A GENTLE FIX: Neuroenergetic Release® Targets Core Distortions

by Chris Cunningham, M.S. (Reprinted with permission) Featured in Massage Magazine March/April 2004

The Neuroenergetic Release® (NER) practitioner lightly presses her fingers on two points at a time—across and down the length of the client’s body. She instructs the client to take a shallow breath following each touch. By holding specific points in the muscle and soft tissue, the practitioner hopes to help release what she calls patterns of distortion in the client’s posture and structure.

NER may be so subtle as to be imperceptible. Yet, clients say the relief this therapy offers is immediate, dramatic and in some cases, profound. They say that NER can relieve recently acquired pain; diminish long-term disabilities; and provide an immediate sense of well-being.

The technique releases structural imbalances, facilitates energy flow and helps the body realign on its own, says Don Kipp, the Colorado-based massage therapist who developed NER nine years ago. He and others who use NER principles in their bodywork sessions say that the technique soothes soft tissues, improves posture and re-aligns dysfunctional skeletal systems. And the improvements seem to endure.

“You trust that the universe will send you more clients,” Kipp says, half jokingly.

“(NER) has the potential for helping others in a profound way,” he adds. “[And] it’s a lot less work for the practitioner,” who can sit while treating the client. Rather than rely on pressure and forced change, the practitioner gently assists the body’s natural, self-correcting response by applying only the slightest pressure on two points simultaneously, using a point system that Kipp developed.

“Digital empathy” is the practitioner’s most essential skill, he says. “You almost know what the person is feeling without their saying anything. You know where the pain is, and how the tissue feels.

“It doesn’t have to hurt,” he adds, “it doesn’t have to be hard.”


Where systems intersect

NER addresses what Kipp calls core-distortion patterns—those imbalances, irregularities and patterns of compensation that are stored in the body. “Core distortion patterns develop after a trauma or an injury, or may be the result of the birth process itself’ he explains. The patterns exist to some extent on physical, energetic and emotional planes, says Kipp, who believes these irregularities are at the root of almost all bodily pain and dysfunction.

NER operates where the neurological, energetic and muscular systems intersect, Kipp says, adding that NER practitioners work on both a physical and an energetic level.

Core distortion patterns create contracted or weak spots that make the body susceptible to injury. The patterns are insidious and tend to worsen over time, surfacing in a variety of symptoms later in life, including chronic back, neck and shoulder pain; headaches; joint tenderness; and digestive problems. “If there is a contraction, it’s that way because the nervous system is telling it to be that way” as a way to compensate, Kipp says.

Kipp was a pre-med major in college, before becoming a massage therapist, and has completed advanced studies in myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, TMJ techniques, sports massage, energy work and structural-bodywork practices. He says his own physical challenges nudged him to seek relief from chronic pain.

In fact, he first developed a familiarity with bodywork techniques when he experienced their healing effects following a back injury. Kipp crafted the early NER principles while he was examining the theories of several techniques from which he had directly benefited: neuromuscular therapy, trigger-point therapy, massage, chiropractic techniques, myofascial release, Rolfing®, craniosacral therapy, osteopathy, polarity and acupuncture. He wanted to see what these healing therapies had in common.

“(NER) crosses so many boundaries. I’ve drawn upon what’s in [each modality] and what works,” Kipp’ says. “If I could feel different when I got off the table, I’d study that practice to see what made the difference.”

One characteristic these techniques share is helping the client balance his or her energy flow. Ultimately, Kipp says, his ideas were inspired by healing therapies that concentrate simultaneously on energy systems, and bones and muscles, rather than from therapies that focus solely on bony manipulation.

For example, by working closely with chiropractors, Kipp came to understand the treatment goals, theory and philosophy of chiropractic medicine. But, while chiropractic medicine is based on the premise that the spine influences the functioning of the entire body, NER contends that the entire body influences the spine, explains Kipp, who works on the alignment of the whole body, from “head to foot.”

Over time, he incorporated elements of massage, chiropractic medicine, neuromuscular therapy, polarity, acupuncture, Jin Shin, myofascial release and Rolfing, into the foundations of NER.


NER's development

Kipp began teaching NER to small groups of bodywork therapists about seven years ago. So far, he has trained about 175 people. He presently teaches classes of 12 to 14 students. Many of his students are massage therapists who have decided they want to practice NER exclusively or occasionally. Kipp says he believes bodywork therapists can “incorporate NER into their practices a few seconds or minutes, and it can have a profound effect.”

Cathy Kronen is a licensed massage therapist who now uses NER exclusively in the practice she shares with her chiropractor husband, Richard, at the Healing Light Institute in Denver, Colorado. A car accident propelled Kronen into a search for a therapy that would allay her chronic pain. Numbness in her hands and a herniated disk were so uncomfortable she thought she would have to give up her massage practice.

She received chiropractic treatment from Richard, whom she credits with keeping her “functional” She also tried Rolfing, physical therapy, and saw a neurologist—each with limited results. Even before the accident, her posture was compromised with a forward-head posture, abnormal hip rotation and scoliosis. “I was a real sick unit,” she admits.

