What Is Neuromuscular Therapy and How It Helps

You’ve probably heard of neuromuscular therapy before, especially if you suffer from chronic muscle pain or stress. There is a lot of information available out there on this topic, which makes it easy to get confused. To help, we have outlined the most important points of information related to neuromuscular therapy in one post.

We have also added frequently asked questions related to the subject so that you can easily understand the process, what goes behind it, and the various techniques.

Let’s start with the definition of neuromuscular therapy (NMT).

What is Neuromuscular Therapy?

Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) is a relaxing, body massage therapy technique that aims to treat and heal the soft tissues of the body. It is mostly done to manage any underlying causes of chronic pain involving the muscular and nervous systems, but in other cases, to relieve unnecessary strain from the muscles.

Unlike other forms of massages, neuromuscular therapy is usually a medically supervised and relatively therapeutic massage technique. It targets tender muscle points, nerve compression, circulation, and postural issues. It can also help with biomechanical problems that may have been caused by repetitive movement injury.

The neuromuscular therapy technique follows a step-by-step procedure of massage, which is done after a thorough examination and analysis of the body’s soft tissues. The areas that need the most attention are the ones that are prioritized.

What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger Point Therapy is simply another term for Neuromuscular Therapy. It is called as such because it focuses on placing pressure on specific “myofascial” points in the body to get rid of stress.

In other words, NMT can precisely pinpoint the areas of the body that are causing strain. These points are often called “trigger points”. By targeting these, neuromuscular therapists aim to fix the problem at the source.

Does Neuromuscular Therapy Work?

Neuromuscular therapy is a combination of empirically tested, professional massage techniques. This means that the procedure is guided by clinical evidence. In other words, it is known to considerably relieve muscle stress and help patients in most cases. It can also make the recovery process of patients suffering from other medical issues a lot easier.

In addition, NMT can integrate well into any practice setting. It is frequently included in mainstream medicine, integrative medicine, chiropractic care, and multidisciplinary clinics worldwide.

Research has also shown that neuromuscular therapy can improve symptoms from disorders like carpal tunnel, sciatica, and even serious diseases like Parkinson’s. However, even if you do not have any such issues, it is known to be one of the most effective solutions to physical tension, releasing stress, or improving athletic performance.

When Is Neuromuscular Therapy Used?

Neuromuscular therapy can be used to relieve muscle strain caused by any sort of issue. For starters, it is a very effective solution for chronic muscle stress. But it is also helpful in case of recovery from a sports injury, an accident, or just bad posture. We will discuss the specific issues that NMT can be used for down below.

In addition, neuromuscular therapists also consider perpetuating factors that may be associated with patients’ muscle stress. For example, when a client presents with shoulder pain, the upper extremity protocol will be used as the primary examination. In addition to the muscles directly crossing the shoulder joint, muscles that attach the shoulder girdle to the torso would be included along with steps to help ensure mobility of the scapula.

Where (In the Body) Is Neuromuscular Therapy Used?

There are a few common pain areas of patients where neuromuscular therapy is usually needed the most:

• ischemia (tight tissue with reduced blood flow)
• myofascial trigger points (hypersensitive points of muscles that induce chronic pain)
• neural entrapment (pressure on nerves by muscles and other soft tissues)
• nerve compression (pressure on nerves by osseous and other bonelike tissues, such as cartilage or discs)
• postural assessment (posture and position of the body as a whole)
• dysfunctional gait patterns (manner of movement when walking)
• other factors that may make the issue worse, such as hydration, nutrition, breathing patterns, or psychologic stress.

What Issues Is Neuromuscular Therapy Used For?

Other issues that may raise a need for neuromuscular therapy can include shoulder joint pathologies, postural positioning, habits of use, nutritional components, emotional wellbeing, allergies, or neurotoxins. There can also be other physical problems that can surface as myofascial pain or dysfunction.

Due to the diverse nature of perpetuating factors, NMT therapists usually have a broad network of healthcare providers for analysis of clients who may have more than one underlying condition.

What Does Neuromuscular Therapy Look Like?

After determining the factors that are causing pain, NMT therapists can apply the science of neuromuscular therapy to target your trigger points. Whether that means paying attention to joints to alleviate nerve compression or helping to increase blood flow to specific parts of the body to reduce ischemia, an NMT therapist is equipped with proven techniques to fix problems.

Although anyone suffering from muscle pain can benefit from neuromuscular therapy, it is especially helpful for relieving soft tissue pain commonly associated with lower back pain, upper back pain, hip pain, headaches, knee pain, jaw pain, and more.

How Does Neuromuscular Therapy Work?

Neuromuscular Massage Therapy can significantly reduce muscle pain.

