How Deep Tissue and Neuromuscular Massage Therapy Differ
Have you ever had an agonizing spot between your shoulders in your neck; a headache coming from seemingly nowhere? You try to rub it out, but to no good. You might have a friend or spouse push on the "knot" between your shoulders, or rub your forehead... but nothing happens. It might feel good for the moment, but there is no or very little relief.
The reason is that your discomfort or pain is not coming from the area you are rubbing. It's coming from a distance place elsewhere in the body and what you feel is referred pain from a trigger point.
Neuromuscular therapy involves work on trigger points and it also involves an examination of your alignment or posture. Your posture is often a reason for the formation of trigger points and therefore needs to be addressed.
When you come in for a treatment with a neuromuscular therapist, a look at your posture can give us a lot of information and a quick idea of what we should address first to lessen your pain/discomfort. Tight muscles can pull you out of proper alignment; we want your body back in alignment and in balance to stop tension and the creation of trigger points. A trigger point can form due to: posture (habitual posture at work), post-surgery scar tissue, disease, illness, vitamin deficiency, stress (mental and physical), aging, metabolic disorders, toxic food, bony anomalies and more....
When I work on someone, clients often ask me if I can feel the trigger point, or how can I possibly end up right on it? Most often I can feel it when working on the tissue, but sometimes I just have a sense of where it is. This "sense" is probably made up from knowing where the general location of the trigger point is in most people and a tissue response, such as a little twitch, a little flutter, resistance to my pressure, or the sensation that the area feels a little warmer than the rest.
By now you're probably thinking, "So, what is a trigger point?"
A trigger point can be small as a pin head, a little nodule pea size, or it can be a large lump, or several lumps together; tender spots in a taut band, hard muscle that feels like a cord or guitar string, ropey and stringy, like spaghetti glued together. There are different theories about how trigger points form. One popular theory is that the root of a nerve is traumatized or pinched, and trigger points form along this traumatized nerve.
If you are one of those who never had a neuromuscular treatment but would like to get more results out of your deep tissue massages, NMT is probably something for you. Neuromuscular work is a form of deep tissue work, but the difference from a regular deep tissue massage and neuromuscular work is the trigger point release. If we treat a muscle and neglect to release the major trigger points, the muscle won't relax much. This is usually when people will say after their massage, "Well, it felt good as long as it lasted, but it didn't do anything." That's probably because the trigger points weren't released. An arm or hand was probably just sliding over the trigger points. A trigger point has to be treated with a static pressure in order to release.