Hands On Healing, located in Montgomery, Alabama, offers Neuromuscular Therapy massage sessions.
What Does “Neuromuscular” Mean?
The prefix “neuro” comes from “neuron,” an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘cord’ or ‘sinew.’
Praxagoras, a Greek philosopher, adopted the word to describe minuscule arteries in the body after postulating “neurons” existed and were responsible for transmitting signals through the human body. 1
What is Neuromuscular Massage?
Neuromuscular massage refers to a massage dealing with the “neuro,” or the neurological system, and the muscles, or the muscular system.
Neuromuscular massage is also known as Neuromuscular Therapy or NMT 2.
NMT is a specialized form of soft tissue manual therapy provided by Hands On Healing.
Our therapists perform this type of massage because of their training and familiarity with the neurological system and its effects on the musculoskeletal system.
Neuromuscular Therapy utilizes an analytical, inquisitive approach during a massage session to help determine the source of a client’s pain or discomfort.
The source of pain is identified using a “press and hold” technique on Myofascial Trigger Points, areas located within the muscle.
According to WebMD: 3
“Neuromuscular therapy is a form of soft tissue manipulation that aims to treat underlying causes of chronic pain involving the muscular and nervous systems. This medically-oriented form of massage addresses trigger points (tender muscles points), circulation, nerve compression, postural issues, and biomechanical problems that can be caused by repetitive movement injuries.”
What are “Trigger Points?”
Trigger points are areas of the body that you cannot see, but they’re irritable and sensitive to the touch.
Trigger points develop in muscle tissue for many reasons, including:
- Poor blood circulation
- Physical trauma
- Bad posture
Poor circulation restricts the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscle. A deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and iron can lead to a buildup of lactic acid and cause muscles to feel tight and sore.
Injuries to cartilage, bone, muscle, and fascia impinge nerves and interfere with their ability to transmit signals to the brain correctly.
Those suffering from anxiety or depression often become guarded and feel vulnerable, and their body language reflects this. Poor or distorted posture over time can lead to muscle tension and discomfort, requiring a thorough Postural Analysis.
No matter what the reason, when trigger points are activated your muscles and nerves suffer.
What makes a trigger point challenging to diagnose and locate is its ability to “trigger” pain in other areas of the body that are seemingly unrelated.
This transference of pain is also called “referral pain.”
What is Referral Pain?
Referral pain is a phenomenon in which areas located far from the source experience sensations of pain, tingling, or numbness.
For example, the trapezius is one of the major muscles of the back and is responsible for moving, rotating, and stabilizing the scapula (shoulder blade) and extending the head at the neck. 4
The trapezius muscle has a trigger point near the top of your shoulder.
When activated, the path of pain, also called the “pain pathway,” travels up through the back of the ear, through the head, and down through the corner of the eye.
What’s the Difference Between Traditional Massage & NMT?
The differences between the two have to do with the intention and design of the session itself.
For “traditional” massage, sessions are often oriented around promoting a state of relaxation.
Traditional massage therapy “quiets” the nervous system, often repeating similar strokes that lead to a calm meditative state.
By contrast, NMT focuses on the investigative and problem-solving aspects of soft tissue therapy.
How Does NMT Work?
Clients often approach us with a specific problem.
For instance, they’ll report difficulty turning their neck to the left while being capable of fully rotating it to the right.
Our primary goal as Neuromuscular Therapists is to determine which muscles are involved or contributing to your condition.
Additionally, NMT sessions must be conducted in a manner that is relaxing as well as efficient and effective.
This requires an extensive knowledge of anatomical knowledge and excellent palpation skills.
What is Palpation?
Palpation is the use of touch to identify the various soft tissue structures of the body and their condition.
Touching is used to assess somatic responses, or physical movement of voluntary muscles, of the body and for making treatment decisions.
The skills demanded of an NMT practitioner are considerably higher than those of a traditional massage provider.
What to Expect During an NMT Session
Clients receiving traditional massage are typically quiet and free to allow their minds to wander or rest.
With neuromuscular therapy, the therapist may ask you a series of questions, like:
- “When I do this, what do you experience?”
- “Which is more tender, this or that?”
- “Does this spot feel relevant to you?”
- “I detect something here, do you feel it, too?”
All these questions and comparisons are part of the NMT problem-solving process and essential to its success.
This requires clients to be more alert and responsive. Without a client’s active participation, addressing a specific problem through NMT is a problematic endeavor.
Can NMT be Combined with Other Therapies?
Combining the two helps clarify problem areas and improves the overall effectiveness of the primary therapy being provided.
Your treatment might consist of 20% NMT techniques and 80% traditional.
For more information or to request an appointment, contact Hands On Healing in Montgomery, Alabama.
Our NMT Practitioners
Anthony graduated massage school just after Y2K and opened Hands On Healing in 2003. Upon requests from clients to help them find relief and discover a better place, he started his journey into the world of pain management.
Jacob attended the Utah School of Massage Therapy, considered one of the best massage schools in the country. He graduated as valedictorian of his class and specializes in Postural Analysis and Structural Bodywork.
Carla felt a deep desire to be part of a team with a goal-oriented approach for the improvement and restoration of one’s overall active health, leading her to join our advanced bodywork program at Hands On Healing.
Carolee graduated from the Therapeutic Massage program at Trenholm State Technical College. She is licensed by the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy and holds certifications in Swedish and Deep Tissue massage.
- Source: Journal of Neurology and Neuroscience, “The Ancient Greek Discovery of the Nervous System: Alcmaeon, Praxagoras and Herophilus,” Link to website »
- Source: Wikipedia, “Neuromuscular therapy,” Link to website »
- Source: WebMD, “Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits,” Link to website »
- Source: InnerBody, “Trapezius Muscle,” Link to website »