David Weinstock: Neurokinetic Therapy and Motor Control Theory (LBP 013)

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I talk with David Weinstock, founder of Neurokinetic Therapy™ about how this approach helps manual and movement therapists to be better detectives. We get into motor control theory, how we create healthy and dysfunctional patterns, what our scars can tell us about ourselves, how eye movements facilitate muscle movements throughout the body, and TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, aka jaw stuff) including the hips/pelvis/jaw connection.

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Show notes

Neurokinetic therapy is an application of neuroscience that combines motor control theory with manual muscle testing and kinetic chain analysis.

What that means is we're looking to see how the body creates compensation patterns and then what we can do as therapists to resolve those dysfunctional compensation patterns and help people to move better by doing specific movement homework exercises.

He developed it because some of his clients weren't getting better and were coming back with the same issue over and over. He realized that the brain was in control with everything and unless he could have a conversation with the brain he wasn't going to get very far.

What is motor control? It is the brains ability to coordinate movement, to regulate the speed of movement, and to regulate the learning of new movement patterns. Motor Control Theory was created by Russian scientist Nikolai Bernstein from the 1940's to the 1960's. Mark Latash has compiled and translated Bernstein's writings (in resources).

Bernstein created the hierarchy of the motor control system which is:

-If we want to move the first thing is a desire for something- so the limbic system is going to tell the rest of me how to get the thing I want.

-That passes on to the cerebral cortex which gives us strategies to move.

-Which then passes to the motor control center which coordinates all the movement patterns. It's also more the feedback system, so you can move into different positions, and respond to the environment and adjust on the fly.

-Then it's passed down through the spine and onto the myofascial system in order to complete the task.

Those who are just treating at the spinal level and the myofascial level you're not going to really change dysfunctional movement patterns because they are one step up.

If you come in with low back pain and I see your sacroiliac joint is jammed up, I will tell you to do a number of movements to see what provokes that pain. Then I will put you on the table and start testing muscles that are related to the SI joint.

When I find muscles that fail I will relate it to the SI joint.

People who practice NKT are MD's, DO's, PT's LMT's, movement professionals. So he doesn't teach releases he teaches assessment and treatment strategies.

How do people create dysfunctional patterns?

Two basic ways- traumatic like a car accident or a fall on the head, etc. Most people develop compensation patterns from repetitive motion such as posture, or computer work, or any number of things where people are doing certain movements too long.

Are there patterns that are part of a larger cultural issue rather than an individual issue?

The computer use and sedentary lifestyle- a lot of people are bent forward, shoulders rolled in, head is forward.

Siting too long creates glute amnesia.

Eye movement as a facilitator for muscle movements throughout the whole body. Eye movement covered in level 3 of training in NKT- so this is for the most advanced students.

That said, when we look to the left or right our brain is trying to figure out how to make that movement to the left or right. And if there is a problem making that movement, our eyes may overcompensate and move farther to the left or the right. Once that strain gets developed, we start to lose peripheral vision on that side. It can relate to anything in your whole body.

Scars are created usually from traumatic events- either an accident or surgery. Scars interfere with the messaging system- the neuro-network- and therefore interfere with the brain's ability to connect with different parts of the body.

Many women who have had a c-section will tell you that their abdominals have not felt the same since and their body is relying on that scar tissue instead of the abdominal musculature.

In NKT they are encouraged to ask people about their scars in the intake- not just scars but also tattoos and piercings, because it gives them a lot of information. They become a treasure map of sorts.

TMJD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder- there are a few other structures at the top of our list for their ability to compensate for multiple movement patterns: the diaphragm, the pelvic floor, and the jaw is the third one. People are clenching their teeth all the time to make up for lack of strength elsewhere in their body.

Lateral translation of the jaw creates clicking and popping- which is mandible passing over the disc. We want to figure out why it's shifting left and right. It's often about an inability of the body to move to the left or the right. Specifically in the pelvis. A lot of pelvic dysfunction shows up with TMJD. It's important to figure out why the jaw is doing what it's doing.

A bit of my own story with TMJD

TM joint, SI joint, and hip joints mirror one another.

Stand up and move your pelvis around and see what you do with your jaw- bend over to the right, your jaw goes to the right. One follows the other.

David describes that he came up with a lot of this by putting himself in the positions and seeing what should and shouldn't be working and figuring it out.

Tongue pushing- the tongue is  a muscle- if the body needs to it will throw in whatever it can to create stability and safety. If we don't feel stable or safe we are going to find it.

Neck pain and lower back pain are the most common reasons people seek out NKT. With computers and texting I'm [David] not afraid of making a living.

People are looking down too much, people are sitting too much.

I talk about how my city, New Haven, has spray-painted our crosswalks saying "don't text" and "look up" and "don't look down".

These activities are going to change the shape of the human body.

In his own practice David is playing with Anatomy in Motion created by Gary Ward (coincidentally we have an interview coming up with Gary Ward soon too!). It's tri-planar movement and eccentric loading. It's quite a brilliant system and it's what he's working with .

In relationship to NKT he's thinking about how Anatomy In Motion is a great compliment to it. NKT is mostly concentric contraction, and Anatomy in Motion is eccentric.(we have an interview coming up with Gary Ward soon too!) Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex by José Palomar.(both in resources) And staying abreast of any advances in neuroscience.

One of the most important things is the limbic system. It is the driver for all this- so anyone who comes in with an unresolved limbic system issue, like trauma, that will screw up motor control like nobody's business. So he's always looking for ways to address the limbic system efficiently. Breathing and visualization are some ways.

Home play!

Where is your gaze? Following up from last week's home play from Valerie Berg's episode where we played with peripheral vision, this week we are going to take a day and see if we can notice where our gaze is  most of the time. How much is your screen gaze carrying over into the rest of your life? How often do you notice how big the sky is? How far the horizon can be?

Resources

Neurokinetic Therapy

Nikolai Bernstein bio

Mark Latash bio

Motor Control Theories and Their Applications by Mark Latash

Anatomy in Motion created by Gary Ward

Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex created by José Palomar

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