Barry Hooper LMT
(610) 306-0505

What is NKT ?

Neurokinetic Therapy or NKT addresses the neural patterns that underpin all movement, posture, stability and strength in the body. To best understand this we need to talk a moment about what is actually happening the moment you make the conscious choice to move or stabalize. Lets take the case of you standing upright and still. In this instance, you may think that isn't a lot of neuromuscular activity, however that is very far from the truth.


For sake of illustration, let's say that you've been blessed with overall health and function and have no severe injuries or disabling diseses. You would have 26 moving bones in each foot and ankle with all the motion available there, a knee joint with about 150 or more degrees of extension and flexion, a giant ball and socket joint at the hip, a hip girdle that tilts twists and turns through three plains of motion, 24 vertebrae stacked on one another with a dramatic amount of flexion, extension and rotation at the cervical and thoracic levels and limited rotation but significant flexion and extension at the lumbar level. Take into consideration that the sliding friction in most healthy joints is equivelent to the friction between two wet ice cubes and that we have placed an 8 to 12 pound head with more moving parts on top of that stack. Also consider that 60%, or so, of your body mass is above your hips. If I gave you that mess to try and balence in an upright position, even if I added all the ligamentous structures and joint capsules, you would never get it done. What's more, if you did get it done and I changed your head position just barely, you're going down. Now what if I added movement through three planes of motion while balenced on one foot, or, running. When we look at this way, we can see that there are thousands of bytes of information that must be relayed every split second between the motor control center of your brain and all of the musculature and soft tissues and the sensory organs therein for us to even stand still. This complex, real time, dynamic conversation between the sensory structures in your body, the motor control center of your brain,(cerebellum), and all of your musculature occurs outside your consciousness and determines the patterns of movement and sequential firing of the muscles of your body. You choose to stand still. Your cerebellum chooses some vast number of contractions and releases in order to get that done.


Think of it like a modern fighter jet. An inherently unstable structure in flight that has a super computer on board to interpret, at every instant, that aircraft's position in space and all of the various forces at work on any it's control surfaces. Human beings can not fly those planes. They are flown by a computer that can process immense amounts of information and make a multitude of adjustments every split second so the lane does what the pilot asks it to do. Your body is similar. You choose to stand, the cerebellum takes care of the rest. 


There are "functional" ways to stand and move that your cerebellum learns in infancy and childhood. The cerebellum learns through failure. When an infant tries to roll over and does not succeed, the cerebellum will try something different and so on until it arrives at a muscular firing pattern that results in success. Then, as the infant refines the movement, the cerebellum comes up with a functional rolling pattern, Eventually this pattern is locked away in the frontal cortex as a template that can be referrred back to. This process continues with crawling, standing, walking etc. until we become capable of ever more complex actions.


In NKT we identify some critical subsystems that the body uses to achieve these actions. Think of these subsystems as stabalizing lines of force that manifest a critical amount of tension to keep us in posture and effect stablity and mobility. In NKT these subsystems give us a road map to help identify some of the relationships that may have gone awry. We talk about five main subsystem and they have a heirarchy of importance as follows with the most important listed first.

The Intrinsic Core: Think of a cylinder that would encompass your head and spine with a cap on top and underneath.

The Deep Longitudinal Subsystem: Think of a rope that inserted at the base of your spine and extended deeply and diagonally across your butt, then down the back lateral portion of your thigh, then into the side of your calf and down around the outside of your ankle and terminating in the outside of your fot.

The Lateral Subsystem: Think of ropes that come up the inside of your thigh, the outside of your butt cheek and then cross over to the opposite low back.

The Posterior Oblique Subsystem: Think of a rope that starts in the Latissimus muscle, travels downward into a giant centrally located diamond shaped piece of tough mesh, and then crosses over into the opposite butt cheek.

The Anterior Oblique Subsystem: Think of a rope that starts in the front of the shoulder deep to the Pectoralis muscle then crosses the front of the torso down into the front of the opposite hip.

What happens when a "functional" pattern is supplanted by a "dysfunctional" one? Typically, at some point, there is an abnormal stress delivered to the soft tissues. A car accident, a sprinter tearing a hamstring, a triathlete over using the hip flexors or moving a refrigerator up two floors for your brother in law. At that moment, the sensory organs in that structure are altered and an abberant signal is sent back to the cerebellum. This results in your super computer making abberant decisions about patterning. At that moment the cerebellum will switch to a different neural pattern in order to get that refrigerator up those last few steps. Now there is a dysfunctional pattern in place that may remain for years. Your body may percieve a hamstring strain and then substitute with a quadriceps muscle on the same leg. A person or athlete may not notice this until they load those subsystems to threshold again.


Understanding which substitutions the cerebellum typically makes and why is an in depth discussion and in many instances, we don't know why the brain chooses the patterns that it does. Also, there are other influances that have immense influances on these patterns. Concussions, eye strains, emotional trauma and scars all can trump every other event when it comes to influancing patterns. In NKT we can discover and correct some of these complex and insidious relationships that may have been causing you undiganosed repeated pain and dysfunction for years. Any technique that brings us closer to addressing root cause is invaluable. NKT is just such a therapy.