A neuromuscular massage is a form of manual massage used to release strained muscles. Strained areas are also known as trigger points that tend to be the cause of muscular pain symptoms. Trigger points are small areas of the muscle that contract the tissue. The lack of blood and nutrients in these areas causes an inability for the muscles to relax. The area becomes hypersensitive, causing fatigue, weakness, inflammation, and pain. Trigger points can lead to referred pain in which other areas of the body experience sensations of pain, tingling or numbness.
Neuromuscular massage treatment involves applying alternating levels of concentrated pressure on the trigger point/s done through manual and instrument manipulation. Neuromuscular therapy is also called trigger point myotherapy. The American Academy of Pain Management recognizes this form of treatment as an effective treatment for pain caused by soft tissue injury.
Deep Tissue Massage
A deep tissue massage is generally used to address muscle aches and pains and is administered on an on-off basis. Neuromuscular manual therapy techniques are specialized and designed to correct pain and movement dysfunction by treating:
- Trigger points
- Muscle adhesions
- Connective tissue patterns
Problems are usually caused by:
- Specific trauma
- Repetitive movements
- Unhealthy posture
Neuromuscular massage is considered an ongoing treatment.
Massage Reduces Pain
Muscles, when spasming, are painful to the touch. The pain is caused by ischemic muscle tissue. Ischemia means the muscle is lacking proper blood flow because of the spasm. This causes adverse effects because the muscles are not receiving enough blood; the muscles also do not receive enough oxygen.
- The lack of oxygen causes the muscles to produce lactic acid.
- The lactic acid causes the muscles to feel sore following physical activity.
Neuromuscular massage therapy relaxes the muscles releasing the lactic acid, allowing the muscles to receive enough blood and oxygen. Neuromuscular therapy can feel painful at first, but the pressure of the massage will alleviate the muscle spasm/s. It is crucial to communicate with the chiropractor and massage therapist about the pressure – whether it is too much, too little, feels better, feels worse, etc. Massage therapy pressure should never be overly painful. Individuals often describe the pressure as good pain, where they can feel the difference. Following a neuromuscular massage, the soreness should fade after twenty-four to thirty-six hours. The tight muscles should remain relaxed for four to fourteen days, depending on activities and stress levels.
Medical issues and conditions for which neuromuscular massage can treat include:
- Temporomandibular joint pain – TMJ disorders
- Jaw pain
- Carpal tunnel
- Upper back pain
- Low back pain
- Hip pain
- Knee pain
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Calf cramps
- Plantar fasciitis
Neuromuscular Massage Benefits
Individuals who undergo neuromuscular massage therapy can experience the following benefits:
- Reduced and/or complete elimination of pain.
- Increased blood circulation.
- Body toxin release.
- Increased flexibility and strength.
- Better movement.
- Improved posture.
- Balanced musculoskeletal and nervous systems.
- Increased energy and vitality.
When it comes to getting fit, remember it is a long-distance marathon, not a quick sprint. Whether physical, mental, or a combination, fatigue is a common obstacle for successfully reaching health goals. Physical fitness requires energy:
- Energy for work or school.
- Energy to set up the gear or get to the gym.
- Energy for the workout.
- Energy to prepare regular healthy meals.
Combined with the pressures of everyday life can make it a challenge to work out consistently. The objective is to make gradual changes rather than significant immediate changes. This will help prevent/avoid early burnout and help lead to maintaining healthy habits. One tip could be scheduling the workouts and meal prep time for the day or week when most active. For example, knowing that after work or school, the body can’t take a workout and needs to crash at the end of the day, set up the exercise for the morning or afternoon. And once the workouts become a routine, energy levels will improve, allowing for more activity.
Bervoets, Diederik C et al. “Massage therapy has short-term benefits for people with common musculoskeletal disorders compared to no treatment: a systematic review.” Journal of physiotherapy vol. 61,3 (2015): 106-16. doi:10.1016/j.jphys.2015.05.018
Field, Tiffany. “Massage therapy research review.” Complementary therapies in clinical practice vol. 24 (2016): 19-31. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.04.005
Furlan, Andrea D et al. “Massage for low-back pain.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews,9 CD001929. 1 Sep. 2015, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001929.pub3
Qaseem, Amir et al. “Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians.” Annals of internal medicine vol. 166,7 (2017): 514-530. doi:10.7326/M16-2367
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