Chair Yoga for Back Pain

Chair Yoga for Back PainIf you are like me, you experience occasional to chronic back tension or pain. If you want to feel better, you need to move better. The most important place for you to move your body is the very place you spend the most amount of time… your chair. If you sit to make a living… you need to move from that very seat you’re on now. And not just a little… you need to do it often… throughout the day… the more the better… Chair Yoga for Back Pain.

A big goal of mine is to teach you how to integrate 60-120 minutes of cumulative movement… performed in multiples of 30 seconds, 1-5 minute increments, and a 20-30 minute movement sessions… every day, including your preferred sports, activities, and hobbies.

This may sound like a lot, but It is totally doable. The good thing is that the movements you need to do don’t take much time or effort.  And the best part is that they provide an amazing payoff.  As long as you do them Pain-Free, I’m certain that you will feel much better physically and mentally. Your work productivity will improve. You’ll feel increased energy, reduce pain and injury; and so much more.

Monday Movement Flow of the Week

Below is a three-part video series of super sweet chair movements. When combined, they make for a healthier spine; ease back tension and pain; as well as provide an overall enormous bang for your movement buck. If you’re not already practicing full three-dimensional spinal movement, then I suggest starting here.

I will be practicing these movements with you. I will post my daily flow on Instagram and Facebook. These movements are important for your body. In my videos and descriptions, you will see a few of the great feeling variations of movement you can add to this very simple flow.

My challenge to you is… Do these movements, NON-PAINFULLY, every day, at least once/sitting day – up to once for every 1-2 hours that you sit. Keep the repetitions low 3-5 reps per movement. Once you have the movements down, it should only take 1-3 minutes to go through this flow. I’m more concerned with frequency throughout the day than massive reps at any one point during the day.

Begin the movement exploration easy and reach a little further with each extension, so that your last is the longest. REMINDER: Pain-Free! Try it out for a week and let me know how your body feels.

Chair Yoga for Back Pain

No Pain:
In each of these movements. If you feel pain. Stop first!!! Tell me second. Send me a message or leave a comment and tell me what you’re feeling. I can’t promise to have the solution, but I may be able to point you in a helpful direction. I will be addressing pain in some upcoming posts… If you don’t want to miss them… subscribe to my blog on my website (on the annoying pop-up window to the bottom right corner).

Seated Cat/Cow

Early on, I like to focus my exhale with spinal flexion of the cat… and inhale with the extension of the cow. Paying attention to the fullness of my breath. Can I fill my chest? Ribs? Belly? And pelvic floor? Do I feel tension or resistance? I breathe into it softly until the tension opens and releases into a fuller breathe… then I reverse my breath… and feel for more tension.

I love this movement because I can feel the full segmental flexion and extension of my spine. And when I can’t because of back tension or pain… my body knows the movements… and these movements can help release the tension… reducing the pain.

This can be done with head held in extension or allowing full flexion similar to traditional quadrupedal cat/cows. I also like to add in head and neck mobility in both positions.


Seated Side Body Lengthening
2 of 3 Chair Yoga videos

Pay attention to the fullness of your breath. Can you fill your chest? Ribs? Belly? And pelvic floor? Do you feel tension or resistance? Breathe into it softly until the tension opens and releases into a fuller breathe… Next… reverse your breath… and feel for more tension.

I love this movement for how it lengthens my spine in lateral extension without moving the opposite side into lateral flexion… and I can feel it from my fingertips, throughout my arm and shoulder, through my low back side body, into hips, down to the knee. This is a position of length that our bodies rarely experience… and desperately need.

Seated Rotation

Same as above.

I love this movement for its focus on the relationship between the thoracic spine to hips. I can feel spine move segment by segment… I can sense which joints are allowing movement and which are holding it down. Once I find a good spot… I will softly move in and out of it… encouraging length… without forcing it. It should feel like a soft stretch… not massive.

Did you found these videos helpful? Please check out my Patreon page to learn how you can help support this work.

Please pardon the editing. With your help, I am working on hiring a content manager 😊

Jumping and Landing

Do you jump well?

Jumping and Landing

Woman doing box jump Jumping is a powerful exercise with many great benefits. However, your jumping is only as good as your ability to land efficiently.

