Posted on Leave a comment

Five Considerations for Your Assessment Strategies

By streamlining assessment via the considerations outlined in Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ Seminars, you can save yourself and your client a lot of time and energy. Let’s illustrate this with several of the considerations that make DNA™ unique.

First Consideration: Keeping the container safe

DNA™ teaches us effective ways to monitor the response of our client’s nervous system in order to keep the container safe.  Our nervous system chooses adaptation strategies as a protection mechanism. These strategies have a priority. There is the primary compensation and the potential for multiple secondary compensations. These secondary compensations boost the primary compensation. If we indiscriminately remove a secondary compensation, we are inadvertently creating a void in the container of our client’s coping strategies. The nervous system then must adapt to not having that available element. What the nervous system chooses to fill that void with may potentially be more maladaptive than the original coping strategy. This can happen in all three categories of the trine in Applied Kinesiology: movement and structure, physiology and subtle body energy, and limbic associations and emotions. The danger here is that if we kick out the leg in a three-legged stool…something is going to crash. This can become a big problem if the nervous system chooses to utilize the energy system from our physiology or limbic associations to bolster dysfunctional movement.

Second Consideration: Manual Muscle Testing can and will produced skewed results

Protocols we utilize in Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ allow us to recognize when the false negative and the two false positives show up in MMT. There are two causes for this. First, the practitioner may have unresolved issues in their mind/body. As practitioners, we affect the outcome. Our expectations and projections, conscious and unconscious, have an impact on the testing results. The second cause is the response we are getting from the client. There are two false positives and one false negative that are constantly showing up in our MMT. If these are not vetted, our correlation of relationship and causation will be skewed. We need a specific process, or protocol like what is shared in DNA™, to double check when the movement response gives us faulty data.

Third Consideration: Global / Local / Global

Global assessment in DNA™ evaluates the ability of the nervous system to respond using feed-forward assessment. This allows the nervous system the opportunity to utilize the primary compensation. Then we can further vet the dysfunction by looking at the local components. The first global assessment gets us in the right neighborhood, the local components, or building blocks of movement, gets us to the right house. As we continue with the process we end up in the right room, in the right house in the right neighborhood. After we have vetted the primary driver, restored normal response, we can insert that back into the global movement for re-evaluation. The global local global approach is much faster at vetting the primary compensation. This is the opposite of the hit or miss strategy of relying on local assessment to resolve a presentation.

Fourth Consideration: Secondary compensation leads us astray from the primary driver

When we are evaluating movement, every dysfunction has the potential of multiple pieces. How we trace, or map, the dysfunctional components in DNA™ makes a difference in the outcome for your client. We must treat each piece as a potential symptom and completely vet the presentation before we employ a corrective strategy. This relates back to the first consideration and is a major tenet of DNA™, we do not want to remove a secondary coping strategy as that creates vulnerability. The mapping process specifically vets the dysfunctions to arrive at the primary dysfunction. Initially this may seem like the tortoise and the hare approach. The hare would be treating what they find as it presents itself. The tortoise looks at the complete presentation before using laser focused corrective strategies that have the most impact with the least amount of intervention.

Fifth Consideration: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand, the SAID principle is our ally in efficiency

DNA™ radically optimizes your assessment by implementing the SAID principle.  The SAID principle has two primary ways it affects the outcome of our work. The first is the preliminary steps we take during the evaluation process. Does the process complete the map of the presentation? When it does, we can then cue the nervous system to all the elements that correlate to the primary dysfunction. When we employ a corrective, then the nervous system has an understanding of how these pieces interrelate. We then get the most value from the least amount of work. The second way the SAID principle affects the outcome is related to the corrective strategy itself. If we have not cued the nervous system appropriately, then the nervous system must interpret what, how and why the pieces fit together. Often, the nervous system is unable to fill in the missing pieces. When this happens, our corrective strategy will be temporary at best. This is why clients will return with the same presentation over and over. The nervous system is not getting enough information to make a sustainable change. Instead, when the environment load increases beyond capacity, the nervous system returns to a familiar coping strategy.

Let’s look at how these five considerations weave together in an evaluation process. This is an excerpt from a recent DNA™ Module One practicum.

