My travels around the world and a career in sport have enabled me to meet and work closely with some truly amazing people. People who are leaders in their fields. People with a strong vision for themselves and their purpose in life. People who empower other people to excel and get the best out of themselves. These ‘people’ are what I like to call ‘Gurus’. The ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting are often hidden within our society and are somewhat hard to find. They are not outspoken. They do not preach and they are often modest and under-stated about their work and genius skill. Naturally I am drawn to these kinds of people. Mostly, they go about their business, just wanting to improve the lives of others. There is no way I would have achieved the pinnacle in my sport without the help of a few irreplaceable gurus. In this section, Interview with a Guru, I’m going to unlock and reveal some secret weapons and hidden gems. TRUE gurus within numerous fields including psychology, strength and conditioning, nutrition, sports medicine, yoga, clinical pilates and various types of physical therapists.
Guru – Michael Nixon-Livy, Osteopath & Founder of NST
On a recent flight back to Australia from Europe I had the pleasure of sitting next to a lovely Aussie chap by the name of Michael Nixon-Livy. Apart from having a cool name, his gentle and friendly demeanour sparked conversation and we swapped stories of who we were and what we did. His background is in osteopathy however I soon learned that he had founded and developed his own technique called NST – Neurostructural Integration Technique, which he has been teaching all over the world in clinics since it’s inception. After chatting and learning more about his technique, I knew he’d be a good candidate for Interview with a Guru.
What is NST and how are you different?
In simple terms, NST is a skilful manual therapy technique designed to integrate the spinal column, pelvic structures and cranium via stimulation to neuromuscular system. For these reasons NST is often referred to as soft-tissue Osteopathy, however its scope of application goes well beyond classical Osteopathy in as much as NST can be applied to any part of the body quickly linking any affected body part back to the spine. This gives NST a range of application and immediacy of result that is unprecedented.
Typically NST is used in two main professional endeavours:
- In general clinical practice where it is used with sublime effect to resolve conditions such as back and neck pain or any condition to do with the articulations for example shoulders, hips, knees. Good examples would be Rheumatism and Fibromyalgia.
- In professional sport where it is applied with excellent effect to all soft tissue injury conditions including strains, sprains, fascial distortions, muscle distortions, tendons, ligaments, nerves and discs. Furthermore NST’s usage as a preventative strategy is second to none as it quickly and efficiently optimises muscular and fascial tensions throughout the body that are so often the hidden culprits that have unknowingly predisposed an athlete to injury or lack of optimal performance.
But NST comprises one other extremely important strategy that perhaps sets it apart from all other forms of sports medicine, osteopathic, spinal work or body work techniques in that it includes a psychosomatic component that enables the practitioner to deal with the psychological components of either injury or performance related issues. The integrated psychosomatic component NST leverages results for sporting professionals into another realm as it deals with the complete nervous system including its emotional charge.
As an example we often speak of a hamstring injury as being a just hamstring injury, but if we think a bit deeper we could really call it a back-related hamstring injury because literally the two are inseparable but to complete the picture in its entirety we should really call the hamstring injury an emo-back related hamstring injury as the emotional content will be in the tissue either through shock, prolonged pain or stress.I’m convinced that unless you take the emotion out of the tissue, the injury will not be fully resolved…at least not quickly.
The same can be said for when a sporting professional has a case of the ‘yips’. If we attempt to correct the emotional issues involved without at the same time addressing biomechanical components of the ‘yips’ obtaining optimal results in efficient time frames will be tricky at best in most cases. A blocked emotion will affect muscle function just as profoundly as will a blocked nerve because they belong to the same system. Emotions do not take place in the brain they are a body event as much as a cerebral one!
What inspired you to develop NST?
Perhaps it was not so much inspiration but more opportunity and duty that got NST started.
In the early 90’s I was working in a Kinesiological Clinic in Carlton called Kinesiology House with a Dr. Charles Krebs. Charles a brilliant kinesiologist had pioneered a program called LEAP (learning enhancement advanced program) for the correction of Dyslexia, ADHD and profound learning disabilities in children.
As I had studied kinesiology with Charles some years earlier and used LEAP myself he invited me to join him at Kinesiology House quiet literally to assist with burgeoning client load that was only exacerbated by the fact that he had started travelling to Europe frequently to teach LEAP via some exclusive post graduate health institutes.