Landing is the equivalent of the brakes on your car. It’s your ability to slow down or stop momentum. It is your body’s ability to absorb the energy of impact. The inability to land efficiently is a huge reason for pain and injury.
Landing is one of the most important movement skills that most people don’t do well. Something that makes landing doubly important is it is a part of the ONE movement you do more than any other… Walking/Running Gait mechanics.

If you don’t land well, then every step you take loads a poor movement pattern into your body. If you take the recommended 10,000 steps a day, eventually something is going to hurt.

Landing Phase of Gait
Jumping and Landing

With each footfall, impact energy should be absorbed throughout the kinetic chain of your body – i.e. joint by joint from your feet to head and back out through the opposite foot – like a loaded spring.

When this full body loaded spring isn’t functioning optimally due to injury, overtraining, or just lack of use, it is unable to absorb and unload energy efficiently. This creates energy leaks somewhere in the kinetic chain. Your body still has to slow down or stop momentum, so the load of impact is leaked out into the less absorptive areas of your structure – such as directly into the joints. This can create all kinds of secondary compensations and pain.

And because landing is a full body movement, the compensations and pain can be anywhere. Maybe that pain your neck is actually coming from the how your body interacts with the ground?

I put a huge focus of my program design on teaching and integrating the skill of efficient landing because it is so important for the prevention of pain and injury.

Learn to land well so that when you jump, the sky’s limit.

Does Massage Therapy Solve Your Pain

Does Massage Therapy Solve Your Pain?

Do you have a standing massage therapy appointment? Do you foam roll the same areas each week? Does this provide Massage therapy - Austin Texas - The Art of Fitnesstemporary relief, but eventually the same aches and pains come back? If so, something is missing in your fitness and wellness approach.

As a massage therapist, I cannot fix you with massage therapy! No massage therapist or movement therapist can fix you. You are not broken.

How you move is directly related to how well you feel.

Hands on massage therapy is an incredibly valuable tool. Massage therapy is a tool in my movement arsenal. However, by itself, massage therapy is limited. If you want to feel better in your body, you must focus on the quality of your movement. How you feel will alway comes back to how well you move. If you move better, you will feel better.

I can help most people get out of pain through massage. However, If all my focus is on table work, you will leave my office and go back to the exact same movement patterns that caused your pain to begin with. The pain will eventually come back.

Want the pain to stay away? Learn to move well.

This is what I teach… how to move better. I develop a Personalized Exercise Program so that through your own movement practice, you begin to heal yourself. This is where the magic happens.

Move better to feel better

The Art of Movement Effienciency

Movement efficiency is a lost art in today’s fitness industry

Movement Efficiency - Personal Training and CoachingWith the desire to work hard and look fit, we are sacrificing movement efficiency – moving well – for conditioning. This is why you hurt!

I don’t care how hard you can workout. Anyone can workout hard. That’s easy. How well you move takes practice. Instead I focus on how efficiently you can work.

During Personal Training and Coaching sessions, I teach clients to learn and perform movement with skill… First, second, and last! As you learn the skill of movement efficiency, you can then apply load and intensity to improve conditioning, but you are always applying the art of movement efficiency.

Conditioning isn’t sacrificed. You gain both competency of movement and conditioning. Your conditioning is built upon a stable foundation of movement skill.

Move well, feel well. Be strong to be helpful.

The Art of Fitness Austin Texas Newsletter Update

The Art of Fitness Austin Texas is moving!

Oak Hill Fitness, Austin, TexasWe are happy to announce that The Art of Fitness Austin Texas will be partnering up with Oak Hill Fitness beginning March 1st, 2015!!!

Oak Hill Fitness is a sweet little indoor and outdoor gym located on Old Bee Caves Road, just about a mile off west 290/71. We will be working alongside some great trainers and coaches who offer Yoga, martial arts training, personal training, and group workouts… What I’m most excited about is they have a nice outdoor obstacle course!

Check out the Oak Hill Fitness website and like them on Facebook to learn more….

