Don't Chase Pain, Break Free!

Thinking man statue. What is Neurokinetic Therapy.What is NeuroKinetic Therapy?

A little more than fifteen years ago, I found myself sitting on a bench in a gym thinking about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was recovering and rehabbing from a second knee reconstruction and just a few months away from being discharged from the Navy. I had no idea what I wanted to do. Then it hit me like a brick: I wanted to help people feel better, move better. I wanted to help people live better.

Over the years, this key moment has remained present with me as I re-educate and re-invent what I do, in a continual process of re-investing myself in my passion. How can I best serve? How can I provide the best possible support to my clients?

These questions still continue to shape me as a movement therapist, and shape my practice as it evolves to best meet the needs of each individual client. I have graduated from being simply a massage therapist or personal trainer primarily focused on the short term physical fitness goals of my clients. I am now also concerned with helping them heal and recover from the chronic pain and injury while improving their long term movement quality. A massage therapy license has allowed me to do hands on massage therapy targeted treatments, and I am a strong advocate for self-massage with a foam roller. However, I have noticed that hands on massage therapy is frequently not enough. Some people experience short term relief from pain, but a few days later, it returns. Massage then often becomes a tool for pain relief, rather than for actual healing, and clients accept that pain and discomfort are a normal part of a life well lived. Have you ever said “My hip/shoulder/back/neck/foot is aching again, but I can deal with it for a few more days. Time to schedule another massage”?

I was looking for a more profound modality to help my clients truly heal. This is when I began to read the work of some of the top coaches and therapists in the world. (Charlie Weingroff, Dr Perry Nickelston of Stop Chasing Pain, and David Weinstock) Advice such as “don’t chase pain” and “pain is telling you there is a problem, not where the problem is coming from” was followed by discussion on how to assess compensation patterns through hands on manual muscle testing and movement assessment, which tells a therapist where and how to treat the root cause of the pain, rather than the pain itself. I was directed to the page What is NeuroKinetic Therapy, and I knew immediately that this was the work I had been seeking–the work that will best help my clients recover.

When it comes to pain and discomfort, there is no longer any need to “deal with it.

With that said, I will do my best to explain the function and application of NeuroKinetic Therapy.  However, words do not do it justice. If you ever experience pain or discomfort, perhaps caused by an acute injury or perhaps from simply living life, I encourage you to call and schedule a free consultation. We will work together to craft an individualized set of treatments for you, so that you can feel better, move better, live better.

What is NeuroKinetic Therapy™ (NKT)

Manual muscle test on client's elbow. What is Neurokinetic Therapy.NeuroKinetic Therapy™ is a sophisticated form of movement therapy that goes beyond the treatment of symptoms and instead focuses on the root causes of pain and dysfunction. It can be used as both an assessment tool and rehabilitative technique for chronic pain and injury. It is very effective for treatment of pain in the low back, neck, shoulders, knees, hips, and feet; NKT is also used for improving walking/running gait, correcting poor posture, preventing injury, and enhancing athletic performance. For many, treatment can result in nearly instantaneous relief from pain and discomfort.

Through a series of hands-on muscle tests, a certified NKT professional can assess movement systems to determine the specific patterns of imbalance, dysfunction, and compensation. This problem-solving technique can quickly zero in on the muscle(s) responsible for pain and injury. The therapist can then utilize massage therapy, foam roller therapy, stretching, or other therapy modality to release the appropriate muscles tissues; and corrective exercises to strengthen imbalances.  The result is quick, long lasting relief from pain, stiffness and dysfunction, and overall improved movement quality and performance.

NKT bypasses treatment of symptoms and is instead used to identify and correct the root cause of dysfunctional motor patterns through direct assessment of the relationship between your nervous and musculoskeletal systems. This relationship takes place through the Motor Control Center (MCC), which is crucial for interacting with the world by determining movement as well as for establishing balance and stability.

