience where I had torn ligaments in my wrist, I was supposed to have surgery and out for a few months, and with my previous experiences in the traditional medical model, I figured that would be true. I was very structurally focused thinking that, okay, if the ligaments are torn, that’s the thing. I had this really lucky serendipitous, wonderful experience where I met a doctor who was doing functional neurology. Instead of focusing just on the structure, we looked at the function of the nerves that control the muscles around the injured area; how they looked, at how they were— or were not— supporting the injured tissue as it was healing. We also used a more primitive, earlier version of direct current to accelerate the healing of the actual tissues themselves. Going through this process, it was incredible. It was really a life-changing process for me.
I healed my ligaments. My ligaments were healed on their own in two to two and a half weeks. I avoided surgery altogether. That really was the catalyst for this. I was already – I was physics major, I was set to go to school in engineering, and from a first-principles engineering, scientific perspective, this just made so much sense. Couple that with my experience, I got really excited about it. I came down to the University of Texas in Austin, that’s how I got here in Austin. I completed my Master’s in engineering, and at the same time was researching doing some mentorships, apprenticeships, and self-study, in some of this functional neurology work. Ended up opening a clinic with a doctor here in Austin, doing this about 12 years ago now.
Then I went back for more graduate work in neuroscience to complete or helped improve my understanding of all these topics and learn how to apply them. I’ve been able to, then as I was doing the clinical side, go back and leverage some of my engineering in creating new technology that ultimately became the Neubie Device. We have the NeuFit method and the Neubie Device and that blend of both engineering and neuroscience.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, why was now the time to share the stories in the book. Did you have an “Aha!” moment? Was there something really inspiring out there for you? Or did enough people come up to you and said, “Garrett, people need to know about the NeuFit method? You got to write it down”?
Garrett Salpeter: That’s a great question. A lot of people over the years, for many years, have told me that “you’ve got to write a book. You’ve got to get this out there.” I guess I heard it enough times where it just sunk in. It was in my subconscious. It got to the point where I felt like this was the natural next step. And going back to that experience I had with my own wrist injury— that really incredible experience— one of the biggest parts of that experience for me was, how going through that and the process of going through that experience, I felt this calling to share this work with as many people as I could. I had no idea at the time what it would look like, but that calling was in there and I felt that same thing. It’s that voice inside just saying, you got to do this, you got to do this. It felt that same thing with the book here.
There’s so many stories to share that I think are really inspiring. Even more than that, part of my work I see as helping to shift the dialogue in physical therapy, and chiropractic and athletic training and fitness in all these realms in orthopedic medicine. All these realms that we’re working in, trying to shift the dialogue, to think nervous system first. To look more at function and not only that structure, and it felt like the right time. We’ve gotten enough traction with hundreds and hundreds of practitioners, therapist’s doctors, using NeuFit and felt like the right time to get it out to even more people.
Drew Appelbaum: Now during the writing process, maybe by doing some research, or just by digging deeper into some of the subjects. Did you have any major breakthroughs or learnings on the subject?
Garrett Salpeter: Well, that’s a really good question. I did. I definitely did. It’s been a long process. I actually have been writing this off and on for over probably five years. I’ve been able to refine a lot of my knowledge over that time, learn a lot. I had an idea of what I thought it would look like when I set out, especially from the realm of applying neuroscience into rehabilitation and fitness.
Then a lot of the other things I learned, because I was trying to present a complete picture— I was looking at it from the perspective of, okay, if I’m a reader, how coherent is this message? How congruent and complete is all of it? Does it all make sense? So, looking at it from that perspective, inspired me to dig deeper, look at different journals and studies. We have 300-something scientific references in the book. It’s not like an academic Encyclopedia style thing, but there is a lot of scientific evidence in there. To your question, I learned a lot more about some of the elements that are a little bit outside of my day-to-day, expertise, and specialties in terms of neuroscience principles. I learned a lot about some of the elements of nutrition and sleep and the other components that of course, lead to better outcomes and help people feel better and function better and that have profound effects on the nervous system, but are not things that we do in the clinic.