Intention: Assessment of the breathing apparatus

Global Skill: QiGong Posture

Visual: appears that the diaphragms move out of alignment creating a lack of integrity in the core cylinder

MMT: Functional Dysfunctional Response: Correlation to Limbic Association

Local Components:

Sacrospinalis / multifidus –  normally responsive

TVA –  normally responsive

Pelvic Floor –  functional dysfunctional

Vet Pelvic Floor:

Structural – L sub-occipitals TL

Vet L sub-occipitals – functional dysfunctional

Structural – R jaw TL

Vet R Jaw – functional dysfunctional

Limbic Association TL- same association as the global movement association

Double check our work:

Client TL’s the R Jaw

Retest PF and L sub-occipitals

Normal Response


Cue the associated movements into the nervous system (order matters)

Limbic hold on the Bennett points (a generic cranial hold while observing the breath)

Retest: (in the same order)

PF normal response

Sub-occipitals normal response

Jaw  normal response

Re-insert local components back into the Global Movement

Normal Response!


Using Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ our first consideration is the safety of our client’s nervous system.  We then add stability into the system. We did not remove coping strategies creating vulnerability. The old paradigm would indicate that we would have released sub-occipitals. If we would have tried to correct a dysfunctional component that is correlated to a limbic association, potentially the volume of that limbic input would increase. That would have essentially kicked the third leg out of the three-legged stool.

Limbic associations can have multiple layers mirroring the template of compensations with primary and secondary/s. We toned down the association. We did not necessarily remove or clear. We tone it down so that the nervous system can appropriately respond to the environment. There may be more work needed to effect sustainable change.

Using only one corrective – in the DNA™paradigm – we restored movement function to all the local components and the initial global assessment. That could not have happened if we did not utilize the SAID principle in our assessment and correction.

Posted on Leave a comment

“one ring to bind them all”

The Intrinsic Kinetic Chain is the first of Five Primary Kinetic Chains. If I may, I will use an analogy from the epic series by JRR Tolkien, it is: “one ring to bind them all.” This sums up the intrinsic kinetic chain. Breath is essential for survival. Breath is the barometer for vitality. Breath is intrinsically connected to the central nervous system.

The thoracic diaphragm is a striated muscle that is directly connected to the autonomic nervous system. As such, we are incapable of holding our breath to the point of oxygen deprivation. Survival reflexes will override and the body will issue instructions to contract the thoracic diaphragm.

The thoracic diaphragm acts like a bellows for the lungs. The rib cage, provides the support structure so that when the thoracic diaphragm contracts, intra-abdominal pressure changes. The pressure drops, and negative intra-abdominal pressure creates a void. That void is then filled with positive atmospheric pressure, filling our lungs with precious life giving oxygen.

The thoracic diaphragm works in partnership with the pelvic diaphragm. The thoracic diaphragm is a dome that faces upward. Contraction pulls the dome downward. The opposite is true for the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic floor is a dome facing downward. Contraction pulls the dome upward.

When we breathe, the domes of the thoracic & pelvic diaphragms move in sync. They move in the same direction, though one is in concentric action while the other is in eccentric. During the inhalation phase, the thoracic diaphragm is in concentric activation while the pelvic diaphragm is in eccentric. Both domes are moving downward. While the thoracic diaphragm is pushing the visceral contents of the abdomen downward, the pelvic floor provides the hammock that supports the viscera.

Restoring the proper sequence in breathing is often the foundation of the therapeutic process. As the mechanics of the breathing apparatus are restored, balance can return to the structural, physiological, and emotional components.

Posted on 4 Comments

Limbic vs Cognitive ~ A Conversation

Today I’m sharing a recent conversation between a colleague and I regarding limbic versus cognitive behavior that I hope brings you some food for thought:

Some people find the holidays a stressful time of the year. Stress correlates to an up-regulated sympathetic nervous system. We often hear “take a deep breath” as an easy way to regulate.

Let’s reframe this slightly. To take a deep breath requires being in action. With an up-regulated sympathetic nervous system, we are already doing too much. Instead, let’s be the observer.

Imagine that that the breath is like a glass of water. When you fill a glass with water, the water fills from the bottom to the top. Conversely, when you empty the glass, the water empties from the top to the bottom. As you observe your breath, feel the inhalation expanding the belly, the lower ribs, then the upper ribs and clavicle. And as the exhalation happens, watch the breath descend in the reverse order.

Being the observer allows you to tune into the sensation rather than focus on accomplishing something. This subtle reframe has a profound effect on your experience in that moment. We can’t think our way out of a sympathetic nervous system response, however we can feel our way through as we navigate sensations.

Amy Maynard Buckles: “Being the observer allows you to tune into the sensation rather than focus on accomplishing something.” Love that!  Why can’t we think our way out of a sympathetic nervous system response?

