In the past 60 years, Neuromuscular massage Therapy (NMT) has developed into a recognized and effective method that can be used to diagnose, treat, and prevent various types of injuries and chronic pain. The NMT is now very popular among the trained therapists, who are able to support the patients and help them heal by proven NMT techniques, which is in fact result of a comprehensive understanding of the biomechanics and the physical structure of the body.
Neuromuscular therapy, Much more than just a special form of massage
The NMT includes the manual application of specific pressure and sliding techniques for the diagnosis and therapy of soft tissue dysfunctions. With this method, relaxation of the affected tissue and pain relief can be expected. Today, NMT is not only used in the field of massage therapy, but also in pain therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing, dentistry, chiropractic, osteopathy, and other medical specialties.
Neuromuscular Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage
It is important to differentiate between NMT and deep tissue massage. The deep tissue massage relieves chronic tension pains in the body either through slow stroking movements over the tense regions of the body or through deep pressure with these fingers on these areas. Here you work either along or against the direction of the muscles, tendons, and fascia. It is also called deep massage because it concentrates primarily on the deep layers of the muscle tissue.
Benefits of Neuromuscular Massage
- Rebalance nervous and musculoskeletal system, while normal functions necessary for
good health is maintained
- Increase resistance from the body
- Relieve muscle and joint pain; whether chronic or deep
- Provide a sense of relaxation: massage cause positive repercussions on the morale of
patients, once the pain subsides
- Reduction of stress
- Higher levels of flexibility and strength
- Increased ease and efficiency of movement
- Better posture
- Improved blood circulation
- Lower levels of body toxins
- Higher levels of energy and vitality
What does treatment look like
MNT encompasses a range of treatment methods based on the skills and anatomical knowledge of the therapist as well as his precise palpation (the examination of the body by touching). The treatment concept differs from normal relaxation massages in that not only the muscles, ligaments and soft tissues of the body, but also the nervous system is put into consideration (the term “neuromuscular” means “referring to or influencing nerves and muscles”). Since the NMT can create a balance between the central nervous system (CNS) and the musculoskeletal system, it is well suited as a manual therapy for people with pain. For example, NMT is used for chronic pain, back pain, the tension in various trigger points in the muscles, nerve pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ dysfunction, fibromyalgia, migraines, to improve mobility and to correct movement patterns.
According to the Neuromuscular Center, NMT’s goal is to relieve both chronic and acute pain by treating the five main causes of pain:
● Ischemia (anemia): insufficient blood flow in the soft tissue, which triggers hypersensitivity when touched.
● Trigger points: highly irritated points in the muscles that transmit pain to other parts of the body.
● Compression of the nerves: Pressure on a nerve through tissue, cartilage, or bone.
● Postural weaknesses: Imbalance of the muscular system as a result of incorrect movement patterns, i.e. the body does not move according to its natural vertical and horizontal levels. Long-term poor posture habits are the most common cause of the pain developed by this element.
● Biomechanical dysfunction: Imbalance of the muscle and skeletal system, which results in incorrect movement patterns (e.g. incorrect lifting of heavy loads, typing on the computer, poor movement sequence when golfing or playing tennis)
Ischemia treats NMT through manual therapy that stimulates blood flow. If the blood flow is so low that hypersensitivity occurs when touched, it is possible that in-depth treatment with pressure cannot be used. In this case, NMT techniques offer the therapist alternative ways to relieve pain without additional discomfort. For example, the patient’s sensitivity can be reduced by approaching the painful tissue. The skin is pushed towards the sensitive area while it is being processed. This allows the therapist not only to exert greater pressure also to treat this area for a longer period of time, which results in greater relaxation and positive change without increasing the pain for the patient.
Trigger points are treated in the NMT by finding the severely irritating points that trigger local pain as well as other parts of the body and relieving them of the pain. This form of therapy is called trigger point therapy. The pressure is applied to the irritated area and held until the intensity of the pain subsides. This form of treatment works through several layers. The aim is to keep the patient’s level of pain as low as possible. An extremely irritating point is often so tense that it is numb. With the help of a continuous treatment through the tense layers, he “jumps up” and suddenly reacts sensitively to touch. If the pressure is applied and at the right time, the deep layers of a trigger point can be loosened, therefore, the transmission of pain to other parts of the body can be reduced or even stopped. In Nerve compression, the first thing to do is to find the exact spot from which the pain originates. In addition, the mobility of the joints throughout the body is examined, which in turn can provide information about whether a normal functional activity is restricted, what the cause of this limitation is based on, whether the functional activity can be increased again and which muscles must be used to relax and increase mobility.
A technique that is only available in NMT is stretching against resistance, which is called muscle energy technology and which results in an increase in mobility. Here, the focus is on the neurons in the tendons of the muscles, also the muscles are “reminded” that they can be stretched out without causing damage or a lack of stability to the body. Through extensive training and regular examination of the compression syndromes, NMT therapists can release the nerves affected by the compression. He can also show the patient how to do this by correct Stretching exercises and permanently maintain a healthy execution of joint movements. If necessary, he also helps the patient to find out whether further treatment with another therapist is necessary.
Poor posture and biomechanical dysfunction are treated in the context of neuromuscular therapy primarily by educating those affected. Many people get used to the way they move in everyday life and are not aware of how they sit, stand, or walk. Improper posture can be the cause, and in this case, comprehensive information can already be very helpful. Only if we learn to understand our body, its biomechanics, and physical structure. an NMT therapist can explain to us what a healthy body needs and how an imbalance, dysfunction, and malposition can strain the body and cause a whole range of problems.
If you have to decide which type of therapy is best for you and your ideas, a clear understanding of the difference between massage therapy and neuromuscular massage can be very helpful. Neuromuscular massage therapists are not only characterized by a comprehensive understanding of the body, its systems, and their sensitive interplay. also have a basic knowledge of neuromuscular massage techniques and their practical application. The basic idea of neuromuscular massage is not only to reduce and eliminate the pain but also to restore and maintain bodily functions and to educate the patient about how to make further progress at home. Involving the patient in his own healing is a fundamental element of neuromuscular massage therapy. A greater sense of wellbeing can be achieved through a deeper understanding of the body.