Neuro Kinetic Sequence
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Simple progressive movements that unlock your potential. Now offered in group workshops and individualised sessions.
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What is NKS?
Neural Kinetic Sequence is bilateral integration which refers to the development of coordination, balance and postural control, which lay the foundations of generalised movement capabilities upon which is built skilled performance in tennis or other sports. Early stages of learning to move the body, maintaining balance and achieving automatic control of posture, from birth onwards, establish the billions of neural pathways which, through repetition and diversity of experience, become secured and integrated to form a vast reservoir of general movement capabilities. An individual’s ability to effortlessly coordinate their body, maintain balance and postural control facilitates the effortful acquisition of skilled performance in sport.
Bilateral integration capabilities include the ability to coordinate the limbs individually and together with precision and efficiency, the ability to maintain balance and postural control in static and dynamic situations, the ability to produce efficient locomotion and movement into the space that surrounds the body, the ability to know and understand the position and movement of the limbs (proprioception), and the ability to think and move simultaneously (tactics).
With appropriate testing any deficiencies in bilateral integration can be identified and remediated through training in a developmental programme of bilateral integration exercises.
How the Brain Produces Movement
Controlled voluntary movement gradually develops through a process known as adaptive responses or purposeful goal directed movement. Higher centres of the brain including the frontal cortex are involved in planning and executing movement. Once a possible plan of neurological pathways to initiate movement has been formulated the primary motor cortex takes over to trigger the movement response. Thereafter the cerebellum is engaged in producing a coordinated movement response. Feedback from the movement allows for future adjustments to the neurological pathway thereby producing ever more controlled movement.
Movement in this sense includes control of the limbs, maintenance of balance and posture and locomotion.
This process is extremely effortful initially. However, neurological pathways established to produce movement are strengthened through repetition until such times as movement becomes largely automatic and relatively effortless. Awareness of our movement retreats to the recesses of our mind only to come to our attention, for example, when learning a new movement task.
Balance and Postural Control
Balance is controlled via the vestibular system located in the inner ear. The vestibular system consists of two main structures. First, there is a complex structure of semi-circular canals. These register rotational movements of the head. Second, there are the otolith organs. The otolith organs consist of the utricle which registers head tilts and the saccule which registers linear movements.
The maintenance of balance and posture occurs through a process of modulation. The vestibular system sends information to the brain regarding the status of the body in relation to gravity. The motor centres of the brain then sends information through the Central Nervous System and onward via the peripheral nervous system to muscles and joints to maintain normalised muscle tone and appropriate joint alignment to maintain postural stability and balance control. Normalised muscle tone refers to the minimum level of muscle tension needed to maintain posture and balance. This is contrasted with rigidity, too much tension and flaccidity, too little tension.
The Somatosensory Cortex
The somatosensory cortex is an area of the brain where a map of the body’s surface is located providing an internal reference point for where we end and space around us begins. This body map is referred to as the body schema and is a system of sensory-motor capacities that function without awareness or the necessity of perceptual monitoring. This allows for sub-conscious monitoring and control of coordination, balance and postural control.
The body schema develops and is constantly being updated from a number of inputs including proprioceptive information from movement, muscle contractions, joint movement, touch, balance and vision. Gradually the map of the body’s surface is built up so that the map includes an awareness of back and front of the body, top and bottom and right and left.
Proprioception is our sense of knowing where different parts of the body are and to carry out complex manoeuvres without conscious awareness. This term is often incorrectly used interchangeably with kinesthesis. Kinesthesis refers to sensations arising from muscle contraction. Proprioception encompasses all sensations involving body position, either at rest or in motion.
Peripersonal space refers to the space immediately around the body to the front and back, above and below and left and right. This is the space that we can reach into with our limbs (and any extension of these such as a racquet in tennis).
The brain has a limited capacity for attention and tends to operate in two modes referred to as System 1 and System 2.
System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to effortful mental activities that demand it.
This pool of mental effort is shared between all variants of voluntary effort, cognitive, emotional or physical. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice and concentration. The extremely diverse operations of System 2 all require attention and are disrupted when attention is drawn away.
An example of the automatic activity that is attributed to System 1 is the performance a familiar and well-practised tennis technique.
An example of activity that requires the attention of System 2 is the learning of a new or modified tennis technique.
System 1 is effortless and this is the default mode we would like to be in most of the time.
System 2 is effortful and also lazy! As we become more accomplished in a task requiring System 2 the demand for energy decreases. A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive and movement tasks. Simply put if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will tend to gravitate to the least demanding course of action. Whenever effortful activities require sustained attention our natural inclination is to accept an outcome that is close enough. This is the case if an activity is one of cognition or of movement, balance or postural control.
Normal development ensures that movement, balance and postural control develop to the point of automaticity and under the control of System 1 requiring little or no attention and effort. When difficulties with movement, balance and postural control exist System 2 is required to devote attention and effort to these functions reducing the capacity to pay attention and give effort to other aspects of functioning.
Bilateral integration is a means of developing automaticity of movement, balance and postural control, thereby shifting more of the System 2 effortful activities into the effortless System 1 and in so doing frees up more of the limited capacity for attention for other tasks.
Bilateral integration refers to:
Bilateral Integration exercises are based on neuro-motor developmental principles.