Oak Hill Fitness
7401 Old Bee Caves Rd
Austin, Texas 78735

This new space will give The Art of Fitness Austin Texas the opportunity to continue growing and expanding the level of top notch pain elimination, injury prevention, movement skill development, and athletic performance services we offer our wonderful clients. Speaking of expanded services… Are you aware of just how much our services have grown? Check out our updated website and see for yourself.

I’m Going To Go Over The Edge…You Can Help!

Over the Edge Austin supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation Austin Texas.The Art of Fitness Austin Texas is raising funds and awareness for Make-A-Wish® Central & South Texas by joining 200 people on June 13 & 14, 2015, to go Over The Edge – literally! Jesse James Retherford will rappel 38 stories down W Austin in the heart of downtown.

More than 350 children in central and south Texas are diagnosed each year with a life-threatening medical condition. Last year, Make-A-Wish® Central & South Texas granted more than 230 wishes for local children. You can help Make-A-Wish® reach more of these children and create hope, strength and joy in their lives. Money raised by rappellers goes towards granting these wishes.

Help The Art of Fitness Austin Texas conquer Jesse James Retherford’s fears (yes repelling over the edge of a 38 story building sounds kind of scary) and raise money for Make-A-Wish Austin. We need to be one of the first 200 to raise $1500 and Jesse James will get to rappel the W Austin in Downtown Austin. We don’t want to miss out.

If you donate just $10 or more, you would help us achieve this death defying goal, and make a huge difference in the lives of children who need it most!

Donate to Over the Edge Austin supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation Austin, Texas.

Please share this post with your friends. Make-A-Wish is a worthy cause.

Offering Pain Elimination, a Pain Free Future, and Warrior Care

Warrior Care backflip. The Art of Fitness Austin Texas.It is our passion to help each of you move and feel better in your body and in your life. By following this passion I continue to dive deeper and deeper into what IS natural human movement and how to develop the movement skills that not only eliminate pain right now, but also keep us pain and injury free well into our advanced years.


Personally, I want to be able to get up and down from the floor with ease and grace; climb trees; and crawl on the floor with my grandchildren well into my 90’s. I know that to have these skills later in life, I must develop them as a practice right now.


This has lead me into taking some amazing course work; studying walking and running gait analysis, movement assessment, and advanced natural movement workshops; and mentoring with some of the top trainers, anatomists, coaches, and movement therapists from around the world. It has expanded the level of movement therapy that I offer. The results are really paying off with the results I am seeing with clients and I would like to share with you the new level of services I am offering. Check out updated The Art of Fitness Austin Texas website or better yet give me a call.

[clicktocall number=5125872283]512-587-2283[/clicktocall]

What is NeuroKinetic Therapy

“I want to exercise, but it hurts when I move!”

When it comes to pain and discomfort, there is no longer any need to “deal with it.” NeuroKinetic Therapy is a powerful movement assessment used as both diagnostic tool and rehabilitative technique. It is incredibly effective for eliminating pain; improving walking/running gait, correcting poor posture, creating a pain and injury prevention program, and enhancing athletic performance. For many, treatment can result in nearly instantaneous relief from pain and discomfort.

The Art of Fitness is your local NeuroKinetic Therapy Austin TX therapist

Instead of chasing the symptoms of muscle tightness, soreness, and/or pain which can become a guessing game; NKT identifies the root cause of pain through direct assessment of the relationship of painful compensation patterns in the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

In essence, an NKT movement assessment is asking the body:

“why does it hurt when you move this way? What do we need to do differently to make this movement non painful?”

The answers to these questions determine the specific patterns of imbalance, dysfunction, and compensation that are leading to pain and injury.

During an NKT session, we will assess the specific movements that are causing pain or dysfunction. As an example:

Your knee hurts when you run

A person with knee pain seeks Neurokinetic Therapy Austin relief.

We will analyze your walking/running gait as well as assess the function of specific muscles involved in a running from head to toe. Much of this work is done on the table. We perform hands on manual muscle tests to determine the compensation patterns i.e. which muscles are overworking — compensating, and which ones are underworking — inhibited. Once these compensation patterns are determined, we perform a Hands on massage therapy release on the compensating muscle and immediately strengthen the inhibited muscle with a corrective exercise to reprogram the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. We will then reassess the original movement, walking and running, for improvement. Once a primary compensation pattern is determined, you receive a daily personalized exercise program. The daily exercise program reprograms, trains, and reinforces this renewed efficient pain free movement as a permanent habit. You build a renewed way of moving and being in the world… Pain free.

