Neurological massage therapy is not new; it has been known in the West since the 1920s and in the East, much before that. In fact, it is believed that the developers of neurological massage therapy, Stanley Lief and Boris Chaitow trained under Eastern physicians and then merged those concepts with a western understanding of anatomy and the muscular and skeletal system.
Neuromuscular massage therapy is used to treat patients with muscular pain. Generally, this pain will be in the large muscle groups known as skeletal muscles. Massage is done on specific parts of the body, with pressure applied directly above the muscle to provide relief from pain.
In this article we discuss what neuromuscular massage therapy is and what its benefits are.
What is neuromuscular therapy?
Neuromuscular therapy is very similar to massage therapy, which is why it is called neuromuscular massage therapy. There is, however, one small difference. Neuromuscular therapy is a lot more effective at treating deep-seated skeletal muscles. There is a definite science involved in this massage therapy and there are two major types of massages which are practiced.
The European system
The European system relies on the identification of trigger points in the muscles. These trigger points are those places where low oxygenation in the muscles leads to a cycle where calcium is not pumped out of the cells of the muscles, inducing the muscle to remain in a state of contraction. This is why we feel that the muscle is tight and has not loosened up.
The American system
The American system is slightly different and is more technical. This system believes in identifying the causes of the pain in the muscles first. This cause is categorized into five different types, and therapy is administered depending on the underlying cause.
Both systems are equally effective, and it is the skill of the therapist that provides relief from muscular pain.
Massage has been known to relieve pain for centuries. Almost every culture has some form of massage or the other that has been natively developed. The most popular techniques are listed below.
- Swedish massage
- Neuromuscular massage
- Shiatsu massage
- Oriental massage
- Thai massage
- Reiki massage
- Reflexology massage
- Myofascial massage
Each form of massage uses slightly different techniques. For example, a Swedish massage is a slow kneading of muscles, while a Thai massage uses specific yoga techniques, and an oriental massage uses specific pressure points that are massaged to provide relief. Moreover, the technique used by the therapist depends on the specific needs of the patient. For example, myofascial massage is a type of massage where myofascial trigger points on the face are massaged and stretched. This provides great relief from stress, which manifests as chronic headaches and facial twitches or pulls.
Similarly, neuromuscular massage is also known to be beneficial for treating muscular aches and pains, and this holds to true for both the European and the American systems.
Does Neuromuscular Massage Therapy work?
When practiced by a person who has undergone proper neuromuscular therapy training, the massage has been found to be very useful in treating specific symptoms of muscular pain; it is also believed to improve muscular movement in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and removing the stress and tension associated with cancer treatment.
A few studies show that therapy really does work and that people report an up to 50% improvement in pain and reduction in tension after the massage session. The benefits are, however, very short-term, which means that they need to be continued if its benefits are to be accrued over time.
More studies are being conducted to find out specifically how and why the therapy works, but as of now many cancer institutes are providing neuromuscular massage therapy as part of their cancer treatment.
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