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NMT Article

This article about Neuromuscular Therapy appeared in the January 2003 Women's Magazine:

By Ben Crabtree, RMT, MTI, CNMT / Lois Pearson, RMT, LVN

The New Year is upon us and so are the New Year’s resolutions. By definition a resolution is an agreement or promise to do something. We make resolutions about losing weight, quitting our bad habits, and being nicer to children and small animals. Somehow, we end up not keeping our resolutions. One reason we don’t keep our resolutions is simple, we just don’t feel up to it. Keeping a resolution while suffering with headaches, jaw pain, stiff necks, back pain, and hurting shoulders is difficult. In addition to muscular and joint pain there’s stress. While stress can be a motivator that pushes us to go the extra mile and accomplish great things, it’s also the source of the body’s “fight or flight” response. That’s the same response that leads to chronic tension, fatigue, and a decreased ability to heal. Combine stress with muscular and joint pain and it’s no wonder our resolutions quickly fade away. Perhaps the resolution we should make and keep is simply to feel better before the end of the year.

Feeling better could mean a lot of things but, if getting rid of your headaches, backaches, stiff neck, shoulder pain, or sore feet is what you mean then Neuromuscular Therapy, or NMT, could be for you. Originally developed in England in the 1930’s by Dr. Stanley Leif and his cousin Dr. Boris Chaitow, NMT is an advanced form of massage therapy that targets the sources of your pain, dysfunction, and stress. Today, NMT is widely practiced by a number of disciplines in the medical community from osteopathic physicians and Chiropractors to massage therapists. In fact for 30 years many massage therapists have sought out the advanced NMT training, and have become the primary providers of NMT – Neuromuscular Therapists.

Neuromuscular Therapists have found that the source of pain and dysfunction is very often located in the body’s soft tissues. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and even skin may be at the heart of pain and stiffness due to a litany of problems. Poor posture, recent or long-forgotten traumas, and even emotional turmoil place repeated stresses on the body’s soft tissues causing them to adapt and compensate. The compensations that occur cause the tissues to become abnormally tight, congested, and hypersensitive to pressures placed upon them. Once compensation starts it becomes a self-perpetuating problem that is seemingly resistant to prescriptions, exercise, stretching, and even more sleep. In fact, sometimes exercises and stretching designed to help can make matters worse since soft tissues can “refer” pain to areas far from the cause.

So how does the Neuromuscular Therapy help? Well, in the beginning, the Neuromuscular Therapist will have you complete a health questionnaire and a precisely describe the location of your pain. Next the Neuromuscular Therapist is going to perform a systematic and comprehensive evaluation. During the evaluation your posture will be checked for deviation from normal, and joints will be evaluated for smooth unrestricted movement. After posture and joints, the soft tissues will be thoroughly checked for general and focussed tenderness, swelling, contracted tissues, restriction of movement, and even variations in temperature. Armed with knowledge gained from the evaluation the Neuromuscular Therapist will develop a treatment plan to target the cause, not just symptoms, of your pain.

Once the treatment plan is in place the good part begins – treatment. NMT treatment is quite similar to getting a relaxing massage. The session will take place on a padded massage table for your comfort and the Neuromuscular Therapist will begin with lightly lubricating your skin and performing some gliding strokes. As the session continues the gliding strokes will occasionally be interrupted by kneading and compression of certain tender areas called trigger points, on muscular attachments, and other areas of restriction. Using this deceptively simple method, combined with targeted stretches and joint movements, the Neuromuscular Therapist’s trained and sensitive hands help areas of tension and pain melt away. Depending on your specific pain and dysfunction the NMT session may focus on one area such as a leg or arm, or it might cover your entire body. Either way you’ll emerge from your NMT session relaxed, feeling less pain, and knowing your pain and stress will soon be just a memory.

Getting the best results from NMT depends on finding and selecting a Neuromuscular Therapist. The easiest way to find a Neuromuscular Therapist is by looking in the phone book under “massage therapists” and checking for those that list NMT or Neuromuscular Therapy. You could also search the World Wide Web. Once you find a prospective Neuromuscular Therapist you should check a few things. How long have they been practicing NMT? Have they had experience with your particular problems? And, which type of NMT do they practice? Regarding experience, more is usually better. As for the type of NMT there are three methods which are prevalent in the U.S., the Lane method, St. John method, and Delany method. Choosing a Neuromuscular Therapist versed in one or more of these methods helps to assure great results.

This year keep your resolutions but lose your pain and stress. Dedicate yourself to improving the way you feel, the way you move, and to reducing the stress in your life. Try Neuromuscular Therapy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and it will go a long way toward improving your health and happiness.

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