Once Kronen tried NER, she found relief, she says. “From the first session, I knew it would be effective. [Kipp] gave me hope, and proceeded to back it up with action.” After subsequent NER treatments, her balance was “totally” restored, and her pelvis was realigned. “The changes in my body were so profound,” she adds.

Kronen, who studied under Kipp before incorporating NER into her practice says, “We help the body restore its blueprint. NER gives you a modality to help a person effect change.” These days, about 5 percent of Kronen’s clients come for massage, and 95 percent For NER. More than 80 percent of her caseload are word-of-mouth referrals from other NER clients.

Elizabeth Connelly says she is an inch and a half taller after seeing Kronen. She had, at age 37, a Dowager’s hump. “I had been standing like this for 20 years,” says Connelly, who saw Kronen for 16 treatments. “The longer you have been in a certain position, the longer it takes to get out of it.” But eventually, “I stood up and had no hump,” she says. “I’m a converted believer. I don’t know how or why. I just know it works.”

Scott Mathison has been an NER practitioner in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, for more than a year. “I began experiencing NER as a [client] of Don’s when he was experimenting with it,” says Mathison, whose doctor told him he would have to live in chronic pain the rest of his life following a motorcycle accident.

Like Kronen and Kipp, virtually all Mathison’s clients come to him by word-of-mouth. “I’m booked two months in advance and have over 30 people on my waiting list at all times,” he says.


A typical session

In the initial NER visit, the client lays supine on a massage table in comfortable clothing while the practitioner completes a structural and palpatory analysis, listening carefully to how the client describes where he or she is experiencing pain or discomfort. The practitioner gently presses fingers on “bony landmarks” the length of the body, describing to the client any asymmetries or uneven distances between the temples, shoulders, hips and pelvic bones, and the length of the legs. The practitioner notes the distortions on an anatomical wall chart showing front, back and side body views. Much like a road map, the chart will guide the course of treatment during the session and later serve as an objective measurement for gauging client progress.

Next, the practitioner identifies the two corresponding NER points that are associated with the observed distortions, such as the shoulder blade and the spine or the abdomen and the temple. Although NER uses its own specific set of designated points for restoring balance, the practice also includes acupuncture and trigger points. When the practitioner identifies and holds the correct points in the muscle and soft tissue that are holding the structure in a faulty position, the imbalances lessen and sometimes disappear.

Both clients and therapists say they can feel the rapid release from pain or discomfort, often in a matter of seconds, Kipp says. Once this phase of treatment is completed, the practitioner asks the client to stand in front of a grid chart for new measurements. All structural changes are noted on the chart: A head—forward position that was once one-and-a-half inches might be a much-improved one-half inch forward. Hips that were severely out of alignment at 30 degrees may measure six degrees post -session.

The client lies back on the table again, and the practitioner spends the next half-hour releasing other distortion patterns, followed by another set of measurements at the wall grid.

For long-term health maintenance, Mathison recommends that clients perform stretching and strengthening exercises. “I try to give them exercises they can do in five minutes, two times each day,” says Mathison. He also recommends they call as soon as they notice a problem resurfacing. Mathison likens the NER healing process to dealing with dandelions: “You can keep chopping and eventually problems will lessen, or you can pull them up
by the root. [NER] gets to the root of the problem,” he says. “It locates core distortions.

“This does not force change,” Mathison adds. “It facilitates change.”


Changing the whole

Although Sammy Huntington noted pain relief and improved posture after one such session, she scheduled three more visits. She describes NER treatments as “very relaxing… nothing invasive. [Kipp’s] working with energy [and] realigning it.”

Huntington started going to Kipp about four years ago because she wanted relief from back, neck and hip injuries that had troubled her after digging a duck pond on her property in 1980, and from a whiplash injury before that. Huntington, who is in her 50s, says she had to be vigilant about how she reached and walked. Chiropractic treatment, massage, polarity therapy, acupuncture and Feldenkrais gave her varying degrees of relief. “[But] I was at a point I didn’t know anything I could do,” says Huntington, who learned from Kipp that she had a tilted hip and a dysfunctional forward-head position.

If Huntington has a re-occurring bout with pain, she quickly schedules additional appointments—usually about four a year. Huntington says the out-of-pocket expense of $120 for more than an hour of treatment is a good deal, considering the effectiveness of so few sessions. “I can tell the difference after a treatment,” says Huntington. “It’s so obvious a change. There’s a shift in the way the body is on the feet.”

Barbara Schroeder, a client of Kipp’s in Westminster, Colorado, remarks that after NER, a client might have some progression, then some regression, and still be within normal range. During her first visit, Schroeder learned that her pelvis was tilted and that her lumbar curve and forward-head posture were exaggerated. Her hips, while not perfect at the moment, are positioned at a healthy 10 degrees, and she now sits upright.

“Everything in the body is related,” Kipp concludes. “You can’t change anyone part of the whole without changing the whole.”

Chris Cunningham has written more than 250 articles on complementary and conventional health and medicine for newspapers, magazines and Web sites. Prior to her writing career; she worked in hospital and long-term care administration. She can be contacted at: chriscunning@uswest.net


To learn More

• Students usually begin their NER studies with an introductory class before enrolling in NER learning modules offered around the country. For more information, visit https://body-awareness.com/to-learn/  or call 303-697-4923.