This therapy focuses on releasing acute or chronically contracted muscles and tendons by applying specific and direct point pressure to the myofascia of the body. The technique is similar to Oriental acupressure (Shiatsu) with regards to methodology, yet different in terms of physiological influence. NMT is a simple and effective way to reduce pain, tension, and stress that can result from injuries, poor posture and unbalanced nutrition. The method can also gradually re-educate the neuro-muscular system so that habitual patterns of restricted physical movement are reduced, and awareness of the causal level of tension is increased.
During the last several decades, neuromuscular therapy (NMT) has emerged as a significant methodology for assessing, treating and preventing soft tissue injuries and chronic pain. NMT, a series of manual treatment protocols based on the practitioner’s skill, anatomy knowledge and precise palpatory application, has found its home, not only in the treatment rooms of massage therapy, but also in occupational and physical therapy, nursing, Naturopathic, chiropractic, osteopathic and physical medicine clinics worldwide, as well as in many forward-looking Primary Care practices.
With a foothold planted in both holistic and traditional medicine, NMT emerged in both Europe and North America almost simultaneously over the last half-century. It is interesting to note that the early developers knew little, if anything, about each other, yet the theoretical basis of all the modern protocols are similar since they are each rooted soundly in physiological principles.
Between the mid-1930s and early 1940’s, European-style neuromuscular techniques (as NMT is called in Europe) first emerged, was developed by Stanley Lief and Boris Chaitow. These cousins, trained in osteopathy and naturopathy, studied with teachers like Dewanchand Varma and Bernard Macfadden and integrated assessment and treatment steps for soft tissue dysfunction.
Over the next several decades, a step-by-step system began to emerge, supported by the writings of Janet G. Travell and David Simons. Travell and Simons’ two volume set of textbooks, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual provided the medical, dental, massage and other therapeutic communities with documentation, research and references for myofascial trigger points.