Sports Massage Therapy

What are Neuromuscular Massage Techniques?

Breeze Academy February 8, 2023
Massage therapist working on woman's leg

If you’re new to the world of massage, either as a patient or as a Therapist, you may find that you occasionally come across terms, techniques and other language that you’re unfamiliar with - it’s only natural, but our experts at Breeze Academy are here to help. In this article, we go into detail about Neuromuscular Massage, the techniques used, the conditions that it can help to treat, and its various benefits. 

So, what are Neuromuscular Massage techniques? Neuromuscular Massage techniques are designed to treat trigger points (muscle knots), as well as reduce pain, increase range of motion and flexibility. Specific techniques include Positional Release, Palpation Release, and PNF Stretching.

Read on to learn more about Neuromuscular Massage, the techniques used, and the conditions in which it can help to treat.

What is Neuromuscular Massage?

Neuromuscular massage is a type of trigger point therapy aimed at relieving tension and restoring normal function. Massage Therapists apply varying levels of concentrated, continuous pressure to the trigger point, typically using the fingers, knuckles or elbows, for 10-30 seconds.

Trigger points are areas of muscle where there is a contracture of tissue and a lack of both blood and nutrients entering the area, all of which causes an inability for the muscle to relax and function as normal. This is often caused by direct trauma or repetitive microtrauma due to overuse of the muscle, and results in hypersensitivity, pain, fatigue and weakness across the area.

Neuromuscular Massage Techniques

Neuromuscular massage is a massage technique in itself. It is a type of trigger point therapy, often used during Sports Massage Therapy and Deep Tissue Massage, as well as during Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy. It can also be worked into a full body massage.

But, it’s the specificity of Neuromuscular Massage that sets it apart from more general massage techniques. Neuromuscular Massage Therapists are highly trained in muscle anatomy, connective tissue work, trigger point therapy and manual therapy; they’re expected to have an above-average knowledge of human anatomy and physiology as some consider this therapy to fall more on the medical side of massage than others.

Positional Release

Positional release involves the Massage Therapist putting the affected muscle into a position of ease and holding it for several seconds before releasing. This is a passive technique, also known as strain-counterstrain, that helps to release tight muscles and trigger points. It is typically performed prior to massage.

Palpation Release

This Neuromuscular Massage technique is what distinguishes the therapy from other types of massage; it is a skill that takes time to develop and involves the accuracy of touch.

Therapists palpate muscle fibres and move their hands through the many layers of tissue accurately and without injury to the client. The therapist will begin by applying alternating amounts of pressure to the area of pain or muscle spasm and when contact is made with the point of concern, pressure will not move or vary for 10-30 seconds. 

PNF Stretching

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a stretching technique that contracts and stretches the targeted muscle group at the same time. This is a great technique for neuromuscular conditions and is thought to be one of the most effective stretching techniques for increasing range of motion.

Who is Neuromuscular Massage For?

Neuromuscular Massage is a great treatment option for those who suspect having trigger points, as well as a wide range of other conditions, including:

  • Upper and lower back pain
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Sciatica
  • Cramps
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Knee pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Hip pain
  • Headaches

That being said, there are a number of groups of people that should not have Massage Therapy for health reasons. These are known as contraindications - health conditions in which massage could prove detrimental. Learn more about this in our recent blog What are the Contraindications of Sports Massage?

What are the Benefits of Neuromuscular Massage?

When Massage Therapists and other healthcare professionals utilise Neuromuscular Massage techniques, their patents receive a number of benefits beyond resolving trigger points. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduced or elimination of pain
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved strength
  • Better posture
  • Improved circulation

How Often Should You Get a Neuromuscular Massage?

It is recommended that individuals have 2-4 sessions of massage per month, however, how often individuals should have Neuromuscular Massage largely depends on severity of their condition, current needs, schedule and budget. 

It’s worth noting that some people feel the benefits of massage immediately after just one treatment, but it can be worth sticking with a course of treatment in order to maximise results. 

Learn more about how often you should get a massage in our recent blog where we go into more detail on the signs that you need a massage, how long it takes massage to work, and the benefits of having regular massage.

Final Thoughts

Neuromuscular Massage is an offshoot of other massage therapies, such as Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage, that treat trigger points. However, Neuromuscular Massage Therapists tend to be more highly trained in anatomy and physiology, with a specific focus on the neuromuscular system. As such, it is claimed that Neuromuscular Massage is closer to medical massage than regular massage. 

This treatment is particularly beneficial for those with suspected or diagnosed trigger points, but can also be useful against back pain, sciatica, cramps and even headaches. But, this is a treatment that only qualified Massage Therapists should do as incorrect technique could make conditions worse. 

In the UK, Level 4 qualified Massage Therapists are able to perform this therapy, as training typically includes high-level anatomy and physiology training. At Breeze Academy, our Level 4 Massage Courses feature Neuromuscular Massage training, both theoretical and practical. If you have already completed a Level 3 course, or are a Physiotherapy or Sports Rehabilitation student, take a look at our Level 4 or Direct to Level 4 courses today to learn more about what you can expect from a Breeze Academy course, and what you will learn on the course.

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