It was not unusual for a new client to have to wait 2-3 months for a session.
A LEAP program for an individual would typically involve 12 two-hour intensive sessions where kinesiological and emotional release strategies were employed to great effect.
When I started at Kinesiology House, I also brought with me a collection of structural techniques that I had fashioned into a clinical approach that I had been using to correct back and neck pain. These included an eclectic group of techniques from chiropractic, osteopathic, applied kinesiology and bowen.
When I started working at Kinesiology House I added my structural strategies to the LEAP program and this had an immediate and startling result. It reduced the amount of hours required to complete a LEAP program for a child from 12 to just 8 or 6 two hours sessions.
Charles insisted that I come to Europe and show his colleagues there what I had been doing so I reluctantly agreed to attend an international kinesiology conference in Garda, Italy in 1995. The response to my work was so compelling that I was invited to return to Europe in 1996 to teach my methods in both Osteopathic and Kinesiological institutes in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy.
I spent the remainder of 1995 and early part of 1996 converting my approach into a structured learnable spinal integration system and gave it the name NST as this described what it accomplished most accurately.
NST was launched in a French osteopathic college in southern France near Marseille in May 1996 and has quite literally enjoyed phenomenal and sustained growth for almost 20 years.
What do you believe is the key to long-term spinal health?
The key to long-term spinal health if there is a single key must be quite simply the same key for health of the human organism as a whole. The three most fundamental requirements of any creature that walks the earth are movement, nutrition and oxygenation.
Naturally the organism has other requirements such as shelter, protection and companionship but movement, nutrition and oxygenation take precedence. In modern societies around the world we constantly see the evidence of humans misunderstanding these three vital concepts and performing them poorly often with grave consequences for their health.
A large part of the issue has to be lack of appropriate education at home and in schools where children have the opportunity to have impressed upon them the critical importance of taking care of the human organism properly so that health, wealth and longevity can be created as a consequence.
In the 1700’s the French philosopher Voltaire had the following to say about the consequences of the mismanagement of these vital concepts. He said: “In the first part of our lives we sacrifice our health to accumulate wealth and in the second part of our lives we sacrifice our wealth to buy back our health”
Scientists tell us that we have a genetic potential for about 120-140 years yet most typically humans fall well short of achieving these years often succumbing to illness and diseases in out 70’s and 80’s.
There is no question that the human experience is designed to be temporary yet whether it is more temporary or less temporary is largely up to us and attending to proper movement, nutrition and oxygenation is fundamental to achieving sustainable health and longevity.
Do you have any favourite stretches or stability exercises for self management of a healthy spine/pelvis?
I use a group of exercises to help unlock the spinal column, pelvic girdle and cranium as outlined in my little book NST – A better way to good health. It is available as a free download at:
http://www.nsthealth.com/sites/default/files/uploads/NST_book_en.pdf (scroll to the end for descriptions and diagrams of Michael’s exercises)
Apart from these exercises I also help my clients shift towards better health by making simply dietary changes such as consuming 70-80% of their food by way of healthy carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables. This not only helps eliminate harmful toxins from the body but also builds a blood stream from which healthy tissue is built. Health tissue build healthy organs and muscles, which in turn create a robust physiology and ultimate ‘health’.
Given modern day nutritional deficiencies in our food chain (for reasons such as poor agriculture, harvesting, storage issues) I also recommend a simple program of broad spectrum minerals and vitamins to literally ‘fill in the gaps’ specifically nutritionally speaking, that exist in our diets. This has proven to be a major positive in the cultivation of health.
I am also extremely fond of fasting practices for cleansing the blood and tissue. A simple example of fasting is ‘intermittent fasting’ which simply means that when the evening meal is finished at around 7pm that no further food is taken until 11am to 12 noon the following day.This provides for a huge break on our digestive system that ultimately results in energy conservation and rejuvenation.
Longer term fasting at the change of the seasons for a bout 3-7 days is also something that I personally practice and recommend for those interested in maximising genetic potential and lifespan.
It’s pretty clear that Michael is unique and effective in his treatment style. For more information, videos and to get in touch with Michael, go to: http://www.nsthealth.com