Rounding out that, I think, was one of the biggest things. And in the book, I believe we present a very compelling case for why those are important, not just for general health, but specifically looking through the lens of neurological function, the health and overall function of the nervous system specifically, and those were some of the bigger pieces that I got to fill in there.
Drew Appelbaum: When you were writing the book, in your mind, who are you writing the book for? As you mentioned, is this for therapy centers? Is this for PT coaches? Or is this for injured patients? Who could have takeaways from the book?
NeuFit Is a Unique Method of Healing That Is Accessible to All
Garrett Salpeter: That’s a very good question. It was a blend of definitely the therapist, doctor, clinician, people who are working with patients and clients and can benefit from applying neuroscience into their day-to-day practice. That was part of this. I want to make a compelling case for why they should start to think nervous system first, for how working neurologically can create these transformative experiences for their patients and clients.
It’s also accessible enough that the everyday person can pick it up and get something out of it either that they can learn and apply on their own to help improve their quality of life, which is awesome. I certainly hope the book can add value to people’s lives that. Perhaps it may also inspire them to seek out a doctor or therapist who offers NeuFit and the Neubie Device near them and they may want to go try it out to help with some aches and pains they’ve been experiencing or to help them recover from an injury or surgery. Or, if they or a relative have had a stroke and they want to recover. They want to do something to optimize their fitness and performance. Hopefully, it’ll inspire them to find a practitioner near them and to get to experience some of this work firsthand as well.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, you mentioned a few times, so I’d love to dig into it a little bit more. Can you talk about what the differences are between the NeuFit method and traditional approaches to rehab?
Garrett Salpeter: Absolutely, yeah. In my experience, a lot of traditional rehabilitation is very structurally based and it’s if the line of thinking would be— if, Drew, if your ligament is damaged or you sprain this or tore that, that of course is it’s something that needs to be addressed and has to heal but it’s typically focused only on that tissue. It’ll be braced, it’ll be surgically repaired, it’ll be stretched in order to address that tissue, it will be maybe quelled, or the irritation reduced through anti-inflammatory medications, but there’s not really, from my perspective, not enough of an impetus to look at. First of all, what went wrong that allowed that to happen in the first place? And second of all, looking at the neurological response to that injury, and how that actually delays and hinders the overall healing process.
What I mean by that, is so many people that are in the situation— like when I had my wrist injury, for example, just think, oh, yeah, you know what, because it usually is going to require surgery and take three months, that’s what it’s going to be for me. The problem is that that usual timeline is based on the usual recovery process, which includes these neurological responses to trauma.
If you hurt your shoulder, Drew, for example, your body is going to brace and guard and protect. It’s going to create a lot of tension in some muscles is going to turn off other muscles to try to prevent you from moving that shoulder, trying to bring you from moving your arm. And that can be productive, if that bracing or guarding, protects you if you have another impact, and you get hit again or something that. But it’s actually counterproductive, certainly for efficient movement. It’s counterproductive for healing because you’re essentially sealing that area off by creating excessive tension, you’re literally diminishing the flow of blood, which is your body’s way of bringing the raw materials and the nutrients to help heal that tissue.
So in some ways, you are getting in the way; blocking your body’s own healing process. And that’s a big part of why it takes so darn long to heal from these different injuries. By prioritizing that neurological response by thinking nervous system first, by addressing those protective responses to trauma, we’re able to get the body in a state where it can heal at its natural rate. Oftentimes, because it’s so much faster than the average— the usual time course, that often seems miraculous. So, opening people’s minds to these possibilities is a big part of our motivation. I think that’s one of the major differences.
Then looking neurologically, in addition to helping— I’m tempted to say a “shortcut”, but it’s not really a shortcut— in the recovery process, it’s really just getting out of the way those impediments that would normally block it, so they can go at its normal rate. The normal rate feels like a shortcut, but it should be the normal rate. In addition to helping with that recovery from injury or trauma, surgery would be like that, because of surgeries and other controlled trauma of the body. Then looking neurologically can also help chronic pain patients.
