What Is Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)?

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a type of massage that reduces pain through the elimination of trigger points. According to my mentor, Tracy Maxfield,

“NMT relies heavily on palpation skills to locate small, irritable spots within taut bands of muscle fiber. These points often refer pain to other parts of the body. The muscles are being told what to do by the nervous system, so trigger point therapy tries to reduce the nerve impulse frequency and magnitude by holding pressure on the trigger point. Once the muscle has more appropriate instructions, the client will often have reduced pain and greater range of motion. Quite often the trigger points return along with the pain and dysfunction, so the goal is to figure out why the nervous system is sending a heightened signal in the first place. If a therapist treats the cause of dysfunction, NMT can have a very long lasting benefit.”

What is a trigger point?


According to Google, a trigger point is “a sensitive area of the body, stimulation or irritation of which causes a specific effect in another part, especially a tender area in a muscle that causes generalized musculoskeletal pain when overstimulated.”

What makes a trigger point different from a knot is that the trigger point sends pain to other areas of the body whereas a pain from a knot stays around the knotty area. When pain is sent to another part of your body, it is called referred pain. Referred pain can show up in any number of places, so it’s tricky to find the true origin.

How does NMT work?

On the website explaining Neuromuscular Therapy, the author gives an example of shoulder pain. To discover why you’re having pain, your therapist would want to check the muscles of the shoulder joint (both stabilizers and movers). Next, your therapist should check your arms.

“Dysfunctions within the arm, forearm and hand often produce compensation patterns in shoulder movement, so examination of those regions should be included. Since innervation to the shoulder exits the spine at the cervical region, mobility and muscles of the neck will be considered; compression or entrapment of the nerves serving the shoulder should be ruled out.”

Who can benefit from NMT?

Anyone who is in pain can benefit from NMT.

According to massagerevolution.com, Neuromuscluar Therapy has been used to treat many issues including:

  • back, neck, and joint pain;
  • headaches and migraines;
  • fibromyalgia;
  • carpal tunnel;
  • herniated discs;
  • scoliosis;
  • sports injuries;
  • TMJ;
  • whiplash;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • thoracic outlet syndrome;
  • tendonitis;
  • spasms, cramps, and strains;
  • postural distortions; and
  • stress and tension.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Massage therapists must receive special training in Neuromuscular Therapy in order to be able to practice it. Here is a link to a directory that should be able to put you in touch with a nearby practitioner.

Have you experienced Neuromuscular Therapy? If you have, tell us about it in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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