Last week I touched on how pain can appear to come out of nowhere and why these types of injuries happen (hint: muscle imbalances). This week I’m going to explain both how I assess and treat muscle imbalances and how I do it using an approach called Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT).
Let’s start with an example using shoulder pain. Most of my clients that come to me with a shoulder issue will complain of pain with reaching overhead. Let’s breakdown the most common muscles that help us reach overhead; these muscles include the deltoid, traps, pecs, the bicep and the supraspinatus which is one of the rotator cuff muscles.
When you reach over your head do you think about activating every single one of those muscles? Of course not! Your body has developed a very specific muscle activation pattern which you learned at a very young age through your body’s experience with movement. The muscle activation patterns that you learned as a child become subconscious: muscle memory. If reaching overhead is pain-free, it is likely that all of these muscles are doing their jobs properly.
Last week I talked about how injuries can activate the “Protection Mode” which can increase the activity or decrease the activity of one or more of these muscles resulting in a compensation (PS, this will also happen with overuse injuries!). This is where NKT comes in.
NKT uses muscle testing to uncover EXACTLY which muscles are UNDERworking and which ones are OVERworking. Using NKT, one of the most common compensations I find in the shoulder is the supraspinatus (that little rotator cuff muscle I mentioned above), overworking for the deltoid. But once we know what the compensation is HOW do we treat it?
As you may have noticed, a compensation consists of TWO components – an overworking muscle AND an underworking muscle. That means that TWO things must happen to resolve a compensation. The overworking muscle has to be relaxed or “shut down”, while the underworking muscle needs to be activated or “turned on”. This is easy enough to do: we can massage or stretch an overworking muscle as massage and stretching will effectively relax and “turn off” a muscle temporarily. Then, we can use a strengthening exercise to activate the underworking muscle. This must happen in that sequence. So, using our example above, we would massage and relax the overworking supraspinatus (just for a minute or two), and then exercise the underworking deltoid right after to make sure it is activated.
Now, remember all those muscles I mentioned above? Those aren’t even 1/3 of the shoulder muscles, and compensations can occurs with any of them. This is why many generic or alternative approaches are often unsuccessful and why I choose to use NKT – to find out EXCATLY WHAT is happening specifically in YOUR body so that I can treat YOUR specific compensation pattern and get you out of pain. The principles of NKT, when applied correctly, never fail to yield results. Using NKT, I don’t guess what is causing your pain – I assess you to actually find out! It’s that simple.
Certified Neurokinetic Therapy® Practitioner
Certified Concussion Rehabilitation
Certified Rocktape® Doc
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