If you ever experience pain or discomfort, perhaps caused by an acute injury or from simply living life, email or call The Art of Fitness and schedule a free NeuroKinetic Therapy Austin consultation. We will work together to craft an individualized set of treatments for you, so that you can eliminate pain,  feel better, move better, and live better.

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If you’re interested in learning more about NKT, check out these articles: Stop Chasing Pain and What is NeuroKinetic Therapy.

Don't Fear the Wobble

“Wow, I have a balance problem.”
“No, You have a fear the wobble problem.”

Last week I was working with a personal training client. The exercises I had her doing became super challenging to her balance. She began to wobble and said, “Wow, I have a balance problem.” My response was “No! You don’t have a balance problem. You have a fear the wobble problem. Your balance is doing exactly what it is supposed to. It’s working! And that’s a good thing.”

Balancing on a fallen tree. Don't Fear the Wobble

For many of my clients, falling is a real concern. A fall can lead to bruises, broken bones, pain, and chronic injury. Most of my clients have an understandable fear of falling. This is the main reason I get my clients out of their comfort zone and focus a great deal of attention on including balance challenging exercises into training sessions. Balance is a skill, and just like any skill it improves when practiced well and diminishes when ignored.

Don’t Fear the Wobble

With a fear of falling comes a fear of being off balance… or a fear of the wobble. The “wobble” is my term for the neurological edge of where we still have control of our body in space before gravity takes over pulling us down to the ground with a loud and uncomfortable thud.

Fearing the wobble is understandable. An injury due to a fall can be devastating. However, there is a problem when the fear of the wobble or fear of a fall leads a change in movement behavior. The fear of the wobble means we are less likely to explore movement that is anywhere near our neural edge. Instead we pick smaller ranges of movements that are stable and safe. We stay within our “comfort zone”. We are less likely to move into physical spaces that makes us feel wobbly. This means that over time, we move less and explore smaller ranges of our movement potential. When we don’t explore the spaces outside of our comfort zone… our comfort zone literally shrinks. Eventually, the edges of movement that once felt stable begin to feel weak, unbalance, and wobbly. Again we retreat our movement even further back into a “safe” zone. This becomes a cycle that feeds into itself until standing and walking become wobbly, where the neural edge has become the distance of each step.

Next time you are at a grocery store take notice of how people 10, 20, or 30 years older than you move and walk. Notice how many people shuffle along.  They don’t shuffle because they are old (which I write about here). It is because their comfort zone as well as their neural edge have grown so small. You can see how the fear of falling resides with each step. Even at advanced age, this can be improved significantly.

When the simple act of walking becomes wobbly we are at our greatest risk of falling. The unfortunate irony of this fear the wobble cycle is that instead of being safer the risk of falling actually increases. The smaller the neural edge, the less time we’ve spent training within specific fundamental movement patterns. If on our way through the parking lot, we slip or trip, the less time and room our nervous system has available before we reach the event horizon or point of no return. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I incorporate exercises that challenge the skills of balance into every personal training session. It is in these wobbly edges that our nervous system lights up, becomes re engaged, and challenged to support and prevent falling. By exploring the wobble, in a safe way, our edge expands wider providing a larger, more stable range to safely move. In essence, we push the event horizon further and further out. I want my clients to explore the wobbly edge in a SAFE environment where they won’t fall. So that when in “real” life, when they find themselves in an “unbalanced” position, and they truly need the ability to find balance… they have the skillset available to find it. But this means they must move and train outside their comfort zone.

Our comfort zone feels safe. In it we feel strong and capable. It’s called a comfort zone for a reason. This is where we have been successful for a long time. It’s where we spend the most time. This is not a good thing. When we remain inside our comfort zone for too long, we become rigid and inflexible. The world in which we move becomes smaller. Our strengths diminish. We become less capable and ultimately less successful. There is no growth by remaining in the comfort zone. You must push beyond fear the wobble resistance, and move outside your comfort zone to expand, grow, and evolve.

Much of the work I do involves moving people beyond their comfort zone. I want to challenge them. To do this, I set up a safe environment to challenge this fear and insecurity. I want them to see their fear, step forward into the wobble, and move freely beyond it. It is at the edges of our comfort zone that our nervous system gets really charged up. We work harder, break into a sweat, and feel challenged. This is where the magic happens. This is where we grow. In 10, 20, or 30 years do you want to shuffle in a small comfort zone fearing each next step? Do you want to fear the wobble? Or do you want to explore a world of movement with no edges?

The Vibrams Settlement

Vibrams Settlement: People who bought these Vibrams FiveFinger shoes may be entitled to a refund

Vibrams Five Finger minimalist shoes. Vibrams Settlement.

Last week, the Vibrams Settlement story blew up on my Facebook page. I was immediately asked for my opinion on the Vibrams settlement by several different people. Here are my thoughts.

People are making a big of a deal out of this Vibrams settlement, but in my opinion it is a total non story. It’s pretty simple. Vibram made a claim they couldn’t back up with scientific research. The basics of the claim was that simply wearing Vibrams Five Finger minimalist shoes would strengthen the muscles of your foot and decrease injuries. The fact that Vibrams settled has nothing to do with whether the claim is true or not. And since Vibrams hasn’t admitted any guilt or wrong-doing, we really don’t know why they decided to settle. It’s possible that Vibrams felt it was cheaper to settle than to fight this lawsuit further.

The reality of barefoot shoes is this:
If your structure is solid and you have NO MOVEMENT DYSFUNCTION, then training barefoot/minimalist will make your feet stronger than training in highly structured shoes. If you are a loyal reader of my blog, you will know I consider this kind of a no brainer. If the intrinsic musculature of the foot is allowed to function properly, it will get stronger with training. Just like with any other muscle. And if you brace a joint (which is what an arch support does), the muscles of that joint will grow weaker. So with perfect structure and good bio-mechanical movement, Vibrams claim is true. However…

If you do have dysfunction in your structure and you train with this dysfunction, you highly increase your risk of pain and injury. Your shoes, any shoes from five fingers to Hokas, will not fix this problem. They may help hide the pain for awhile, but eventually the dysfunction will rule movement.

The reality is that If you have dysfunction in your structure and in your bio-mechanics, then It does not matter what is on your feet (minus a few obvious shoe choices such as high heels and flip flops, but that is another story altogether). It’s not the shoes that are the problem, it’s the dysfunction in the structure and mechanics that needs to be addressed. Add barefoot/minimalist shoes to a poor structure and poor mechanics, and you’re going to exacerbate problems and actually increase your likelihood of injury.

So if you have dysfunction in your structure and biomechanics, then the Vibram settlement claim is not only false, but also potentially harmful. Training minimalist/barefoot, will actually increase your likelihood of injury. To truly get the benefit out of moving barefoot/minimalist, you have to treat your underlying structural and bio-mechanical issues first.

My professional/experiential advice:
I do not recommend making a drastic transition to barefoot/minimalist shoes especially if you have movement dysfunction. Again, your number one priority needs to be addressing your structure and mechanics. Here is one of my favorite posts on the effects of attempting to train through dysfunction.

I do recommend a conservatively slow transition into barefoot/minimalist shoes for people with solid structural mechanics. I look for a shoe that does not control your natural movement, but allows natural movement to take place. Here are a couple of my favorite shoes that I recommend regularly Luna Sandals and Soft Star Shoes (affiliate links).

If you are interested in transitioning into a barefoot/minimalist lifestyle, here are a couple of articles I wrote that may help with your transition here, and here.

If you’re injured, don’t look for barefoot/minimalist shoes to fix your problems. There are no magic fixes. It takes work and you’ll need the help of a movement therapist. This is the type of help that I offer.

It Hurts When I Run

It hurts when I run

This past week on The Injury Corner — a Facebook group I created to offer guidance and support for people dealing with chronic pain and injury — there was a great discussion with some helpful nuggets I wanted to share.

We talked about whether barefoot running can help heal low back pain and instability to the sacroiliac (SI) joint, and the difficulty of being told the activity you love may be hurting you.

I find these two subjects to be especially valuable and important both professionally and personally. As a movement specialist, I see many people struggling with the issues of pain while performing the activities they’re passionate about. As an active former athlete, I’ve struggled with the exact same issues myself.

anatomy pics of pelvis and sacroiliac joint. It hurts when I run.
It hurts when I run. Does barefoot running help heal low back pain and potential instability to the sacroiliac (SI) joint?

I have lived a barefoot/minimalist lifestyle for over five years. However, I have been unable to run consistently for the past three. I have gait dysfunction connected to 5 knee surgeries, and a long list of other injuries associated with sports, stubbornness, and my reckless youth. The gait dysfunction shows in my body’s ability to absorb the impact energy of footfall as it transfers up the kinetic chain through my ankles, knees, hips, spine, and shoulders.

leaf springs of a large truck. It hurts when I runSpring mechanism of the arch of the foot. It hurts when I run

Some quick anatomical mechanics: As you can see in the pictures above, the arches of the foot create a spring leaf suspension system similar to that of a truck. This system absorbs the energy of each step, distributes this energy equally throughout your fascial system, and re-releases the energy through the propulsion phase of your gait.

With this dysfunction in my suspension system, the arch is unable to act like a nice shock absorbing spring, and my foot lands stiff and solid. Instead of spreading the energy load throughout my fascia, the impact goes directly into the harder tissues of bone and joint structures, which don’t have the ability to absorb impact as well.

Based on my personal and professional experience, both as a barefoot runner and through helping other runners transition into a barefoot lifestyle, I don’t believe that barefoot running will help heal your SI joint. If anything, there is a really good chance that in the short term it will make things worse. SI joint instability is a mechanical-structural issue, which means the relationship between how you move (mechanical) and how your structure is able to mobilize and stabilize through movement (structural) isn’t functioning in its most efficient state. The problem has little to nothing to do with what is on your feet, whether you are running barefoot or shod. It is a problem with the mechanical-structural relationship of your running gait.

It is not an issue of whether you should run barefoot or shod, but rather should you be running at all? In my professional opinion, you should not.

Now I want to take a moment after that last statement. If you’re a runner currently running through pain, did being told you should not be running kick up an emotional response? Tune in; do you feel anger, fear, judgement, dread? If you feel any kind of emotional process, please take a deep breath and let that move through you before continuing on.

Being told a certain movement isn’t best for your body is a hard pill to swallow.
Believe me, I know how hard a pill it is to swallow. Over the past three years, I’ve repeatedly attempted to get back into running. Each time, three or four weeks in I would get painful calf spasms and I’d be out for weeks again. It has taken me years to change my mindset around exercise. I had to let go of the ego drive to do what I wanted to do (run), and instead focus on the quality movements that my body needs and desires to allow it to heal.

The path to quality, pain-free movement begins by changing your mindset around your fitness, health, exercise, nutrition, and so much more. It begins with a simple understanding:

If I am in pain, then the way I have been moving is hurting me. If I want to feel better, I must change the way that I move. To do this, I must change.

Change is a scary thing. It is a hard pill to swallow indeed. It often brings with it some big fat emotional processes such as noted above. However, If you find the deep desire to change, you have made the first step toward fundamentally changing your life.

With a desire for change, the next step is to begin checking in with your body and asking yourself some important questions about exercise and movement. When you hear yourself saying “It hurts when I run!” Here are a few questions you can ask:

Is this movement safe?
Is this movement healthy?
What is my motivation to continue to perform a movement that hurts me?
What can I let go of from my old paradigm of movement?
What movement is safe, healthy, and loving to my body?

These are questions that must be asked every day and for each exercise based movement you feel a desire to engage in, whether it is yoga, running, resistance training, swimming, cycling, etc. One day a movement may be healthy for your body, and the next day it may be unsafe or unwise to do. Even exercises which you would consider “gentle” can be too much, and yes, this can change from day to day. By getting in the habit of asking these questions each day you will learn how your body communicates with you through pain, and you will develop a new relationship and understanding with your body. This is a beautiful thing that will then shift to other areas of your life.

Pain-free running and beyond
I hope to be able run regularly again. But only when running is a healthy movement choice supported by my body. Only then will I even consider the question of whether to go barefoot or shod. To help me achieve this long-term goal to run again, I am receiving regular assessment and treatment from one of the top movement specialists around.

