We all have a story, and everybody’s story is very important to consider when it comes to overcoming pain and dysfunction.
The games you played as a child, that time you fell off your skateboard and broke your arm, the hours you spent practicing your favourite instrument, a torn hamstring at dance practice, long days sitting in the office staring at a screen typing, the adventure of a lifetime hiking a mountain, the laborious beauty of child birth, your job, your hobbies, your injuries, your surgeries, your tattoos, the way you pick up the washing basket. It is all extremely relevant.
When it comes to movement, it is very much supply and demand. If your brain receives enough of the same demand to do something a certain way, it is going to get very good at supplying a way of doing so.
I spent many years as a touring musician, singing and playing my guitar. I spent hours as a teenager practicing the guitar and at first it seemed impossible to play. I felt so uncoordinated and my hands just didn’t know how to achieve what I asked of them. With every failure my brain stored what not to do, and memorised each success. Slowly as time went on and I kept demanding my hands to hit the notes on each string until it became easier and easier. After years and years of this it was like my hands just knew what to do without me thinking very hard about it at all.
This is motor control. Movement patterns are stored in the cerebellum (motor control centre) of the brain. When we ask our body to achieve something, the brain sends a message to the musculoskeletal system via the motor control centre which co-ordinates and organises what movement patterns will be used. The more we do this the stronger and easier to achieve the signal gets.
These movement patterns can be altered or replaced with substitute patterns at time of injury, post surgery, or inability to sustain repetition of a movement. This harnesses the potential achieve what we require of our body when injured, during rehabilitation, or when we feel the desire to push when we cant sustain a movement in repetition. Think of this as functional dysfunction.
I learnt this through personal experience as I am sure many of you may have too. In the later years of my travelling, late nights and playing my guitar, fatigue slowly caught up to me. My hands that were once fast and precise grew exhausted. I began subconsciously developing ways to compensate for the fatigue. I would hike my shoulders up, clench my jaw, hold my breath, and do what ever it took to get through the songs and play my guitar.
Do something enough times and what happens?
You get good at it!
Slowly I began developing jaw and neck pain, headaches, low back pain, dizziness and shortness of breath. These patterns found their way into my daily movement, training as a rock climber and runner. I could no longer do what I loved without result of neck and jaw pain. urgh…
Life had handed me a gift of inspiration to make change. Fortunately I listened. I put an end to the touring and late nights, and began a path of searching to find out why I was experiencing this pain.
I tried as many therapists as I could including doctors, massage, chiro, osteo, dentistry, neurology, psychology, and more but nothing seemed to change. I would get some short relief from the body work sessions and a day or so later the pain would return. This fuelled my motivation further. If no one could help me I would figure it out myself. I had already begun studying the human body and had completed a certification in Personal Training. I enrolled in a Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy and towards the end of my studies one of my lecturers told me about a guy in the states who was helping peoples back pain by looking at their big toes and so on. His name is David Weinstock, the founder of Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT). I read a few things on the internet about it and couldn’t believe there was no one in Australia using this technique. I purchased David Weinstock’s “Neurokinetic Therapy” book, read his blog posts, watched his videos and read anything I could find relating to Neurokinetic Therapy. Suddenly it all made so much sense. Perhaps I had developed compensation patterns during my guitar playing and thats why my neck and jaw hurt all the time?
I began teaching my brother how to perform muscle and movement pattern testing to help me figure out exactly what was going on. Another good friend, and now Neurokinetic Therapist Nathan Wilkinson also helped me to determine the source of my pain. I was indeed clenching my jaw, holding my breath, and straining my neck in order to help my hands do what I was asking them to do. Using the NKT protocol it was possible to release these compensators, and re-train my brain that it is possible to use the muscles of my hands without having to compensate all the time. All I can say is thank god for NKT!
Previous therapists were on the right track with the fact that yes my neck and my jaw muscles were tight and painful. But know one was asking why. When ares of tension were being released in my body no one was giving stability back to the areas that were relying on that stability. Thats kind of like kicking a walking stick out from under someone who relies on it for stability. Perhaps not to that extreme, but hopefully you get the point.
That is where NKT is different. It allows you to do the detective work to find out where in the body the brain is struggling to access and utilise in a movement pattern, where in the body is compensating for this, release the compensation, and give the brain back a pathway to access what was missing.
I am honoured to be a part of a new breed of therapists in this country who have discovered this NKT gem and are now integrating it into their practice. I am also honoured to have felt the healing power of NKT in my own body.
If you are struggling with pain, movement, rehabilitation, or performance give Neurokinetic Therapy a try. Work with someone who listens to your history / story, watches you move, can connect the dots as to why you are in pain, and give your body back what it is missing.