NAT - Treatment Topography
The NAT treatment is “hands-on”. It involves using a sequenced series of pressure points and stretching maneuvers. Some of it can be painful while other parts are soothing. This is for a reason - the tissues of the body have many types of receptors embedded within them. Some respond to deep touch, others to superficial touch, some to pain, others to hot or cold. All of our human experience of our environment is mediated through our tissues’ sensory receptors. Our tissues sense the world around us and translate these sensations into messages that our brain decodes.
We believe that physical therapy should contain as many types of sensation as possible. This is so that the brain can get as much feedback about a damaged area as possible. In fact, we see treatment like a landscape. It should have mountains as well as valleys, peaks as well as troughs. Pain itself is an important feedback for the brain. All too often we avoid painful sensations. This is an in-built mechanism. However, gently reproducing the pain in a therapeutic situation can be extremely beneficial when combined with gentler and less painful stimuli.
Physical therapy often involves a sequence of manoeuvres. We think that it is not so much the manoeuvres that matter as the feedback profile that these manoeuvres create in the brain. Each maneuver stimulates a different profile (set of nerve impulses) depending which tissues and nerve endings are stimulated.
Another analogy that may help to understand the way NAT works is that of a dialogue. The body and brain are in a constant state of dialogue. If you do not exercise or move around very much, the brain gets used to this diminished set of feedback mechanisms and adapts accordingly. If you are a walker or play sport, the feedback from the muscles to the brain during these activities creates a pattern, a type of vocabulary for the nervous system. The less activity you do the less rich the vocabulary.
In the case of a frozen shoulder (as in many other physical complaints) the dialogue has become greatly limited. The Niel-Asher technique, if performed in the correct order, stimulates and re-awakens this vocabulary thus allowing the body and nervous system to communicate again.
Similarly, in general, the more physical activity we do the greater the vocabulary to the brain and the greater the sense of self-awareness. For example, just doing some gentle yoga will create a tremendous amount of mind-body vocabulary.
NAT differs from other physical therapy techniques not so much by what is done, but by the order in which it is performed - in this way it is like a cooking recipe. It is the order in which NAT is performed that stimulates the damaged tissues to fire off different signals to the brain.
These signals are in specific sequences. They re-establish the relationships between the sensory feedback and the motor map within the brain.
NAT uses the various types of sensory feedback from the injured shoulder muscles to re-program the frozen shoulder and to “defrost” it quickly and efficiently.
Over 3,000 health practitioners now use the Niel-Asher Technique
I’ve worked as a Bowen Therapist in Western Australia for the last 10 years and have treated a number of people over that time with the Bowen version of frozen shoulder with definitely some success.
My partner, Jeff, was suffering from a frozen shoulder, and neither myself nor our local and well respected physiotherapist were able to make any real progress with him. Then I found your treatment program!
From the first treatment there was definite improvement, and within only a few sessions there were dramatic results. At present Jeff has no pain, and almost full range of movement back.
Since then I’ve had the privilege of treating several others with your method, mostly in the early stage of pain, especially at night and sleeping, and with sharp nerve pain on certain movements and the beginnings of restricted movement. In each case the turnaround has been a wonder to behold, and I choose to believe that we have averted a far more painful and possibly long term problem.
So, from me and each of my clients, I offer you a heartfelt thank you!
Joce Niven, Bowen Therapist
NAT embraces the body's own healing processes, as an alternative to forcing the shoulder into painful movements
The Niel-Asher Technique™ is a 'natural' method of treatment that utilizes the body's own healing mechanisms. No drugs, no surgery.
The technique uses a specific and unique sequence of manipulations and pressure points to the shoulder joints and soft-tissues. In essence, these can be thought of as 'inputs' into the nervous system.
The technique has been in use since 1997 and has been adopted and approved by Doctors, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, and Chiropractors in the UK, Europe, and the United States.
NAT works with the body, listening to the body's wisdom - not by forcing the arm into the restricted ranges but by applying gentle stimulation to muscles whilst they are resting.
How Does NAT Differ from other Treatments?
Traditional approaches to the frozen shoulder either address the inflammation (steroid tablets, steroid injections and hydrodilatation) or the stiffness (physical therapy, exercise therapy and surgical manipulation).
Physical therapies attempt to improve the range of motion by forcing the shoulder through the blockage; this in our opinion can make the condition considerably worse.
NAT works differently. We keep the arm still whilst we apply a sequence of pressure points to specific tissues. The treatment can still be painful, especially in the early freezing phase, but it is no worse than the pain of the frozen shoulder (you will know what we mean if you have had one of those nasty spasms).
The first few sessions of the technique initially address the inflammation in the rotator interval, after this the emphasis is on improving the range of motion. Depending how long you have had the problem and which phase you are in, results can be seen in as few as 4 sessions (range 4 -13).
The results can be dramatic and fast and the method is 'totally natural'. We believe it should be the first line of treatment before injections and or surgery.
How does NAT work?
A frozen shoulder seems to result from the way the brain responds to inflammation around the long head of the biceps, in the rotator interval (see anatomy). In some people, and we still don't know why, the brain over-reacts to this inflammation by switching off groups of muscles and changing their dynamics.
Traditionally, muscles are thought to operate around joints in triangles; one muscle group holds the joint still (fixators), one muscle tenses up and pulls the joint one way (agonist) whilst another opposite muscle (antagonist) relaxes.
In shoulder problems these smooth and seamless operations no longer operate properly and agonists, antagonists and fixators become confused. The brain responds to this by recruiting alternative muscles to do jobs they are not designed for (synergists).
“We keep the arm still whilst we
apply a sequence of pressure
points to specific tissues”
The Niel-Asher Technique™ stimulates groups of receptors embedded in the muscles to fire their messages to the brain. This creates a new and specific neurological profile within the part of the brain called the somato-sensory cortex. By stimulating these reflexes in a specific sequence, it is possible to change the way the brain fires muscles (the motor output).
This situation occurs in most shoulder problems and NAT includes specific treatment sequences for a range of conditions such as rotator cuff problems, biceps tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis and tendinopathy.
Helping the Body to Heal Itself
Nothing in the body happens without a good reason. The body is a beautifully complex system and when it goes wrong it is often because it is trying to protect us.
NAT embraces the body's own healing processes, as an alternative to forcing the shoulder into painful movements, or using artificial chemicals and drugs to reduce inflammation.
The technique 'fools' the body/brain into healing itself by addressing the two main components of the problem - pain and stiffness.
The unique combination of exercises and pressure techniques, stimulates a new pathway in the brain, rapidly relieving injury and spasm and increasing strength and power. This is now known as Cortex-Neuro-Somatic- Programming® (CNSP®).
The initial phases of the technique are designed to significantly reduce the pain, by treating the swelling around various shoulder tendons (especially the long head biceps tendon). Following this, the technique moves on to rapidly defrost and improve the range of shoulder motion by stimulating a unique sequence of reflexes hidden deep within the muscles.
This works on the parts of the brain that co-ordinate the shoulder muscles called the motor cortex. By using a unique choreographed sequence of reflexes one against another the brain is fooled into changing the fixed capsular pattern. We do not force the arm; instead you keep it still whilst your therapist or partner applies the pressure.
NAT Explained - Multi-Center Study Published IJOM (7/2104)