As long as you are saying “It hurts when I run”, running is not a healthy movement choice. At least not until the inefficiency of movement in your running gait has been fully assessed and corrected. To do this I highly recommend finding a highly skilled movement professional who specializes in gait assessment. This would not be a shoe salesperson!

If you need help finding a movement professional in your area, please let me know. I will do my best to connect you to the best health care team available. If you are in Austin, Texas, contact The Art of Fitness for walking and running gait assessment so we can get you running pain free again.

Do you have a frustrating or inspiring injury related question or story? Please share in the comments below.

Tweet: It Hurts When I Run

My NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) Experience

In my heart as an NKT Movement Therapist, I want to help my clients move better, live more fully, and thrive. This means helping them change the way they move in life and through life on fundamental levels. Until this past year, however, I often felt as if something were missing from my practice. Clients would leave my office after a massage therapy session feeling great, but return within a couple weeks with the exact same pain complaint. Something was missing.

Link of chain to show that NKT is the missing linkNKT- The missing link

I took NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) Level One in June 2013. I was completely wowed by this modality of movement assessment and therapy. I immediately realized that NKT was the missing link in my practice with clients. Integrating it into my existing work, however, has not always been an easy or elegant process.

After the Level One workshop I felt totally overwhelmed. NKT completely crushed any concept I had about my identity as a therapist and what I had been offering to my clients. Don’t get me wrong–this was a good thing. It meant I was being pushed to grow, which I appreciated, but as with any new challenge it was not an easy pill to swallow. For the first three months, I felt depressed. My ego was crushed. I felt like the dumbest kid in the class. It brought up insecurity, frustration, and fear. In essence I was being pushed to let go of an old self-created concept of my Self and embrace something entirely new.  This was scary.

Something I understood early on was that I was learning something entirely new and foreign. When I could surrender the ego expectation that I should immediately be an expert, I realized that “of course” I wouldn’t be very good at this at first. Like a toddler learning to walk, I had to invest my time and patience practicing, studying, experiencing, and learning.

This is what I did
1. I sent out an email to my friends offering free sessions. I knew for the first several months I could not practice this new modality in a paid session. At the time, NKT was a skill I did not own…yet. As much as I needed the practical experience of integrating NKT into my work, I also needed the confidence in my own ability before I could fully give to paying clients. So I offered 6-10 hours of NKT free each week, and continued to maintain my regular practice. This gave me the freedom to completely suck. I could experiment! If I got stuck or had a question, I could use my book or computer as a resource.

2. I found a mentor and a study group. I hadn’t even left New York before I sent Austin-based Jedi Master NKT therapist Joseph Schwartz an email asking to meet. Within a couple of weeks we started a monthly study group with some other new NKT practitioners in the area. Joseph has proven to be a fantastic mentor; he has about 20 years of experience working with NKT and is one of the most intelligent movement/bodywork therapists I’ve ever met. It has been years since I worked with a mentor, and to have one now is such an amazing gift. Studying with another, more experienced practitioner is invaluable and has furthered my learning process at a tremendous speed.

Body in motion NKT.

3. I started studying anatomy. (Again.) I quickly realized that what I knew about anatomy–more specifically, movement anatomy–was grossly inadequate. I bought new books and apps on anatomy and movement for my phone and Ipad. Besides using these regularly as a learning resource for myself, I now use them as a teaching tool with clients as well. The greatest gift I’ve received from NKT is a reinvigorated love and desire for learning.

4. I went to the Level Two workshop within three months of Level One even though I wasn’t 100% confident in my Level One material. This was huge. Level One is an introduction to NKT. It’s kind of like learning to write by focusing on just the alphabet. Level Two really brings NKT into a larger movement perspective. For me it was going from the alphabet to complex sentence structure, paragraphs, outlines, and essays. Taking Level Two brought the Level One material into greater context. I came back from the Level Two workshop with the confidence to start truly and fully integrating NKT into my practice.

