What Is Neuromuscular Therapy?
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a very specialized form of manual massage therapy. An NMT therapist is educated in the physiology of the nervous system and its effect on the muscular and skeletal systems. The Neuromuscular Therapist also is educated in kinesiology and biomechanics and the functioning of the human nervous system.
By definition, Neuromuscular Therapy is the utilization of static pressure on specific myofascial points to relieve pain. This technique manipulates the soft tissue of the body (muscles, tendons and connective tissue) to balance the central nervous system. In a healthy individual, nerves transmit impulses (which are responsible for every movement, function and thought) to the body very slowly. Injury, trauma, postural distortion or stress cause nerves to speed up their transmission, inhibiting equilibrium and making the body vulnerable to pain and dysfunction. Neuromuscular Therapy massage works to stabilize low levels of neurological activity to maintain normal function and overall health.
Neuromuscular Therapy will be used to address five elements that may be causing you pain:
Ischemia: Lack of blood supply to soft tissues which causes hypersensitivity to touch
Trigger Points: Highly irritated points in muscles which refer pain to other parts of the body
Nerve Compression or Entrapment: Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone
Postural Distortion: Imbalance of the muscular system resulting from the movement of the body off the longitudinal and horizontal planes
Biomechanical Dysfunction: Imbalance of the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns (i.e., poor lifting habits, bad mechanics in a golf swing of tennis stroke, computer keyboarding)
Neuromuscular therapy consists of alternating levels of concentrated pressure on the areas of muscle spasm. The massage therapy pressure is usually applied with the fingers, knuckles, or elbow. Once applied to a muscle spasm, the pressure should not vary for ten to thirty seconds.
Massage Therapy Can Reduce Muscle Pain
Muscles that are in spasm will be painful to the touch. The pain is caused by ischemic muscle tissue. Ischemia means the muscle is lacking proper blood flow, usually due to the muscle spasm. This in turn creates a situation where muscle is not receiving enough blood or enough oxygen. This lack of oxygen causes the muscle to produce lactic acid, making the muscle feel sore following physical activity. After the muscle is relaxed through massage therapy, the lactic acid will be released from the muscle, and the muscle should start receiving enough blood and oxygen.
Neuromuscular therapy may feel unfamiliar or even slightly painful at first, but the pressure of the massage should alleviate the muscle spasm. At this point, it is extremely important to communicate with the massage therapist regarding the pressure – whether the pressure is too much, too little, getting better, getting worse. The therapist will listen and respond accordingly.
NMT can be used for the following conditions, as well as many others: – low back pain and stiffness – neck pain and stiffness – headaches – repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and temporomandibular joint syndrome – athletic injuries – problems with numbness and tingling in the extremities (arms, legs, hands, or feet)
Of course the primary effect of NMT – and the desired one – is pain relief. But other effects include improved flexibility and range of motion, better posture, more balanced muscle tone and increased energy.
So if you have problems with chronic pain or other symptoms that might be coming from muscle spasm, but other forms of massage have not helped much, you might want to consider neuromuscular therapy. Its intensity can be worth it.