What is NeuroMuscular Reprogramming?

NMR is an approach to structural bodywork which engages the motor control center of the brain to rewrite the motor programs governing coordinated movement.
Muscle tension is the result of dysfunctional coordination patterns where one or more muscles are overworking to compensate for a lack or weakness somewhere else. The tense muscles are stuck in the “on” position while the inhibited muscles are concurrently stuck in the “off” position. Resolving these imbalances is the work of NeuroMuscular Reprogramming (NMR).

How Do We Reprogram the Motor Coordination Center?

Using applied kinesiology, applying 5 to 10 pounds of pressure and asking for an equivalent resistance, an NMR practitioner can locate the failed muscles responsible for chronic tension. This process of muscle testing engages not only the neuromuscular pathways specific to the muscle being tested, but also “lights up” associated muscles working to brace or compensate for any inhibition of the motor pathways. The brain is “cued” for reprogramming a new coordination option.   (when shortening, cut here with a hot link to the blog)
The reprogramming is accomplished by testing a series of muscles and muscle functions. Utilizing the practitioner’s choice of advanced muscle treatment techniques, the muscle causing the inhibition by being stuck in a state of chronic contraction is released. The testing series is then repeated to challenge and anchor the functionality of all muscles involved. When a muscle can repeatedly perform a test without failing in sequence with others, it is considered reprogrammed. 

Pain Free Movement Can Be Right Around the Corner…

This simple process results in pain free movement and postural support within a very brief period of time. Adding Neuromuscular Reprogramming to any other muscle release technique can double the speed with which a client regains free movement  Residual effects from injuries that have persisted for 10 years or more are relieved within as little as one session. . 
Depending on the complexity of a condition, results can be immediate or require a series of treatments accompanied by gradual improvements before the client is pain free. 

Try NMR for Fast Relief

NMR is useful in speeding recovery from acute injury such as whiplash and sprains, relieving residual chronic effects of past injuries, handling postural distortions such as scoliosis, and enhancing athletic performance.  When your body is experiencing postural or functional pain, try NMR for fast relief.

Problems Come Apart in Layers: Because Muscles Come in Layers


The Origin of the Issue

This client is dealing with a complex situation involving a Scoliosis pattern and a blow to the left top of the head sustained in a protest demonstration 50 plus years ago at the age of 21 at the hand of a policeman’s baton. The blow knocked her unconscious. The spiral that it put into her spine may have been the source of her scoliosis. A routine screening for Scoliosis as a teenager in school elicited no remarks about Scoliosis.

Progress Over Time

When we first began work 1 ½ years ago her upper cervicals were radically torqued to the right and compressed such that the base of her neck had no room to rotated to the left at all. Now her head sits on top of a much longer neck and the sub-occipital torque is a small remainder of a lifetime of patterning.

Shoulder Problems and Their Source

Shoulder problems almost always have a contributing source in the reciprocal function of the SPS. Lack of rotational movement in the upper thorax can cause weakness in one or both shoulders. Today we focused on the left shoulder restriction.
My client thinks this restriction is due to overuse at an earlier age due to bracing with that arm for her work. I don’t agree. I think the weakness and dysfunction in that shoulder caused the effort of a weak muscle to go rigid through use. Remember: Muscles that are weak become rigid and sore when used excessively, and do not respond to massage. Relaxing is not appropriate for muscles that are weak and overworked.

Layers of the Problem

She has residual restrictions in her left shoulder joint and excessive holding in the arm pit area.
This problem has come apart in 4 or 5 layers: first the vertical support of the thoracic/cervical column; second the small muscles of the shoulder joint; third the big muscle support of the lateral shoulder such as tricep and lats and anterior serratus; fourth, deeper into the joint, the posterior deltoid has taken over for stabilization to the core (Rhomboids, Ant Serratus and Traps).
Fifth, we HAVE to make sure the rotations at the suboccipitals and those at the top of the thoracic column (Serratus Posterior Superior) are both reciprocally functional and not undermining one another. We’ve corrected this before so it wasn’t the focus of today’s work but it did have to be checked against all other inhibitions found today.

Rule of NMR: Muscle Coordination

RULE of NMR: Remaining dis-coordination in associated muscles; those used for bracing a structure to get life’s work done, can trigger the body to reconfigure the whole coordination confusion. Next time you’ll have to repeat things. Once you get all muscle coordination coherent, that doesn’t happen. Could it really be that simple? In my experience YES, over and over again.

Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic Functions of the Nervous System:

Our nervous system has 2 interweaving sides: excitatory and vegetative. The excitatory side takes care of emergencies and the vegetative rest and regeneration. When we are stuck in a chronic tension pattern from a past accident or incident or a prolonged period of unremitting stress our ability to heal ourselves is seriously impaired. A new client came in for a free neuromuscular assessment/consultation. She’d been such a hard driving producer that her whole nervous system collapsed into chronic fatigue and inability to heal. The result was systemic infections that wouldn’t heal. The antibiotics further destroyed her gut biome and compromised her ability to take nutrition out of her food. She put on weight and had no energy for exercise. The end point was extreme: bed ridden for 2 years, too weak to walk, with PTSD from all the attempted interventions. This sketch of her situation (many details have been left out) is a perfect description of the failure to thrive that is marked by a fixation in the sympathetic side of the nervous system.

What the Parasympathetic side of the Autonomic Nervous System does:

  • Meditation; enables you to reach states of at oneness.
  • Relaxation; the ability to calm the mind.
  • Digestion; secretion of enzymes and moving of the bowel
  • Restoration; the efficiency and priorities of our body’s cellular metabolism are directly affected by whether we are at ease or anxious
  • Sleep; the ability to access the deep sleep states of youth.
  • Cell regeneration; all the metabolic chemistry that is used in healing and making new tissue.

