by John Grainger MS, CSCS, UVAC Fitness Program Coordinator
In February Garrett Wilson, Katherine MacPherson, and myself traveled to a NeuroKinetic Therapy training seminar in Attleboro, MA. NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) has been developed over the last 30 years by a massage therapist from California named David Weinstock. NKT is based on the theory that over time we develop functional and dysfunctional movement patters. Dysfunction can occur for many reasons: repetitive stress, acute injury, chronic injury, poor posture, scars (surprisingly, a very common one), and even injuries from 15 or more years ago.
Many times that “tight” muscle that you might feel in your upper back is probably tight because it is working for another muscle around it. Usually that muscle that isn’t working does a similar function or even an opposing one. One of the most common dysfunctional patterns is where the pectoralis major is over working for the mid and/or lower trap.
A good example is me: after returning from a trip to Florida, I had an extremely tight and sore medial gastrocnemius.
Katherine performed NKT on me when I returned and found that my posterior tibialis was not being recruited by my brain and my medial gastroc was trying to do all the work.
Once the medial gastroc had been released using a lacrosse ball and the postior tibialis was recruited again, my calf loosened up greatly.
The biggest difference between NKT, Self-Myofascial Release (e.g. foam rolling), most chiropractic work, massage therapy, and even sometimes physical therapy, is that usually once an overactive muscle is released the inhibited muscle(s) (those that are not working) aren’t activated. Another thing that is common is too much resistance is used and the wrong muscles are recruited. This is the dysfunctional movement pattern that we are trying to avoid. Even though a massage may feel great and when you get off the table you are able to do things (like touch your toes or reach your hand up your back) you couldn’t before, if you don’t activate the muscles that are inhibited the dysfunctional movement pattern will return. That is the reason why you feel like you need to go to the chiropractor or the massage therapist once a month to get “fixed.” NKT helps change the dysfunction into function so that the chronic pain or discomfort goes away for good with simple exercises.