Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT)
Neurokinetic Therapy (often called NKT) is a type of natural therapeutic system that has the goal of correcting learned movements and muscle functions within the body that can contribute to poor posture, joint tenderness and muscular pain. Considered to be a healing “bodywork modality,” similar to massage therapy or chiropractic adjustments for example, NKT is often used in rehabilitative settings to treat injuries and chronic pain.
What Is Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) and How Does It Work?
NKT is based on observations that certain body parts compensate for other weaker body parts. Essentially muscles or tissue can become weak and “shut down” following injury, while others become forced to work overtime and make up their shortcomings. This concept is known as the body’s “muscle compensation patterns.” These patterns are observed in people experiencing noticeable weakness and pain, but also often appear to some degree in those who are generally healthy and strong.
NKT is based on a chiropractic technique called Applied Kinesiology, which uses touch and adjustments to help the body heal itself. Prior to using any Applied Kinesiology technique, a practitioner must first test their client’s reaction to a type of movement, stance, pressure or substance in order to see how they react, in order to observe their weaknesses.
Muscle compensation patterns are stored in a part of the brain responsible for muscle and movement memories, called the cerebellum. Muscle testing can help reveal incorrect movements that are stored in the cerebellum and contributing to pain or postural abnormalities.
The cerebellum is sometimes referred to as “the body’s control center for all motor skills (Motor Control Center). It plays a crucial role in helping us to develop into fully functioning adults who can perform many movements automatically (such as grabbing, walking, bending or bringing things towards our body) without much conscious thought.
The cerebellum is connected to all muscles via the somatic nervous system, which is a series of nerve channels that bring chemical messages throughout your body related to your senses, location in space and movements.
Although memories stored in the cerebellum allow us to do many tasks subconsciously and automatically, we still must learn these behaviors and movements through trial and error. Babies and children slowly develop muscle memories as they get older, and the cerebellum (in conjunction with other parts of your brain) then stores these memories like a computer, so that eventually we can perform them on “autopilot.”
Normally movement memories are extremely useful and beneficial, but they can become problematic following an injury or overuse. When one muscle is overused or strained, the body adapts by creating muscle compensations. These compensations then get stored into the Motor Control Center and can be hard to break without precise interventions.
Movement patterns may be faulty or dysfunctional, and cause pain due to imbalance, overuse or overloading of tissues. Pain itself is not always at the site of dysfunction — it’s simply result of faulty compensations.
The goal of NKT, therefore, is to reteach corrected muscle movements.