What the Sympathetic Nervous System does:

  • Constricts blood vessels; raises blood pressure
  • Shortens breath and limits it to the chest muscles
  • Contracts pupils and produces focused “tunnel vision”
  • Reverts to reactive responses based on past experience
  • Inhibits higher brain functions (conceptual, integrative, problem solving and creativity)
  • Suppresses immune response
  • Disintegrates learned, refined movements and smooth muscle tone (colon)
  • Produces physical awkwardness resulting in loss of self esteem
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep or waking up still tired


Chronic Stress creates Sympathetic Hyper-arousal or Hyper-vigilance.  Muscles are tight constantly in an overall hypertension ready for the need to fight, flight or freeze; always “at the ready.”
Areas expressive of the “the startle reflex” such as the back of the neck and elevation of the shoulders, sub-occipitals, eyes, low back, calf muscles, psoas and iliacus maintain the most tension.
The end result:
  • Chronic tension and pain in muscles, especially those expressive of the startle reflex
  • High levels of stress hormones and tension over time create high fluid levels in the tissue.
  • Stiff, sore muscles, poor circulation, taut, pale and thick skin
  • High fluid levels produce poor cellular nutrition, sluggish energy metabolism, poor recovery time from activity, and cell wall fragility.

We teach you how to shift your clients from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic in NeuroMuscular Reprogramming. NMR is a practical tool to include in your practice including and not limited to: physical therapists, massage therapists, physical trainers or movement educators. A new 4-part series to becoming a certified NMR therapist starts September 29th. Get 16.5% off when you sign up for all 4 classes! Sign up here.

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Scoliosis is often thought of as ‘C’ curves or ‘S’ curves in the spine. This is a 2- dimensional representation of the 3-dimensional shape of what is really happening.

Is Scoliosis a Genetic Predisposition?

Scoliosis is thought to be a genetic predisposition. But lots of people whose parents and grandparents don’t have Scoliosis develop this problem. The predisposition is in the length of the spine plus the stability of the supporting structures of muscle tone.  One can see why the development and discovery of Scoliosis is often during the growth spurt of the early teenage years.

Many people have the neuromuscular imbalances of a person with Scoliosis but they don’t develop the distinctive twisting and collapse of the spine.  However, as we age the torques/rotations in our body result in a loss of height.  Some of that is rotations and counter rotations in the spine, and the increased lordosis and kyphosis in the neck and ribcage.    (for more information click here for what can be done)


What Causes Scoliosis Patterns in Childhood

Typically there has been some kind of incident or accident that impacted the spine often as a young child.  Many of these incidents occur before or during the growth spurt of increased height/length during the transition from pubescence to adulthood when the bone growth outstrips the muscular strength to support them.  An impact to the spine that contains a lateral force vector can disable one of the big muscles pulling on the T/L junction for instance. These muscles may end up in a chronic spasm on one side, resulting in predictable inhibitions in other complementary muscles.  Now the spinal column is being pulled unevenly.  Being engaged in competitive sports during this period of life has its dangers.

Torsions at One Level of the Spine Affect Other Levels.

There are some logical transition points in rotational transitions, usually where the curves reverse:  SubOccipitals, the Cervical/Thoraco junction, the Thoraco/Lumbar junction, and even the L5/S1 junction. Changing what appears to be the primary rotational injury is seldom the end of the story.  All the rotations and counter rotations must be checked against one another.  This is taught in Advanced NMR for Scoliosis, scheduled August 2023, in Dallas, TX.

These rotational preferences are stored in the Cerebellum as movement and postural support strategies and produce predictable consequences in weakness and instability in joints far from the spine.

Many years of living with these unequal tensions results in layers of compensation as the body seeks stability. The problem becomes more complicated/complex as the years go by and boney changes begin to develop.

Unraveling Scoliosis

Scoliosis requires a detailed untangling of rotational imbalances in the whole postural support system of the body.  These changes in neuromuscular function can be accomplished at any age. Much of the pain that is associated with Scoliosis is neuromuscular in origin.  The body gives us pain messages when the muscles are not coordinating well.  Those pain messages are letting you know that something isn’t working right.

NeuroMuscular Reprogramming enables us to have a detailed conversation with the individual muscles impacting spinal support and movement, and to assist the body in reprogramming movement strategies for better support and stability.

How do you know that someone is Sympathetic Nervous System Dominant?

There are lots of signs that you are Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) dominant: Muscle tics in the eye lids, rapid blinking of the eyes while responding to movement instructions, labored or quick breathing, chronic tension in muscles, especially those in the back/extensor side of the body, and cognitive delays in response to instructions just to name a few. A person with SNS dominance will apologize and tell you they did not understand what you wanted them to do.


How do you measure ‘Sympathetic Tone’?

I look for common clues that indicate problems with the fundamental coordination system such as the inability to rotate the T/L junction with reciprocal ease in both directions, cognitive confusion, orientation confusion such as not knowing the difference between right and left, looking confused or misunderstanding simple directional instructions, with 2 out of 3 reciprocal rotator functions ‘off’ or inhibited.


Signs that your client’s ParaSympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is coming back online:

Gurgles and squirts in the viscera; yawning; spontaneously swallowing, dropping into a sleep state instantaneously, twitching in peripheral muscles, softening of formerly tight muscles.

Why work so hard to get muscles to relax when you can just get the ANS (autonomic nervous system) to slow down? Sympathetic Dominance may be contributing to your client’s muscle tension and inhibiting corrections in stored movement patterns. Clients with Sympathetic Dominance need Brain Function Facilitation in order to shift into the ParaSympathetic.


From the NeuroMuscular Reprogramming Instagram.