5. I assisted a Level One workshop. The first workshop I took was taught by the founder of NKT, David Weinstock. The second Level One workshop was taught by Dr. Perry Nickelston of Stop Chasing Pain. Taking the workshop a second time was great on many levels. First and foremost, it was easier to digest the material since I was already familiar with it. Also, when you assist you get to teach, and teaching is a wonderful way of learning on a deeper level. The best part of re-taking the workshop was the opportunity to learn from a different teacher. Each has their individual way of instructing, and I learned a ton from both. With each workshop, it was as though I was able to climb inside their head and witness their NKT thought process in action.

Picture by fromzertohero at NKT

What I’ve learned along the way
NKT is a door into another world. It is less a modality in and of its own and more of a connecting link between the worlds of movement assessment, traditional physical/manual therapy and movement therapy. It is not teaching an isolated paradigm, but providing a way to shift all former paradigms into a new wholly integrated therapeutic movement outlook. You don’t become a better movement therapist by learning NKT. It is not simply another modality of treatment to add to an existing practice. You become a better movement therapist by integrating what you already know with everything you continue to learn through the lens of NKT. It is this aspect of NKT which has reignited my passion for learning.

This concept is what most excites me. I have been shown a door into a new level of learning, and I feel challenged to learn. I have never felt so passionate about what I do. In the past seven months since the Level One workshop, I have learned more than in my previous 15 years of practice, and I’m a smart guy. This stuff is that powerful. And I’m still barely cracking the surface. (That’s exciting!)

My suggestions for new NKT therapists

1. Practice, Practice, Practice! Don’t introduce NKT to your clients until you have the confidence that you can provide a valuable service by integrating this specialized skill. For some this will take weeks. For others, months. If you introduce something new that you don’t fully know, you will lack the confidence to do it well out of fear of failure. You need sessions in which you can give yourself the freedom to be a complete failure at NKT. This is the only way you will become successful. A session with a paying client is never a good time to practice. They pay you for a skill, and like me at the beginning, NKT is not a skill you own…Yet. Take the time to get there. Offer free sessions to your friends and family. Get as many hours in each week as you possibly can.

2a. Join a study group. Find others in your area who have begun to study NKT, or who have been practicing for a while. If you live in the boonies, drive for hours to get to one. If all else fails, find an online study group. This is where you will refine your testing and touch skills. During the sessions, ask questions of each other, get worked on, make mistakes. Most importantly, learn.

2b. Find a mentor and be a willing student. The most successful people practicing NKT, such as Thomas Wells, Perry Nickelston, Kathy Dooley, Joseph Schwartz, David Weinstock, etc are still students. They may be NKT teachers and instructors, but they are still actively learning students as well. Without a mentor your potential to grow is stunted. Find a mentor to study under, and trade sessions with them whenever possible. Pay for their sessions if you have to. Each week, I drive 45 minutes out of town to work with my mentor. We trade sessions and then do movement work. I walk into his place like a sponge ready to absorb; I leave feeling like I’ve doubled my knowledge and understanding.

2c. Re-educate yourself with anatomy and movement. This is what NKT is all about — helping your clients feel and move better. If you don’t understand what healthy movement is supposed to look like, it’s going to be hard to teach it to your clients.

3. Take the Level Two workshop. This is an investment in your growth as a professional. If you follow the above advice, by the time you get to the Level Two workshop you will be ready enough. Things will begin to connect.

4. Take the Level One workshop again. If you get your certification after your first Level One, you can assist subsequent workshops for FREE. (Minus the cost of your transport and lodging of course.) Taking it a second time will allow you to absorb so much information that you missed the first time–when you perhaps didn’t even realize you were missing anything.

Illustration of a light bulb NKT

Where I’m at now
As I explained previously, my first three months after NKT Level One were rough. I felt like I was fumbling around in the dark quite a bit. But somewhere along the way things began to shift. Between practicing, study groups, working with my mentor, and taking additional workshops, lightbulbs began to turn on. Things started coming slowly together, connections began forming. Once I started working with clients, the shifts came even faster. Over the past several months, NeuroKinetic Therapy has completely evolved my practice. I now offer it almost exclusively and have seen some amazing results with clients suffering from long term chronic pain.

This was my experience learning NKT over the past several months. I hope you find these explanations and suggestions helpful in the process of discovering NKT for yourself.