Reflex associated problems usually manifest themselves during the formative years. However, if these abnormalities are not recognised during childhood, they must be compensated for in some way. The price paid for performance is usually increased susceptibility to stress.
It is common for symptoms to first appear during times of significant change. This brings to the surface difficulties that have been previously concealed by the process of compensation. When these problems are identified and treated at a neurological and physical level, players start to succeed in their chosen careers.
Many people, including professional sport players, don’t realise they may have varying degrees of immaturity of the Central Nervous System (CNS) or Neuro-Developmental Delay (NDD) which may surface when under stress, such as in a sporting final, a must-win situation, correctly executing movement patterns or even living and working away in a new environment.
This may cause aberrant primitive reflex(es) (NDD) to be activated, stimulating interference with the natural execution of the skills needed for that performance, possibly causing anxiety, affecting decision making and self confidence (mental toughness).
The stressful situation may show that there are gaps or windows within the development of the central nervous system (neurological dysfunction / neuromotor immaturity), affecting elite performance at a critical time.
This may have gone unnoticed throughout the player’s life, until the stressful situation comes along, interfering with performance, resulting in possibly fear, anxiety or stress (which can cause brain fog) affecting decision making and streamline performance at critical times, when usually everything is fine and cool, mental toughness and relaxation are the norm.
Players cannot consciously control this situation as the reflexive stimulation and activation is triggered by the lower brain, without cortical control, so interfering with decision making at the right time, and precision of movement.
Many athletes may not have any knowledge of, understanding or conscious experience of aberrant primitive or under-developed postural reflexive interference in everyday or sporting movement patterns. This may have been previously concealed by the process of compensation It is something that they have grown up with and so have no experience of anything different in performance. They will assume to be normal because they have never known anything else.
Dr. Peter Blythe of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology said in January 2012, “I believe everyone has some degree of immaturity of the Central Nervous System” (CNS).
With elite athletes who need to perform to their highest level and potential, diagnosing immaturity of the CNS or Neuro-Developmental Delay (NDD) and following a ‘Stimulation and Inhibition Movement Programme may mean the difference between winning and losing; coming first instead of the usual third, knocking off those few tenths of a second, performing that shot with ease of fluency and being cool when the ‘heat is on!’ – being able to process all relevant perceptual information without overloading the thinking part of the brain, (cortex), and so it can function efficiently in an anxiety / stressful atmosphere.
Research indicates that approximately 75% of the children (and so adults) with learning difficulties have an immature primitive reflex as a contributing factor (Bender 1971). Not all academic problems result from immature reflexes, but many academic problems are compounded by reflexive interference.
There is also the area of release of power during movement. A well known neuro-surgeon Dr. Temple Fay quoted, “Individuals still under the influence of early reflexes do not lack power, they lack control and proper release of power. The greater the primitive power, the less skill (and control) of power” (Fay 1958)
If these reflexes are affecting a player’s release and control of power, they will be influencing his speed and change of speed. I believe energy will be misdirected and wasted, therefore reducing speed, power and quality of performance, resulting in postural reflexes working harder to maintain stability and correct movement patterns (compensation).
A player therefore may not be utilising his full potential as regards to fluency, speed and power. He / she will presume that their performance is the best they can do. They will have no experience of anything different in performance, assuming to be normal because they have never known anything else.
Assessing for an aberrant primitive reflex which if present can interfere with balance, co-ordination and a mis-match of information sent to the brain through the proprioceptive, balance and visual systems.
During movement, difficulty will be found in crossing the midline from one side of the body to the other. This has to be overcome through ‘compensation’ in movement as the child is growing up. (The child doesn’t know anything different. This is normal to him.)
This reflex, if present, needs to be ‘inhibited’ so it doesn’t interfere with the delicate smooth flowing movement of a crucial putt, snooker shot, or any action where the hands together, or leg have to cross the midline of the body.
Any slight movement of the head to one side will initiate the reflex and so interfere with the natural movements needed to fulfil the skill required. ‘Compensation’ has learned how to try and overcome this aberrant movement.
If the reflex is present (it should have been inhibited naturally by six months of life), it becomes an invisible barrier to crossing the vertical midline. The entire body will still want to execute tasks using one side of the body at a time, and so fluent interchange of bilateral movement will be impaired.
Eye movements can also be affected as the person will remain ‘stimulus bound’ at the midline. When a child is asked to follow an object as it is moved slowly in front of him on a horizontal line, there will be a slight hesitancy as the object is moved from one side of his nose to the other. This same hesitancy will also prevent fluency when later he tries to read.
The medical organisation INPP lists the symptoms of NDD to include many of the following:
Our accredited range of client-centred treatments and therapeutic programmes at Sports Kinesis are all drug free and non-invasive.
If you would like to find out if we may be able to help and improve your elite performance and reach your potential by testing for any neuromotor immaturity or dysfunction (NDD).you have a preference to complete our questionnaire ( to give us some history if known, the details of which are kept private); send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 2451502 to book an appointment.