My Journey to Becoming an NKT Practitioner
by Dr. Shannon Connolly
During the past 8 months, I have been learning a specific technique called NKT or NeuroKinetic Therapy. I had seen it demonstrated briefly back in chiropractic school and was somewhat skeptical, but an introductory course this past fall has made me a believer! As a practitioner, I think it is important to evaluate new techniques or modalities critically, but to also keep an open mind, as we never have all the answers. The only thing a closed mind will do is limit us to possibilities or modalities that may benefit our practice and our patients. I’m thrilled to be adding NKT to the treatment options available to Core Therapies patients.
What is NeuroKinetic Therapy?
NeuroKinetic Therapy was developed by David Weinstock, an expert Bodyworker who has been practicing Bodywork for over 35 years. He developed NKT while attempting to solve the age old question that many of us as patients (and wellness professionals) may eventually end up asking ourselves at some point: “Why do I come in with pain, go through a treatment session, leave pain-free or with significant improvement, and then return the next week with the same symptoms (often times over and over again)?” In a nutshell, NKT is a technique that primarily looks at compensation/dysfunctional movement patterns from a motor control perspective. The Motor Control Center (MCC) of the brain is located in the cerebellum. This part of the brain stores our movement patterns. The motor control center stores these patterns and directs their completion through the spinal cord and the muscles. Our brains learn movement from the day we are born. Most of these primary patterns are learned within our first year of life. Here’s an example of the MCC in action. Picture a baby learning to stand. Each time the baby tries to stand and falls (i.e. “fails”) the motor control center learns the successful aspects of the attempt. When that program contains enough “correct” information, the baby is finally able to stand. As we go through life, we collect events or experiences leading to the creation or learning of a faulty movement pattern. Think about all those sprains, broken bones, cuts that scar, a car accident or even repetitive habits and activities (i.e. sitting a work!). You probably don’t even know you have developed these patterns. Most of us don’t become conscious of these accumulating issues until there is pain involved. Movement occurs when multiple muscles work together. But what happens when one or more muscles do not have solid connections to your brain? Compensation! Dysfunction! This usually presents itself as pain and tightness. What if you thought your lower back muscles were tight, but actually they were “weak”? You might want to stretch and release them for short-term relief, but I’ll bet the pain or tightness keeps coming back! NKT utilizes manual muscle testing to identify and address compensation patterns in which muscles may test weak (or inhibited) and as a result of that “weakness,” other muscles are forced to work harder and become overactive (or facilitated). These muscle tests are not really testing “strength.” They are testing the ability to react as a neurologic response. It is testing how well you connect to your brain. Think about using your cell phone in a remote area where you get poor reception. Obviously, the solution isn’t to throw away your phone! You would just move to another area for better reception. NKT is testing the “reception” aspect of your nervous system. The manual muscle testing in NKT can be looked at as the key to “retrain” the MCC in order to elicit lasting change in movement patterns. The MCC is open to learning most effectively by failure. This happens when we discover a muscle test that results as “weak.” This “weak” muscle may or may not be where your pain is located. It may not hurt at all. NKT practitioners live by these words: “Don’t chase pain!” The result of the NKT protocol is to “turn off” the muscle that is overworking by a stretch or soft tissue release and to “turn on” the muscle that is underworking through an exercise. If we have discovered the right relationship, you should immediately notice a difference in a reduction of pain, less tightness, more range of motion, etc. However, part of this process does require some extra “homework.” With any new movement, it needs to be repeated in order to become fully ingrained.
NeuroKinetic Therapy has been a game changer for me as a practitioner. I have found tremendous success with this new technique in a very short period of time. However, there is still much to learn and practice with this protocol. It takes time to master the intuitive skill of muscle palpation and manual muscle testing. Finally, it should be stated that NKT does not solve everything. It does have its limits. At the same time, NKT can be extremely useful in solving many lingering issues that may keep you returning time and time again. Come see me and find out what NKT can do for you!