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Bodywork: Neuromuscular Massage Therapy

By Sarah Mertyris, CMT

One of the most utilized massage modalities at HOPE Wellness Institute is Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT). Our owner and founder, Venice Sullivan, has been a Certified Neuromuscular Massage Therapist for over 20 years. She trained with and was an instructor for Paul St. John, a prominent American Neuromuscular Therapist who in the late 70’s and early 80’s developed and taught his own methodology for NMT. Many of the therapists at HOPE Wellness Institute are former students of the Massage Therapy Institute in Davis where Venice has taught NMT for the past 11 years. It is a massage method that is near and dear to our hearts and minds in terms of how we view the body and its recovery from injury and dysfunction.

At its most simple definition, NMT is “the utilization of static pressure on specific myofascial points to relieve pain.” Therapists who use NMT are educated in the physiology of the nervous system, anatomy of the body, kinesiology and biomechanics. This technique manipulates the soft tissue of the body in order to balance the central nervous system and restore equilibrium to the body so that it can maintain normal function and overall health.

NMT recognizes five principles that cause pain in the body:
1. Ischemia: lack of blood supply to soft tissue which causes hypersensitivity to touch.
2. Trigger Points: highly irritated points in muscles which refer pain to other parts of the body.
3. Nerve Compression: pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone.
4. Postural Distortion: imbalance of the muscular system resulting from the movement of the body off the longitudinal and horizontal planes.
5. Biomechanical Dysfunction: imbalance of the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns (i.e. poor lifting habits, computer keyboarding, etc)

NMT is more medically based than many other massage modalities. We use structural analysis and charting to record imbalances in the body. These tools provide “road maps” for unraveling dysfunction in the body. When used in a reproducible manner, it can offer evidence of change and progress in our clients. Charting can tell us where to work in the body and why; we share this information with our clients so that they can understand what is going on in their body and be an active participant towards change.

NMT requires client participation during sessions as well as outside of sessions. We want feedback from our clients while we are working in order to ensure that we are…
• Working within a comfortable level of pressure:
o “On a scale of 1 to 10, what level is this sensation?”
• Finding and affecting trigger points:
o “What do you feel when I press here?”
o “Where does that refer?”
o “Tell me when it changes?”
• Continuing client progress outside of sessions:
o “Tonight I would suggest that you drink water and put ice on the areas that we worked today.”
o “Here are a few stretches that I can recommend that will address the restrictions you are experiencing.”

At HOPE Wellness Institute, Venice has not only compiled a team of exceptional therapists that utilize NMT, she has also acquired Low Light Level Therapy (LLLT) technology that can be combined with NMT to create a holistic treatment package for our clients.

NMT trigger point principles believe that the following factors can influence myofascial health:
• Nutritional Deficiency: especially Vitamin C, B-Complex and Iron.
• Hormonal Imbalances: Low thyroid, menopausal and premenstrual fluctuations
• Infections: Bacteria, viruses or yeast.
• Allergies: Wheat and dairy in particular.
• Low oxygenation of tissues: aggravated by tension, stress, inactivity and poor respiration.

The LLLT offered at HOPE Wellness Institute deals with all of the aforementioned factors.

We encourage those who have not found long term solutions to their pain and dysfunction to ask about our NMT services. We dedicate our work to locating the source of referred pain and eliminating it. We treat the problem, not the symptom!

Referenced articles:

Therapeutic Massage, Neuromuscular, Brain Balancing, Smoking Cessation, PTSD | HOPE Wellness Institute, California, Sacramento, Oragevale, 916, 530, Central Valley