I have studied and used neuromuscular therapy since 2003. I received two hundred hours worth of training, then became a teacher’s assistant for two and a half years in order to become a better practitioner and eventually teach the techniques to others. So what is it? In short, modern NMT is the synthesis of eastern bodywork and western medicine. For over seventy years this technique has evolved and grown to become one of the most affective forms of medical bodywork used in Europe and America. To describe in detail what took its creators 800 pages worth of documented research to explain, and four years for me to trying to understand and implement into my practice, would take a very long time and probably not do it justice. So, I will try to give you the basics without going into great detail.
Essentially NMT focuses on our body systems and how they interact with each other; facial, muscle, neurological, and lymphatic. It examines the cause of dysfunction that brings our body out of homeostasis; like trigger points, postural dysfunction, nerve entrapment, nerve compression, ischemia, inflammation, and pain. Our body’s primary job it to keep us in a state of homeostasis. Marinating homeostasis means that the cells in our body are able to function in a way that supports us, though we tend to do everything possible to disrupt that balance. Because of this we create dysfunction in our body. Neuromuscular therapy uses techniques specifically designed for each individual muscle in our body to help bring that muscle back to a state of homeostasis.
NMT is designed to work the muscles with greater detail and care than most massages. It does this by designing a specific massage for each individual muscle so that it will be worked correctly. This allows my clients to get the maximum benefit from the work with no additional harm to the muscle. Using NMT I have cured several people of chronic neck, shoulder, hip, and back pain. I helped cure a woman suffering from fifteen years worth of chronic back pain whose doctor told her that she would have to live with it for the rest of her life. I helped cure another woman who was suffering from ten years worth of chronic hip problems and never sought out therapy because she thought it was something she would just have to live with. I also helped a sixty-three year old man have the legs and hips to dance again. NMT is absolutely amazing and the fact that I have contributed to one less person having to walk around with chronic pain was worth every second I spent learning these techniques.
Here is a grocery list of a few other things it is used for:
- nerve compression
- neck/shoulder pain
- sports injuries
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- extremity numbness
- poor circulation
- functional scoliosis
- and many more
(the ancient healing art of Thailand)
On November 14th, 2004, I traveled to Thailand to take a course in traditional Thai massage. The techniques were created over a period of two thousand years, influenced by the yoga practices of India, the healing methods in China, and the Buddhist Monks who refined it in the temples of Thailand. The name Thai massage can be misleading, as it is not actually “massage”; it is the ancient healing art of Thailand. It is used to relieve blockages along our bodies energy lines. The belief is that energy blockages are ultimately the cause of most dysfunction since, to function correctly, there must be a balance between our mind, our body, and our spirit. Imbalance in one area creates dysfunction in all areas.
During a Thai massage my clients are dressed in comfortable clothing and lying on a floor mat while I use my body weight for leverage and balance as I incorporate my feet, elbows, and thumbs to release tension along energy lines. I was taught most of the techniques in Thailand, but I have also incorporated some of my own techniques based on my knowledge of NMT. Most of my clients use it for preventative healing and to bring their body back into balance. I think it’s pretty cool and I love dong it. For more information check out: History if Thai Massage.
Unlike our circulatory system, which runs on a pump, our lymphatic system requires that we breathe steadily and move around for it to be activated. While inhalation and exhalation pumps lymph though the thoracic duct, most of the lymph flow though our body is created when we contract our muscles. Unfortunately, most of us sit all day long, getting up periodically to eat something, go to the bathroom, or sit somewhere else. This lack of movement inhibits our lymphatic system from being able to balance the fluid in our joints, muscles, and organs. It also affects our immune response to injury and illness do to its connection to the thymus gland and the spleen.
Many people who live inactive lives, or have weight problems (which is now over 60% of the people living in America), experience sluggishness, fatigue, and depression. For inactive people, this is most likely caused by drainage problems. Without proper drainage our muscle tissue becomes engorged with fluid and can eventually become extremely painful to touch. This occurs mostly in people who have had surgery where the lymphatic ducts have been cut or in the legs and arms of people who have weight or movement problems. Depression, in some, has been linked to problems in the thymus glad. Since the thymus gland not only affects, but is affected by, the lymphatic system, problems in either could contribute to depression.
Lymphatic massage was created to work the lymph system to help move fluid though the body. Incorporating this into my massage strengthens the body’s immune system. Rubbing the body the wrong direction can be detrimental to the overall benefit of the massage. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of the lymphatic system was necessary for me to get the results I wanted.
If you do find yourself sitting all day, get yourself on a treadmill for about thirty minutes, it will do you wonders…. AND DRINK WATER!
Based on Japanese finger pressing technique developed in the early part of the 20th century, it works the Chinese meridian and acupuncture lines using hand and finger pressure to release and stimulate the energy flowing through our body. Asian theory describes the world in terms of energy. All things are made of “Chi” by the Chinese or “Ki” by the Japanese. An illness is cause by an obstruction of Ki, which shows in the form of symptoms like backaches, emotional stress, intestinal disorders, and muscle pain. Treatment is therefore designed to relieve the obstruction and balance the body’s flow of Ki. It is traditionally done on a matt with the client clothed.
Polarity Therapy, like Shiatsu, is an energy-based form of bodywork, It also incorporates diet, exercise and self-awareness. Our health is viewed as a reflection of the condition of our energy field. Our energy field is affected by touch, diet, movement, sound, attitudes, relationships, life experience, trauma and environmental factors. Polarity therapy seeks to reverse the negative effects these may have on us by balancing our energy field using light touch and pressure. It is traditionally done on a mat or a table and the client is clothed.
Every massage therapist has learned Swedish. It is a basic form of massage therapy that cerates temporary feelings of relaxation and well being by manipulating the superficial layers of the body’s muscle groups. It is mostly used in spas and private practice for temporary relaxation purposes and improvement of ones mental and physical health. I received my initial training in Swedish massage and then used it as a basis for progressing to more advanced techniques with longer lasting effects. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be relaxed, but if I am paying money for a massage I want something more than having oil rubbed on me for an hour.
SIDE NOTE: Unfortunately, if a practitioner uses Swedish and presses harder into the muscle, calling it a deep tissue massage, the muscle is being tenderized and numbed… basically put into shock. When this shock wears off, usually the following day, the muscle will hurt worse than before… some believe this is a natural reaction to a deep massage... and it is. Accidents and injury often hurt more the following day. Deep tissue massage does not mean press harder. If you are looking for a deep tissue massage, make sure they took it as an advanced course.
Yes, we’ve all heard about Aromatherapy. It’s in everything now from the new Bath & Body Works line of cheep gift ideas to lemon scented Pine Sol. Like everything else that becomes mass produced, the art of its creation and skill of its use gets lost in a blitz of media frenzied advertising, sound bites, and inaccurate information about what it can and can not do. Basically, the chemical composition and aroma of certain essential oils can provide psychological and physical therapeutic benefits. If you expect or hope that aromatherapy will in itself cure a major illness or actually cure "stress," you will probably be in for a disappointment. But it has been proven to help with allergies, sleeplessness, mood disorder, muscle tension, digestive problems, and hundreds of other physical, emotional, and mental conditions.
I often use relaxing essential oil blends in my lotion, and to help alleviate sinus problems caused by the release of you lymphatic system during the massage. I also use massage balms to help with chronic pain and trigger points.
I have learned several muscle energy (MET) and assisted stretching techniques. I usually use these at the end of a massage for lower back and hip problems. I learned a great deal of information on sports massage and trigger point therapy in my NMT course which has proven to be very useful. I have also created a few of my own techniques.