Neuromuscular massage therapy is a type of deep massage in which pressure and friction are used to release areas of strained or hypertonic muscle tissue. Neuromuscular therapy is also part of a broad spectrum of hands-on healing methods used by osteopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists.
Trigger points are the “knots” we may feel in our muscles – areas of hypersensitivity in muscular tissue. These are areas of the muscle that are ischemic or lacking blood and nutrients due to its state of contracture. Where there is no circulation in the soft tissue, the muscle cannot relax and causes weakness, fatigue, pain and referred pain. Referred pain is a phenomenon in which different areas of the body suffer from sensations of pain or numbness far from the trigger point origin.
The focus of many massage modalities is the relaxation response of the autonomic nervous system for the primary purpose of stress management. Neuromuscular massage therapy, on the other hand, incorporates the clinical applications of soft tissue manipulation with the goal of restoring homeostasis (balance) between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system.
The normalization or balance of this relationship is accomplished by removing the physiological restrictions of ischemia, trigger points, and nerve compression and by recognizing and addressing the residual tension patters present in any postural distortion. Stretches and self-care are applied where appropriate.
Some massage techniques used in this process are stroking or flushing the tissue, kneading, cross fiber friction, skin rolling and lifting, tapotement, and direct compression using fingers, hand, thumb, elbow, or soft tipped pressure bar. The effect of the therapy is to reduce nervous activity within the tissue, force out accumulated toxins and increase circulation thereby allowing the muscle to relax and resume balance.
The intention is to work with sensitivity and respect for the patient and to be attuned to feedback regarding intensity of pressure, referral patterns and release hypertonicity.
Some of the symptoms of soft tissue problems include low back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, and TMJ disorders. These symptoms and many others typically respond well to neuromuscular massage therapy.
At Center for Massage Therapy, our skilled therapists combine the specific techniques of NMT with other massage modalities to provide our clients with the best possible care we can give them.