Old school switchboard operator. What is Neurokinetic Therapy.The MCC in action

Think of the MCC as a switchboard operator. Except instead of a person on the other end of the line, you get a movement action from your muscles–your body’s engines. The MCC receives a call to move and determines the appropriate combination of muscles and forces to generate the desired action. This process requires the synchronized and choreographed interaction of the nervous system (the phone lines) and the muscle system (the movement engine).

Say you want to perform a movement such as getting out of a chair. This message passes through the switchboard operator (MCC) which relays the message through the phone lines (your nervous system) to the engine (your muscles). In this message the MCC command directs which muscles to fire and which to relax, or brace. It determines the sequencing, speed, and power needed from each muscle in order to complete the desired action.

Illustration of man in pain in front of the computer. What is Neurokinetic Therapy.When you have trauma caused by an accident, injury, repetitive use, over-training, or poor ergonomics, the pain and/or instability disrupts natural movement patterns, causing temporary dysfunction. The MCC responds to the dysfunction by rerouting the signal to other muscles and shutting down the injured muscle, thus creating a compensation pattern. Muscles that normally perform other uses are now facilitated to make up for the injured, inhibited muscle(s). In the short term, this helps protect your body from further injury and allows the injured tissue time to heal.

However, problems arise when the compensation remains well after the injured tissue has healed. Over time, the compensation becomes hard-wired into the nervous system, which can lead to persistent muscular soreness and stiffness, loss of strength and function, and eventually to more serious bio-mechanical issues.

This is bad. Beyond the fact that it causes pain and discomfort, why is it bad? Because the muscle that is now compensating (the facilitated muscle) already had a job responsibility–now it has two. This is akin to you having to do your job and your coworker’s job. You would be working twice as hard, wouldn’t be as effective at either job, and most likely you’d also be a little (or a lot!) cranky. This is what happens to your muscles. When a muscle becomes cranky, it affects movement quality and often causes pain.

Southpark image. What is Neurokinetic Therapy.Things get even worse when you apply a strength and conditioning program to a dysfunctional movement pattern. When you add load and repetition, the movement patterns you train become stronger over time. Add load and repetition to a dysfunctional movement pattern, and you strengthen the dysfunction. When it comes to moving without pain and injury, practicing high quality movement is fundamental. Practice doesn’t make perfect–practice makes permanent! Perfect practice will help you own high movement quality. When you are dealing with a motor control injury, a strength training program by itself probably won’t correct it. If anything, you risk hard-wiring the dysfunction even more deeply into your motor control system. Unfortunately, this is a cycle I see many athletes repeating: coming off an injury, slowly adding load and intensity back into their training program, and–boom!–another injury setback. It is a vicious cycle, and can be frustrating and depressing.

There is an option to break free of this cycle.

NKT can be a powerful tool to help heal from an acute injury, reduce your risk of pain and injury, break from the injury cycle, and get you moving and feeling better. NKT is quick, cost effective treatment for both rehabilitation and prevention of injuries.

Will NeuroKinetic Therapy be helpful for you? Every case is different and every person responds differently to therapy. NKT is far and away the most profound therapy I have come across. The only true way to understand this work is to experience it.

Ready to ask what is NeuroKinetic Therapy and learn how NKT can help you? Leave a comment below. If you’re in Austin, Texas you can schedule a consultation online here.

Who can benefit from NKT?

  • Runners
  • Triathletes
  • Weight Lifters

Those who enjoy:

  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Dancing
  • Body Building
  • Volleyball
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Rock Climbing
  • Biking
  • And so on…

Jesse James Retherford of The Art of Fitness is a Movement Therapist who offers NeuroKinetic Therapy, movement assessment, hands on massage therapy, personal training and coaching, and personalized exercise programs to help his clients eliminate pain, create a pain and injury prevention plan, move better, and tackle all of their life goals. Click here to learn more about What is NeuroKinetic Therapy.

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