For example, because let’s say, instead of coming to us with a fresh shoulder injury, Drew, let’s say you came in with a case of fibromyalgia or some chronic pain syndrome. Being able to apply this modern understanding of the neuroscience of pain would also help us in treating you because, with the Neubie Device, we’d be able to scan around on your body and tell you exactly where your brain is perceiving an elevated sense of threat, where you are hypersensitive. Why that’s important is that we know pain is a response generated by the brain that’s a response to the perceived threat. That perceived threat could be real or imagined, right?
It could be psychological. It could be the fear of losing your job or losing a spouse or something. Or it could be physical. It could be like, I just got hit in the leg and it hurts a lot, I need to stay off it while it heals. That perception of threat is always— whether it’s from a psychological or physical cause— it’s going to be held in the body and we can identify where that is. And by identifying where that is and then, of course, we want to treat it. By identifying what is, we can know where we need to apply the treatment, we can reset those pathways, reset that hypersensitivity by working on the body through the nervous system, and actually affect the perception of threat in the brain to reduce chronic pain.
There’s stories in there, in the book, about how applying these principles have also helped some dramatic cases of chronic pain. That’s really the difference is this nervous system first approach and because the nervous system is the common thread that woven among all these different scenarios among recovery from injury and surgery, and chronic pain and recovery from neurological injuries or diseases like stroke or MS and how well we’re able to sustain and perform in fitness and sports performance programs. Since the nervous system is the common thread through all of those, by focusing on this approach, by thinking Nervous System first, by using technology to re-educate, reset, or reprogram the nervous system, we’re able to help people in a very profound way across all of these domains.
Drew Appelbaum: You say nervous system first, but can you set just a baseline for us? What exactly is the role of the nervous system and its effect on the body and recovery? What’s the connection there?
Garrett Salpeter: That is a great question, a very basic piece. I might have gotten so excited, I skipped over the basics here. I apologize about that. The nervous system controls everything about the body. The brain and nervous system control every muscle movement, which of course is relevant in rehab and fitness. Controls hormones that are released in the body. Controls blood flow and heart rate and blood pressure. Controls of course our cognition, our mind, our emotional state. Controls within movement, drilling down further movement, muscle tension, and strength output, it controls the experience of pain, the brain creates the experience of pain as a way to tell our bodies to not do something or to do something different.
So, the nervous system really controls everything. And that’s part of why we make this case that we believe we should focus on the nervous system and think nervous system first because it controls everything. We have a chance to have these transformative experiences in how people recover, and how they improve their fitness and really their overall health, because when the nervous system and the brain start working better, that literally upgrades, up-regulates, improves everything.
A New Approach to Recovery and Healing
Drew Appelbaum: The question is, why hasn’t this type of treatment really gone mainstream yet? Why do we still have these 1000s of traditional physical therapy places in every city?
Garrett Salpeter: That is a great question. I think that there’s a few reasons. Hopefully getting this book out there and our message and the movement that we have within the NeuFit community here will help make this more widely accepted. I’ve already seen that it—that it will continue and will influence more and more clinicians, doctors, therapists, coaches, all the people who are working with patients, clients, athletes. So, I’m optimistic that some of it’s happening, and that we can help lead and grow that movement.
Some of it, I think, is a view— it’s almost the difference between Newtonian and quantum physics. Not to get too woo-woo or too out there, but it’s just a different way of looking at the world. It’s Newtonian versus quantum, structure versus function. I think there’s a lot of benefit in the structural component and a lot of it certainly is important. I think a lot of us are enamored with what we see and what we feel. We think, “Oh because it hurts there, I must be broken there. That must be the cause.” In some ways, we’re tricked by our own experience. That’s one of the things that we’ve learned in this, this modern neuroscience of pain in the last couple of decades and that’s part of what’s opening up. So, part of the answer to the question is that this information is fairly new and it’s still catching on. Because if my knee hurts, or my something hurts I think I just naturally instinctively think, “Oh, it hurts there, something must be wrong there, something must be broken or damaged there.” But then there’s this question of, well, what happens if the injury is healed, and it still hurts 3, 6, 12, 24 months later? What’s going on there?