 There is a long version and a short version to that question.

The short version is related to the mechanism of information gathered by the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The limbic inputs, the sensory apparatus of the body, the five-traditional and the non-traditional senses communicate with the ANS. That information is collated and prioritized based on past experiences: our associations and hard-wired reflexives. The most relevant way that we can affect our ANS is through the sensory input of the limbic channels. This points to why breath work, aromatherapy, and the five tastes are such powerful tools that we can utilize to make change in the response to our environment.

Personally, I am most interested in the non-traditional senses. The information we take in from our environment, such as electromagnetic fields, barometric pressure, bioelectric energy, and so forth. There are unknown realms of information that we are experiencing and collating at an unconscious level. This spectrum of perception I find fascinating.

The tip of the iceberg analogy also works well here. Twenty-five percent of information is perceived consciously, while 75% of information largely goes unperceived by our consciousness. That is huge.

Buckles: Great explanation and info to share! I am curious as to your thoughts on how much of our conscious thoughts, with practice, could change the ANS response. Like in a panic attack for example.  I understand that while focusing on breath, we are out of our heads and more into our body awareness. Which, would activate the PNS. To me, that’s not thinking. However, if we gain information about our environment, our safety, and other sources of input and responses…then we can consciously choose to think differently. Hopefully not only to prevent ANS distress, but also reverse or stop it.

 “consciously choose to think differently”

That is a key to cognitive thought process.

Here is the big challenge to overcome:  thought is chemistry. The Law of Adaptation says that the body adapts to its environment regardless of outcome.

Emotions are a specific cocktail of chemistry. We get better, more efficient at making the “cocktails” of our predisposition. Those chemicals require receptor sites to plug into. Over time we end up making more of that unique composition of chemistry to fill the receptor sites. Through adaptation, we become addicted to thought. Overcoming that requires conscious effort.

If our predisposition is to respond to a situation in a familiar way, reproducing those feelings becomes easier each time we have them. You can see this in people that have “knee jerk reactions” — these folks are quick to produce the chemical signature they are familiar with.

Some people have the disposition to do that kind of work on a cognitive level; change your thoughts and change your behavior.  Others need stimulus from the other part of the brain, the limbic center. These are the people that do better at maintaining attention on sensation.

There is a loop in the brain and how we process our environment:


Sensory—>past or projection of future—>Ego or survival

Our ability to interpret the information of our sensory apparatus, and reframe from a place of being hijacked by associations that are interpreted by the ego, define our ability to cope.



Posted on 1 Comment

The Body Map

Our choices for responding to our environment depends on the relationship between our body map and the environment. The body map is how the brain sees what movements are available to solve the movement equation. How we create integrated movement is by assembling the available building blocks to which we have access via the body map.

Integration starts with individual building blocks. To develop a complete body map, we need to disassemble movement into its smallest components. When we have conscious control of these smaller components, we can then start to assemble them into bigger blocks. This is the process of building the body map.

When we have a gap, a blind spot, a place that we are unable to access, the motor control center will come up with a strategy to move around that blind spot. This is an adaptive process, and this is a compensation.

We find these blind spots by asking ourselves where in our movement we have lost integration. We can observe blind spots in others when we observe overexertion, clunky movement, or their faces wincing in pain.

Ideally, our movement is like flowing water: smooth, controlled, and efficient. Water is always taking the path of least resistance. Likewise, efficient movement is learned by using the least amount of energy to accomplish the most amount of work.

As our body map expands, the motor control center has more choices for finding an efficient solution to the movement equation. This is how our movement becomes refined and more efficient.

How do we become the inner observer and cultivate deeper awareness of our own response to gaps in the body map and compensation?

The answer to that question is by introducing body map capacity programming.

Priming the nervous system for work capacity is a multi-step process. First we must recover the movement to which we no longer have access. This requires the disassembly of movement to its smallest components, individual joint articulation. Then we prime each joint by using the functional compass. This wakes up the mechanoreceptors that relay position and optimize kinetic chain sequencing. Priming the joints brings circulation and lubrication to the joint capsule and surrounding tissues. After the nervous system is primed, we can then expand on the individual building blocks and we start to assemble multiple movements into kinetic chain sequences.

Yoga asana and martial arts kata are examples of formats for assembling kinetic chains of movement. Individual goals, impediments and discipline of movement should be considered when developing a body map practice that is tailored for you and your needs.