The muscles for which you require NMT and that are under strain are likely to hurt when touched. This kind of pain is usually caused by ischemic muscle tissue. Ischemia means the muscle is lacking proper blood flow, usually due to muscle spasms.

As a result of this, the following happens:

As the muscle does not receive ample blood, it also means that it is not receiving ample oxygen.
Due to the lack of oxygen, the muscle can begin to produce lactic acid.
In turn, the lactic acid can cause the muscle to feel sore, especially during or after any kind of physical activity.

Through neuromuscular massage therapy, the lactic acid will be released from the muscle and it will begin to receive enough blood and oxygen again. This will further lead to relaxation and relief from the pain.

What Causes Chronic Muscle Pain?

The main factors that cause pain or dysfunction of muscles can be classified into three general groups: biomechanical, biochemical, and psychosocial factors. In a lot of cases, these can be related to each other.

While neuromuscular therapy practitioners usually apply strategies from only one of these categories, it is important to take all three into consideration. Focusing on only one area does lead to significant relief from pain in that area. However, to achieve a synergistic effect, all three categories must be addressed. This may require a multidisciplinary approach.

When all factors are taken into consideration, neuromuscular therapists can use a more precise and perceptive combination of massage techniques. And this often leads to an increased overall improvement of the patient.

Is Neuromuscular Therapy Effective for Chronic Pain?

Evidence suggests that neuromuscular therapy is highly effective for patients who suffer from chronic pain. It is most successful in reducing or even eliminating chronic pain conditions that cause a regular strain for patients.

Can Neuromuscular Therapy Aid Recovery from Injuries?

Some neuromuscular therapy techniques can also be applied in cases of acute or serious injury or for post-surgical care. This may especially help people in sports or dance, who had to stop participating due to their injury. Neuromuscular therapy can help them properly recover and enable them to resume their activities.

How Effective Is Neuromuscular Therapy?

Neuromuscular therapy sessions have been scientifically proven to reduce chronic muscle pain. The therapy techniques can also help alleviate symptoms of long-term ailments, such as back pain, migraines, or cramps. This means that NMT is one of the most effective types of massage therapies.

That aside, as neuromuscular therapy is a form of massage, it also offers relaxation benefits and can relieve stress. It is good for your overall physical health since any sort of strain on muscles can make other issues worse.

What Are Alternatives to Neuromuscular Therapy?

Any form of stress or pain to body muscles can become unbearable in daily life situations. This is especially true if it starts getting in the way of your daily activities, such as sleeping, exercising, etc. Therefore, it is important to take care of any chronic muscle pain by finding the right solution for you.

Good alternatives to neuromuscular therapy could include doing yoga, applying medicinal creams for sore muscles or anti-inflammatory ointments, or just to get a regular massage at home. However, for longstanding relief of chronic muscle pain, neuromuscular therapy is the most effective.

How Is Neuromuscular Therapy Different from Massage?

What Are Neuromuscular Therapy Techniques?

Neuromuscular Therapy works through the manual application of specialized (usually) digital pressure and strokes, mostly carried out via way of means of finger or thumb contact. These virtual contacts will have both a diagnostic (assessment) or healing goal. Moreover, the extent of pressure applied will also vary accordingly to the needs of the patient.

Physiotherapist massaging female patient with an injured shoulder blade. Sports injury treatment.

NMT therapeutic techniques can consist of managing muscle energy, hold–relax and contract-relax proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), and post isometric rest. Muscle relaxation and passive stretching are part of a lot of these strategies.

Passive stretching can be relatively more helpful than the passive range of motion technique (PROM). This is because instead of stopping at the first barrier to further movement, passive stretching – or overstretching – aims to apply additional pressure slowly and consistently to elongate the tissues.

Do You Need Neuromuscular Therapy?

Before a neuromuscular therapy massage, a therapist will assess the body and identify the origin of the pain. This is done by addressing five main factors:

• ischemia, or a lack of blood supply to soft tissues, which can cause them to tighten
• possible trigger points (sensitive areas of the muscles that may be causing pain)
• nerve compression or entrapment (pressure on the nerves caused by tissues around them)
• any postural issues (overall posture of the body)
• biomechanical dysfunction

Once all these aspects have been examined, the neuromuscular therapist will develop a plan that suits your needs and apply massage techniques likely to help you the most.

What Can You Expect After Neuromuscular Therapy?

After neuromuscular massage therapy, any soreness should disappear within about 24 – 36 hours. The muscles that were targeted via the therapy should remain significantly more relaxed for about 4 – 14 days, depending on the stress.

In conclusion, Neuromuscular Therapy is a considerably great solution for muscle tension, chronic muscle stress, or any form of prior injury. The massage techniques used in this method are designed to provide you with the utmost relaxation and relief from pain or stress.

If you’re looking for neuromuscular therapy clinics or practitioners near you, you can contact us to book an appointment.

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