Megan here. Have you ever thought it was weird when you’re receiving a massage and you feel a pain or sensation other than where I was touching? Well don’t worry — that’s completely normal. Its called a trigger point, and it’s basically a knot or tension in the muscle that refers pain to other muscles in the body. In fact, there’s a whole massage modality called Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) that is devoted to capturing and using the information contained in trigger points. I use it to create a map of the connections between your muscle groups. And, like all maps, this one helps us get where we’re going faster.
NMT is a specialized form of deep tissue massage in which pressure and friction are used to release areas of strain in the muscle. It’s extremely useful in releasing muscle adhesions (a.k.a knots) and trigger points. It allows the muscle I’m working on to relax and let go of all that stress it’s holding on to.
What does NMT look like? Basically, it’s a more detailed way of working a specific muscle. I find a trigger point or even a tender point in a specific muscle and hold that point until the pain subsides. Then I release the pressure on that point and repeat until the muscle softens or releases completely.
The thing I find most fascinating about NMT is that the key or main trigger pain can cause what are known as satellite trigger points throughout other muscles. Muscles have certain referral patterns. For example, the upper traps will often refer (or go up toward) the head. My job is to find the key trigger point, which can often release the satellite trigger points it originally created. This can lead to less pain and reduced stress in the muscle.
Right after I learned about NMT in school, I was immediately intrigued. I ran home to try it on my husband because I know he has many tender points and trigger points due to the amount he works out. I first started on his traps. From there, he would describe other spots where he felt the sensations in his muscles. I followed those points of tension until I reached the base of his head. At that point, he said he finally felt all the tension melt away. The next day he said he felt better than he ever had. By following these trigger points as a map of his body, I was able to find the key trigger point, which released many, if not all, of the satellite trigger points. From that day on, I was convinced that I would be using this therapy quite often. And today, in my practice, I use NMT in probably over 50% of my massage sessions.
NMT is an invaluable tool that can help tremendously in alleviating chronic pain. While it’s actually one of the more simple and straightforward techniques, it’s become a huge part of my massage regimen, and I will continue to use NMT on clients who need it to help relieve muscle tension.
Thanks for reading! I hope to see you on my massage table soon.