Being able to fill in the gaps with this understanding of pain is really one of the major keys, one of the major breakthroughs. There’s a couple of interesting things here. There’s several well-validated, well-documented studies that if you look, for example, at back pain, 50 percent of people in their 50s who don’t have any back pain at all, will still have a disk, or other spinal issues that show up on an MRI, and yet they don’t have pain. And people think, “Oh, it’s my disc. It’s this or that that’s causing me back pain,” but people can have the disc issue and not have pain. There’s more to it. There’s this perception of threat from other causes, not just physical.
Understanding that people can have damage and not have pain, and people can have pain that’s not caused by damage; that’s one of the biggest conceptual breakthroughs I think that helps start people down this line of thinking, this path of assessing and treating.
I think that the modern neuroscience of pain, and then technology, like the Neubie Device that we’re sharing, technology like that, that helps us actually apply those principles, is going to be one of the keys that helps more people. Even if they’re interested in this but don’t know how to apply it, then it will help them be able to apply those principles in day-to-day treatment and day-to-day practice.
Drew Appelbaum: Can you talk about in the general sense, how someone can really monitor their nervous system health, and maybe what some of the benefits are?
Garrett Salpeter: Yeah, that’s a very good question. There’s a section on this in the book. This is something that I think is very important. Of course, if we’re talking about how vital the nervous system is, how it controls everything about the body. It is a very good question to ask. If it’s that important, how can I know that it’s working for me not against me? How can I know that I’m influencing it to move in the right way? There are very good indicators of nervous system function. Many people listening to this have likely, either used or have heard of these various wearable devices, like the Oura ring, or the Biostrap wristband, or the Whoop band or Fitbit, that track sleep quality and track your heart rate variability.
Heart rate variability is a big one because that is a measurement of the balance of nervous system inputs to the heart, between the sympathetic or the fight or flight stress side of the nervous system, and the parasympathetic, rest and digest that more recovery-oriented side of the nervous system. So that balance is really important. That’s one of the biggest problems. It’s when that gets out of balance, we spend too much time in that fight or flight system that leads to numerous lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, and blood sugar dysregulation that can lead to diabetes or other metabolic diseases. Can lead to digestive issues and problems with waste elimination, and constipation. These are some of the most common issues, most common health issues, that people have. They’re related to this nervous system being in this excessive fight or flight, nervous system state for extended periods of time.
That’s one, is heart rate variability and then, of course, the absence of those other systems. Having healthy blood pressure, healthy appetite, digestion, elimination, all that stuff. And then really looking at energy levels at sleep. Those are good indicators. I would encourage people— and you don’t even need any tools for this— but ask yourself, if you’re wondering this, do I have enough energy to get through all of my tasks during the day? Am I able to be present and aware and focused and effective? Do I need an extra cup of coffee? Do I need a sugary snack to help me get through the afternoon? Or if I have a lull, can I do a little bit of breathing? Or take a quick walk? Take a quick rest and come back and be on for the rest of the day?
That’s another big one is energy levels. The effects of chronic stress; the absence of those are good indicators. The presence of those as a good indicator too, of course, to try to change. In the book, there’s a whole chapter on those indicators and what to look at and how to interpret them, and what they mean, and how to take action to improve or change them.
Adopt a Practice Into Your Everyday Routine
Drew Appelbaum: Now, how do you hope readers will use this book?
Garrett Salpeter: There’s a few different ways that I certainly hope people will get value out of the book. One would be to adopt a practice. Maybe it’s doing some joint mobilization exercises, changing something that’s in your warm-up routine that you do when you get up in the morning or before you exercise that can help keep your joints healthy and pain-free, and supple and flexible and mobile over time. Maybe it’s taking some of the breathing exercises that help regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide to reduce stress levels in the body to help the body be more healthy and more efficient and actually improve, deliver blood flow and nutrient delivery throughout the body. Maybe, it’s other practices related to sleep or nutrition that specifically target the brain and nervous system and help improve function in the brain and nervous system.
