myofascial massage Integrative Bodywork in St. Pete

Neuromuscular Therapy vs. Myofascial Release

We get this question often: How is Neuromuscular Therapy different from Myofascial Release… and what is manual therapy and trigger point therapy? 

No doubt, you have seen plenty of modalities floating around. Techniques are tweaked, renamed, and rebranded to make them marketable, but massage therapy dates back over 5000 years. What you are seeing in today’s massage therapy techniques are new names for age old therapies. 

No one is reinventing the wheel over here. 

So, what is the difference between a couple of the most popular techniques, and which should you choose?   

The short answer? You should not have to. A skilled and certified massage therapist will combine multiple therapies depending on what is right for you and your needs.

Many therapists claim to specialize in ONE modality, but the more experienced ones know that you cannot treat every client with the same treatment day in and day out. 

It takes equal parts assessment, technique, intuition, and knowing where your scope of practice ends and when to refer to other trusted professionals.

First, here is a little background to better understand how massage therapy helps relieve pain… the quick version. 

Our nerves innervate through our muscles and can become entrapped in the muscle fibers (or compressed in the joints) signaling pain. Every muscle fiber is wrapped in cling wrap-like connective (myofascial) tissue and when that tissue is dehydrated, congested, or forced into repetitive patterns, it can adhere or “cling” to surrounding areas. These adhesions can also entrap nerves and pull the whole system out of balance. 

Our muscles are like any other organ in the body needing nutrients, oxygen and the ability to release waste. Since our muscles receive and release these materials through the blood and lymphatic systems, they can become congested with excess waste products if that circulation is restricted by those adhesions. 

Enter, Massage Therapy. 

Myofascial Release 

Long game, longer results.

“Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 trillion cells – neurons, muscle cells, epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all together in their proper placement.”

These are deep tissue approaches for releasing and unwinding myofascial adhesions and allowing for a deeper and more effective bodywork. This therapy often includes the use of cupping and instrument assisted therapies which produces the effects of much deeper work quicker and with less discomfort.

A therapist who understands the interconnectedness of the myofascial system can help increase your range of motion and mobility WHILE addressing the patterns causing restrictions. Restoring and maintaining the balance of fascial tension creates an environment for healing and prevention of future injuries. Corrective exercise is an equally important component of this work. 

We suggest working with a personal trainer or physical therapist to re-create healthy movement patterns and restore posture. 

Neuromuscular Therapy, NMT

AKA trigger point therapy, neuromuscular re-education, or “Jam your thumb into this knot until it releases…temporarily.” 

A trigger point is an area of little to no oxygen (ischemic) because of adhesions due to scar tissue or congested/inflamed tissue. Pressing on these areas generally causes radiating pain and the concept of NMT is to apply direct pressure to break through the adhesion and release entrapped nerves. 

The concept of re-educating happens when you have this type of treatment so regularly that your body starts to build new patterns without pain. 

This is one of the most popular requests because this type of work gives you that instant pain > endorphins > sense of relief.  

If this is the only modality you receive, AND you are not treating multiple times per week, you are likely spinning your wheels by allowing your body to fall back into its old patterns as soon as the pain relief (endorphins) wear off. 

How many times has the pain relief from a massage only lasted a day?

Neuromuscular therapy performed in conjunction with Myofascial release will actually flush out the area, increase circulation, and help prevent more congestion after you break up the “trigger point.” 

Our therapists at Solely Therapeutic Massage combine these techniques along with other modalities to assure our clients are getting the most effective treatments we can offer. We also listen and promptly refer to the right professional if your case requires more than soft tissue work. 

Massage therapy is only one piece of the pain relief puzzle. Learn more about neuromuscular massage therapy.

See our Partners in health page for recommendations of trusted local doctors, personal trainers and more.

In St. Petersburg, FL? Schedule a consultation with one of our massage therapists by calling 727-279-5205