Therapy

Massage vs. NMT: Whats the difference?

Neuromuscular Therapy Santa Monica

We’ve all had massages and I think that we can all agree, they are incredible!  Not only do they feel great and relieve stress, but massage work can be a very effective way to address aches and pains in the body.  Research shows it is just as effective, if not more than therapies such as chiropractic and acupuncture at getting results.

The thing is, not all massage therapy is created equal.

Typically, we tend to think of massage therapy as a sort of “spa-like” experience (you know, with lavender candles, soft music, etc) but there exists a whole other kind of massage that you may not have heard about.

Introducing Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT for short) is a clinical form of massage therapy.  There are some very distinct differences between general massage and NMT that I want to discuss and you’ll find out why you will be likely opting for NMT in the near future. (and hint…we’re bringing this to you RIGHT inside the double doors of IRON Santa Monica very soon…)

So, why is NMT different from regular massage?

The difference lies in specificity.  Therapists who perform NMT are specially trained to use a variety of techniques that address not only the muscles, but the NERVOUS system too. (hence the “neuro” part of neuromuscular therapy).

General massage therapy is very effective at relaxing you, and flushing blood to areas where aches and pains exist, but it doesn’t get the underlying mechanisms which created the problem to begin with, which means you’re often left with only a short term fix.

Your ongoing aches and pains involve multiple components that need to be addressed for resolution.  This is where NMT shines.

Here are 5 of those components:

Lack of Blood Flow

You know what dull aching feeling you get when you sit or stand for a certain period of time?  Aches that seem to appear when you’re stressed or tired?  Just overall tightness?  All of these might be coming from reduced blood flow to an area, which we call ischemia.

Often times when tissues hurt, muscles become tense and become more guarded.  We also tend to move less when we have aches and pains (on top of the fact most people sit all day!).  Both of these scenarios lead to less blood flow, which can make nerves more sensitive and drive more pain.

Trigger Points

Have you ever had something hurting, but when you poke or rub on the area, there are no sensitive areas?  Its almost like a general sensation but you can’t pinpoint where its coming from?  This might be the work of trigger points.

Trigger points can refer pain/sensations to other areas often very far from where they are located.  This is VERY common when it comes to headaches.  Trigger points found in the back side of your neck, when pressed on, will often times reveal the exact headache pattern.  When the trigger points are de-activated, the pain goes away!

Where you hurt isn’t necessarily the area where the problem is.  Identifying the root cause of the problem may involve identifying trigger point locations and addressing them for long term results.

Nerve Compression or Entrapment

Maybe you’ve felt a tingly-type sensation or even a sharp “fire-y” feeling in a specific spot.  Have you ever bumped your funny-bone?  You know that feeling that persists a while afterwards?  Have you ever had sciatica?  These are all potentially related to nerve compression or entrapment.

Nerves normally tolerate compression with no problem but when a number of factors come together, they can become overly-sensitive to even small amounts of compression.  NMT addresses this by freeing up soft-tissues around the area that you feel pain in, and allows for more space and mobility of the tissues and joints.

Postural Distortions

Habitual positions that we get ourselves stuck in for hours per day (sitting at a desk, driving, staring down at our phones)  can contribute to stress on our muscles, joints, and other soft tissues.  We are meant to MOVE and when we create bad habits, we tend to move in ways that can actually hurt us. NMT works to break up those patterns and create a better alignment of your body so that you can move the way you’re supposed to!

Biomechanical Dysfunction

Similar to postural distortion, when you are moving poorly due to habits you’ve created (unintentionally), it is oftentimes due to a neuromuscular dysfunction (meaning it’s your brain that created the habit, not a physical restriction). When these movement imbalances are present, going to the gym and performing tons of reps and sets in a poor position can lead to stress on your muscles, causing pain.  

All those bench presses, squats, curls and other repetitive patterns that aren’t done in the correct manner can create the inevitable aches or pains that requires you to take time off or face even more intense correctional approaches.  

NMT is a solution to release soft tissue stress, restore normal movement, and can allow you to get you back into your training program.

Now that you’re more aware of what NMT can do for you, you can see why it’s something that we regard so highly. Instead of just working on the symptoms, we are getting after the root causes.

This typically gives a longer or in some cases a permanent solution to keep you moving, lifting, and feeling in top shape!

…AND the BEST news of it all…NMT is coming to IRON soon…so keep your ears open for news!