Maybe it’s reading a story about a person who has something a similar challenge that you are experiencing, or that a family member is experiencing. Maybe that inspires you to reach out and find a NeuFit practitioner, or it inspires you to get— if you’re a clinician to buy a device, or try out a device in your practice. I think there’s a few different things that could come from it if the message is able to resonate with people, which of course, we hope that it will and we certainly intend that it will.
Drew Appelbaum: Now the book is very thorough, but if people want to dig and dive deeper into the subject, can you recommend any other resources for readers or listeners?
Garrett Salpeter: That’s a great question. The book— at the back of the book, there’s about 300-something scientific references. Any of those— a lot of them are individual scientific papers. Some of them are other books. Then there’s a few that I would recommend if people are interested in some of the neuroscience concepts here. There’s some really good books on therapeutic neuroscience education. That’s a really good one. You can type that in to Google Therapeutic Neuroscience Education is good; that’s about this modern understanding of pain. There’s different multiple different textbooks and motor control that could be helpful.
One of my favorite books is called, The Body Electric, by Robert Becker, which speaks to the power of electric fields in the body and is part of the underpinnings of this work. In the book, we also talk about the Polyvagal Theory by Steven Porges, who’s a psychiatrist, who wrote this book and numerous papers. These are some of the neurological concepts and then, there’s other books on different elements of it that I think are good resources.
I was fortunate to have Dave Asprey of Bulletproof, if people have heard of Bulletproof Coffee or some of his products. He wrote an endorsement for the book for which I’m very grateful. I thought that was wonderful. I like his books on— particularly he’s a proponent of putting grass-fed butter in coffee to add more fat and help regulate blood sugar. Even if you don’t want to go into a keto diet or anything, by no means am I saying everybody has to do that. If you don’t want to do that, getting healthy fats in the body— some of his books are a really good case for getting healthy fats, regulating blood sugar. And he has good strategies for reducing inflammation too because inflammatory responses to foods are some of the biggest triggers of inflammation—generally in the body– some of the biggest reasons that we lose energy, that we feel brain fog, or that we lose brain and nervous system function and vitality. So, that can be good resources. I mentioned him, because it’s a popular science, very accessible, very well researched, but there is, other very good resources out there.
There’s a couple of good books. There’s a couple of good ones on sleep, Michael Breus is the author, I forget the name of the book, he’s a doctor. Yeah, there’s a lot of different ones, Breath by James Nestor is a good one for a deeper dive on breathing. There’s a lot of good books that I’ve read in and that I recommend to others. This covers all those topics, but if people want a deeper dive in any of those specific topics, there’s good books and good resources.
Drew Appelbaum: Garrett, well, we just touched on the surface of the book here. I want to say that just writing a book where you’re really just changing the game on how people can heal is no small feat. Congratulations on having your book published!
Garrett Salpeter: Thank you so much. It really— it’s exciting. It feels like the culmination of the last 15 plus years of my life. I feel proud of it. I’m humbled and honored to be able to share it. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that it will impact people in a positive way. I’m grateful to everyone who’s listening to this and besides to check out the book.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, this has been a pleasure. I’m really excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, The NeuFit Method. You could find it on Amazon. Garrett, besides checking out the book, where else can people connect with you?
Garrett Salpeter: We are most active— in terms of social media channels, most active on Instagram, and I’m on our business channel, which is @NeuFitrfp. It’s “neu” like “neurological”, fit, and then “RFP” for “rehab fitness performance”. We’re on there and then our website is www.neu.fit, a lot of good information on there. You’ll be able to connect with us. If you’re interested in reaching out asking any questions, you can definitely connect with my team and me through either of those channels.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, Garrett, thank you so much for coming on the show today and giving us some of your time and best of luck with your new book.
Garrett Salpeter: Thanks, Drew. I appreciate it. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Really wonderful conversation.