What is Neuromuscular Massage Therapy (neuromuscular therapy)?

neuromuscular massage therapy St Pete FL

What is neuromuscular massage therapy (neuromuscular therapy)? 

Let’s start with a little science…

Have you ever experienced a muscle spasm or cramp?

There’s almost no escape. You will be begging for salvation and while you wait for it to run its course. Or perhaps it’s just a subtle but constant nagging tension.

Where are YOUR shoulders right now? Can you drop them? Could your shoulders be less rounded forward? These are common muscle patterns built around this modern high-tech life.

But what happens over time?

Improper movement patterns (or more commonly, non-movement) can eventually lead beyond nagging tension and into arthritis and chronic pain.

Don’t worry. We are here to help PREVENT it from going that far. Our mission is to help you break those patterns and re-educate your muscles to function properly AND stay balanced for a lifetime pain free living. We do this by creating the terrain for healing and having a toolbox of skills ready for our clients. We know the body is capable of healing, repairing, rebuilding, and re-learning to move with optimal mobility and comfort. We also know sometimes you need a little help.

Your massage therapist team at Solely are dedicated to their education and continuous training in multiple techniques which we use during our massage therapy sessions. One of the most classic techniques we incorporate is called neuromuscular therapy or neuromuscular massage therapy. This is a deep tissue technique that focuses on releasing myofascial trigger points as part of our treatment.

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Neuromuscular therapy – So what is a trigger point? 

Trigger points occur in the body where oxygenated blood and nutrients are unable to reach the muscle tissue, and the muscle tissue is unable to diffuse out the waste products continuously being produced creating an acidic condition of the tissues. When tissue metabolism is decreased and acidity increased, our bodies release calcium into the muscles to help neutralize the acids. The body will then encapsulate these acids in this congested tissue and prevent filtration rather than letting acids into the bloodstream. This tissue is considered ischemic. Pain and spasm (contraction) occurs in ischemic muscle tissue from a lack of proper blood and nutrient, and mineral circulation and a trigger point is a symptom of this sustained contraction.

How do muscles become ischemic? 

All of our soft tissue is woven with connective tissue. This is how it keeps its shape (or loses shape, halloos cellulite) This system is called your myofascial system. This cling wrapping inter-connects our tissues as it wraps around every muscle fiber, every organ, and connects us through this webbed system that communicates on a cellular level. Based on this and how scar tissue develops and builds, an injury to one area can change the tone, length, and balance everywhere.

When there is an injury or overuse/ repetitive stress to the muscles, metabolic waste products are produced and begin to build. When metabolic waste and excess calcium are being produced, the tissues then become dehydrated and the fibers can bind together creating a “knot”. These congested tissues prevent the diffusion and filtration of oxygenated blood and nutrients in- and metabolized waste products out.

So why do trigger points hurt to the touch? 

Eventually this sticky tissue can create compression on the nerves that innervate throughout the musculoskeletal system. If there were an injury, scar tissue could create the same effect. Scar tissue and adhesions limit and alter range of motion, mobility and function throughout the musculoskeletal system.

How can untreated trigger points and tension lead to poor posture? 

Since our bodies are masters of compensating, we can change our movement patterns to accommodate for imbalances and injuries further perpetuating this cycle and creating poor posture. Left untreated, these musculoskeletal dysfunction and imbalances can set clients up for the risk of injuries, arthritis, and chronic pain in the future. Sports injuries generally happen because elasticity was not restored before an exercise

What conditions does neuromuscular therapy treat? 

Soft tissue injuries

After an injury, calcium rich scar tissue is laid down at the tendonous attachments. While we recover from the injury, scar tissue creates a vulnerability on either side because of the hardening of the tissue. Releasing adhesions caused by scar tissue whether it’s from everyday micro-tears from workouts, or major surgeries. Microtears become fibrous decreasing elasticity and making the joint more prone to future tears and injuries. Soft tissue work with NMT can help increase mobility and function.

Chronic pain from postural imbalances, arthritis, stress, and repetitive use.

Nerve entrapments – Nerves -or the nerve root- can become entrapped in muscle tension and subcutaneous adhesions causing radiating nerve pain down the extremities, also referred to as radiculopathy. Generally, clients with nerve entrapments will move towards the pain for relief. These common conditions are examples of nerve pain and treatable with neuromuscular therapy.

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Overuse/ misuse
  • Adhesive capsulitis/ frozen shoulder
  • Tendonitis
  • Structural deviations
  • Sciatica (if compression is in the soft tissue- periformis syndrome)
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Knee injuries
  • Sprain/ strain (whiplash)
  • Post surgical conditions
  • Epicondylitis

Stress and improvement of overall health – One of the body’s responses to stress and tension and pain is the release of cortisol. Receiving bodywork helps calm the nervous system and regulate the adrenal system improving overall function. Therapy for pain relief improves the client’s quality of life

What is the difference between (our) neuromuscular massage therapy and deep tissue massage? 

This form of massage involves an assessment and consultation and health intake prior to the session treating the myofascial trigger points. Neuromuscular therapy and deep tissue massage focuses on first finding the imbalances in the client’s posture, learning the root cause of the dysfunction, restoring the resting length of the muscles and creating a treatment plan with the client.

Other techniques like myofascial cupping, stretching, scraping IASTM will be used to warm the tissue prior and increase circulation and make the treatment more comfortable. A caring massage therapist will do this before digging in.

What are the different techniques used in neuromuscular therapy? 

Most schools of NMT- Neuromuscular Massage Therapy- teach to apply direct pressure to the trigger point itself, but we work a little differently. While plenty of clients LOVE the pain of someone’s thumb digging in, but do you know why? Endorphins.

Our bodies protect us from pain by producing endorphins- natural pain killers with a euphoric effect. Have you ever had a deep tissue massage where the benefits only lasted a few days? The problem with this method is while the client floats out of the office on a cloud (and we ice our poor thumbs) this method has done little to actually release adhesions, create a terrain for healing with space for improved circulation, OR address the surrounding tissues affected by this trigger point.

While this method has its place in neuromuscular re-education and structural work, it needs to be coupled with frequent sessions and corrective exercise to effectively re-educate those new muscle patterns. A strictly trigger point massage session will have short term effects.

A highly specialized neuromuscular massage therapist will possess the ability to recognize these patterns and educate their clients and how to change and correct them. Our S.E.T therapists are our most specialized and therapists when it comes to assessment and treatment of postural and structural imbalance.

What is deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is more generalized and considered a blanket term for a therapeutic manual therapy technique involving deeper pressure, compression, stripping, and with the intention of improving range of motion, mobility, blood circulation, posture and decreasing overall tension.

You may receive a deep tissue therapy “version” of sports massage therapy, Swedish massage therapy, Thai Massage therapy, Lomi Lomi, S.E.T, or any other therapy you choose. This is dependent on the therapist and the client. We take a comprehensive intake and allow time for assessment prior to beginning your session. All therapists have training in deep tissue massage therapy and their specialized techniques.

Is neuromuscular therapy or deep tissue therapy right for you?

Since deep tissue massage therapy and neuromuscular massage therapy may be part of any therapeutic session, it is extremely important to be honest and open on your client intake form about your health and identify any contraindications or medications your therapist may need to be aware of.

Some common contraindications include: