Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment

Muscles rely on communication from the brain to function - pretty obvious once you think about it, right? Less obvious: how do we correct dysfunction in the neural networks to relieve pain?


If you call a friend to ask them to help you move but the phone connection was bad, what would be the result? Maybe you'd have to try a few times to get the message across. Maybe your friend would hear an entirely different request. Maybe you wouldn't be able to understand each other at all. Now imagine that you are your brain, your muscles are your friend, and a less than optimal neural pathway is the shoddy phone connection. Our muscles can only perform a given action if they have a clear conversation with the central nervous system. When this conversation is distorted, pain and dysfunction result.


So if the underlying cause of a given musculoskeletal dysfunction is a dysfunctional neural flow, how do we correct it? How do we even determine that is the issue? Can bodywork and massage be helpful at all?


Enter Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment. DNA is a technique developed by Joseph Shwartz who was also instrumental in creating Neural Kinetic Therapy (NKT). This modality employs manual muscle testing, or MMT, to isolate dysfunctional movement patterns and then learn the primary cause of the compensation pattern. More simply put, we use movement to determine what movement in the busy is overactive, underactive, or normal and why. Even more simply put, we have a conversation with the nervous system.

Communication Between Brain and Body

Now you might be wondering, "But how can you talk with my nervous system? What does that even mean?" A conversation with the nervous system takes the form of yes or no questions, most basically “Is this responsive?.”  If you hold out your arm in front of you and I apply some pressure, the answer to this question is “yes” if it remains parallel to the floor and “no” if it drops when pressure is applied.


This is where many MMT techniques stop.  Do you see the problem? If there are states to describe movement function - normally responsive, underactive, or overactive - then receiving only yes/active/normally responsive or no/not active/under responsive answers means that we can potentially mark a

dysfunctional/overactive movement as normal. DNA dives deeper with the use of an indicator. An indicator is a movement in a part of the body that is not directly connected to the painful or dysfunctional area, that when tested immediately after the initial diagnostic test can reveal that the previous movement may have not been as functional as it appeared.

With me so far?  If not, drop a comment below.


How is DNA done?

DNA sessions are not like any other massage session.  There is much more client participation and movement. I may ask you to walk around, participate in a guided meditation, think about that time you bumped your head when you were five, bend and twist in all kinds of ways, or just breathe as I press a couple points on your stomach.  The process goes like this:


  1. Qualify an indicator

  2. Test the larger movement pattern

  3. Check the indicator

  4. Test the components of that movement of necessary

  5. Check the indicator

  6. Determine the underlying dysfunction

  7. Test the original movement

  8. Check the indicator to double check the result

  9. Make the correction (limbic, physiological, or structural)

  10. Retest the movement


We stop testing once the movements are normally functional or the body signals it is no longer safe or productive to continue.  It is definitely an interesting experience that is incredibly fun when we retest your original, painful movement and you say with a-lot-a-bit of surprise and a little bit of confusion, “That didn’t hurt at all!”

Would you like to experience this unique movement based therapy?  Call or text (856) 857-7535 to schedule your session