Neuromuscular Therapy is a type of soft tissue (muscle, tendon, connective tissue) massage technique that involves static pressure on specific points of irritation called
Trigger Points (TPs.).
Trigger points are areas of hyper-irritability within the tissues that refer pain out to areas that often seem unrelated. This is why a good Neuromuscular Therapist will work in areas that at first seem to have nothing to do with where you are hurting. For example a TP. can refer pain from the hip all the way down to the calf. And no matter how much you work the calf the pain will not go away until the related TP. in the hip is addressed. Strange, but true.
Neuromuscular Therapy uses a variety of massage strokes to palpate areas and locate the TPs. Once found static pressure is used on the point for 8 to 20 seconds with a level of pressure that elicits a degree of discomfort. This discomfort should range about 6 on a pain scale of 1-10 (where 1 is no pain and 10 is extreme). In other words the discomfort will be fairly intense but should not be such that would cause a bruise.
Even though treating TP.s can be uncomfortable realize that the therapist is not injuring you but is actually showing where you already are holding pain. These areas are like a bad splinter. You know it will hurt to pull it out, but you also know that it has to come out for the area to heal. A good therapist will assist you during the process by having you take slow gentle breaths and by approaching such areas with gentleness and compassion.
If you are receiving this work from a therapist and they go over your level of tolerance ask them to lighten up. If they don't,
stop the session.
It is essential that you be in charge when working with any therapist. Let your good sense guide you when it comes to the safety of your body.
The value of good NMT work is that it relieves pain (at least temporarily). Once the Trps. have be "deactivated" several things occur. First there is a return of normal circulation, which flushes out any toxins, and more importantly much needed oxygen is supplied to the area. Another thing that occurs is the temporary increase in pain actually triggers the brain to open the medicine cabinet. As a result there is a release of pain killing opiates, some of which are many times stronger than man-made narcotics. One of these, known as endorphin, gives you a sense of well being, similar to runners high. Other natural opiates, such as enkephin, actually stop the pain signal from reaching the brain. Overall, the result is that the
cycle has been broken and there is a period where you can let your guard down.
Several things will assist with the success of NMT. First is to drink plenty of water to help flush you body on any toxins that have been released during the session. There is really not enough that can be said about regularly staying hydrated. We are composed of some 90 percent water and replenishing this fundamental element is essential to health.Secondly is the use of ice on the treated area. Any time there is any inflammation ice is the best first line of defense. On the proper use of ice, water, and heat follow this
For information about training in Neuromuscular Therapy check the following website:
Red Mountain Institute
Finished with Neuromuscular Therapy, return to Massage Therapy