In the middle of March I was at a seminar about NKT in Poland. This is something I have been putting off for four years, but at the end of last year I decided the time was now and I registered without giving it a second thought. It was an interesting experience, because three days earlier I had had to have one of my lower wisdom teeth extracted – something my body didn’t like and I would say it has been years since I felt as bad as I did last week. I even wondered briefly if I should travel at all, but since I am one of those people who like taking risks, I decided I could stay in Bulgaria and feel poorly and be in pain or I could go to the seminar and feel the same way. In both cases the pain would be there. I reminded myself of how true it is that pain is unavoidable, but suffering is a matter of choice and you decide how to deal with what is happening to you. So I decided to go. When my vlog about my Poland trip and the seminar is ready, you will also be able to see a lot of pictures. And now some points of interest about the seminar.
1.What is NKT?
NKT or Neurokinetic Therapy identifies muscles imbalances based on muscle testing. This way you determine which muscles are inhibited (i.e. not functioning) and which muscles act as facilitators, i.e. they make up for the non-functioning ones and get overworked. And the most essential part of NKT is that afterwards, based on this testing, a certain treatment protocol and corrective techniques are used, which help restore the correct movement pattern and reprogram the motor control center in the brain (the place where information about movement is stored).
This is the more complex explanation. The more simple one is that you test to see if the right muscles and joints work at the right time. And if they don’t, therapy is administered which helps reprogram the motor control center in the brain and restore the correct movement pattern.
2.The brain learns through failure
This is my favorite part, because it can be applied to so many things in life. As for NKT, the idea is that when the brain registers failure or inability to activate the right muscle, a brief time window opens, during which the motor control center can be reprogrammed. And this is the essence of the method.
If you remember one thing, let it be that the brain learns by failure and next time you can’t do an exercise at the gym, you must know that this is an opportunity for your body to learn a new movement pattern, and not a failure that tells you that you suck and are useless. This is simply the way our body functions – accept it and use it to your advantage.
3.We should find the cause, and not treat the symptom
This is a unique approach. Quite frequently, pretty much all the time, the spot where we feel pain is not the cause of the pain. Normally the pain is merely a consequence and a symptom that something in the body is not right. NKT allows us to identify where the problem is and treat it locally, making the symptom and the pain redundant. So if you have knee pain and unless you suffered an injury in the knee itself, in 98% of all cases the problem is either further down or further up the chain. There is an imbalance somewhere and it has to identified and corrected.
4.The spots on the body that feel painful and tight are usually not the spots that need to be loosened up.
This is, of course, not valid in 100% of all cases, but quite often it is a fact. As Simon, the lecturer, says, when it comes to the body and the way it functions, we should not guess, but test and make sure. But quite often it so happens that the spot where the pain is and which feels tight is a part of the muscles which are “arguing” among themselves. But the painful muscles are normally the weaker ones and need to be strengthened, while the others are the overworked ones and need to be loosened up. As a person once said to me, “The same is true of the body as of life – those who work more are usually those who complain less.”So stretching and massaging a painful spot can often make the problem worse instead of solving it.
5.Motor control hierarchy
In most therapeutic practices the body is treated at the lowest level of this hierarchy – at the level of the connective tissue and the spine. In contrast, NKT actually starts from the top – from the brain. The brain is the one that controls the body and in order to change the movement pattern, the brain has to send this information. Everything else is just a temporary fix which brings some relief, but does not solve the problem.
6.Teach the brain a better way to control the body
Quite often, when we have a problem, we blame our body – the way it functions or looks. The truth is that at any given time our body does the best it is capable of in order to find the problem it is faced with. As you probably read in my first book The IFS Gene: A Vision for Health, I believe that any illness is not a dysfunction, but merely an adaptive response of the body to the conditions it finds itself in. The same is true of pain and imbalances. They are the result of the conditions in which we move our body and are a kind of adaptation. As an example we can mention injuries and the compensation mechanisms that arise as a result of the body’s attempt not to put strain on the painful spot. This is quite a long topic, but one worth thinking about. With NKT we allow the body to learn a better way to deal with these issues – ways that are not painful.
7.More is not always better
In NKT, after testing is done and the problem is identified, you always determine the amount of “homework” everyone should do. Often we think that the more we do, the better result we will get. In NKT you do 2-5 repetitions initially – the number is determined individually for every patient, based on the testing. The idea is that our nervous system can allow us to perform the new movement pattern correctly “n” times, before we reach a neurological threshold, after which the old compensation mechanism returns – something we don’t want happening. This is why everything has to be dosed and precise, so that we can make sure that a new movement pattern is being learned. This applies to workouts as well – many people try to do as much as they can, but after a certain number of repetitions or time spent at the gym we no longer build and we may even take a step back. It doesn’t matter how much we do, but what the quality of performance is and what information we send our body.
8.The longer the problem existed, the more time it will take to correct it
A truth that applies to everything in life. Even when it comes to weight loss. Everyone wants to lose the weight in no more than a month, no matter how much weight they have to lose. But we never stop to ask ourselves how long it took us to gain that weight and we fail to realize that the longer we lived at it, the more time it will take us to lose it. This is also true of the way muscle imbalances are corrected – the longer we lived with an imbalance, the more time it will take to reprogram our brain to use another movement pattern.
9.Scars, piercings and tattoos and how they affect the body’s functioning
This is one of the most appealing ideas. During the seminar (you will hear more in my next vlog) the lecturer asked one of the participants who had a scar on his back to step forward. He showed us how that scar was the reason why certain muscles were not functioning, while others were getting overworked – how the scar was the cause of the muscle imbalance. It crossed my mind that no one pays attention to scars – after a surgery or even after a C-section – something that has a decisive role in how the body functions. That also made me realize how important it is to work on those scars and help the body recover the correct movement pattern without compensating. By way of examples they mentioned piercings and tattoos and how a piercing of the navel, the tongue or the nose may lead to an imbalance which causes pain, seemingly incurable, but actually quite easy to remedy.
10.Old injuries and the way we move
This is my favorite topic and now I gained even more knowledge. They showed us how an injury that occurred 30 years ago may be causing the pain we feel today. How injuries do not have a best before date and if they were not treated correctly, they may be the cause of our present-day imbalance and discomfort. They demonstrated the importance of the exact way the injury occurred, for example, whether a whiplash blow caused the head to move forward or sideways, because this has an enormous impact on the therapy and on the way the various muscles responded – which ones are overworked and which ones are weak.
I can’t put in a blog post what I learned about the human body and movement. All I know is that all this looks like a miracle, but at the same time it is so simple and logical. When you know how muscles interact, what the directions of the muscle fibers are and what the most frequent compensation mechanisms in the body are, you can also work a miracle by helping someone get rid of pain that has been tormenting them for a long time. And even more importantly, NKT is not a treatment method that forces the body to be in a certain position – quite the contrary! The method itself includes a lot of very precise and light movements that help reprogram the brain and the movement pattern. I can’t wait to continue my education and learn more at the next two levels.
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