At Neuromuscular Therapy of Vermont, I utilize a broad range of therapeutic approaches because not all problems respond to just one type of therapy.
Some individuals require very subtle and gentle techniques like myofascial release and craniosacral therapy, while others may need a more direct approach like deep tissue bodywork.
When muscles are strained or in spasm I find they respond most quickly to Neuromuscular Therapy. More recently I’ve incorporated the use of Active Isolated Stretching which works wonders for wide variety of pain and dysfunction.
Here is a summary of these modalities. Those highlighted as a link have their own page where you’ll find a more in-depth description of that technique.
In some sessions I will use just one of the methods described here. In others, depending on the requirements of the problem and the preferences of the client, I will employ several methods.
The origins of Neuromuscular Therapy date back to the early part of the 20th century. In the U.S., the St. John Method of Neuromuscular Therapy has been most widely disseminated and this is the approach I employ.
St. John NMT is a style of therapeutic massage and a method of postural analysis guided by neurological and physiological principles. This method relieves pain by calming the feedback loop between the muscular and nervous systems with gentle but detailed hands-on therapy.
Deep Tissue Massage & Bodywork has its roots the work of Ida Rolf, Ph.D. who developed the technique commonly known as Rolfing. The techniques of Deep Tissue Massage focus on lengthening the body’s fascia which, when either too short or adhered to neighboring soft tissue, can disrupt proper joint movement, set up compensatory muscular problems, and sometimes cause significant pain.
There are many misconceptions about Deep Tissue Massage such as that it’s extremely painful. This is an inaccurate view and says more about the therapist administering the work than it does about the work itself.
Developed by internationally-renowned kinesiotherapist Aaron Mattes, Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a therapist-assisted stretching technique, but also a technique anyone can learn to do on their own.
It involves targeting and stretching one muscle at a time by actively contracting the antagonist muscle, moving it to its end range of motion, then holding the stretch for no longer than two seconds. The active motion automatically relaxes the muscle to be stretched by virtue of a neurological phenomenon called reciprocal inhibition.
By not holding the stretch any longer than two seconds, the protective stretch reflex is not provoked. This reflex is an undesirable response when attempting to stretch soft tissue. By repeating this type of movement up to ten times, with the therapist gently increasing the range of the stretch with each repetition, a pumping action forces oxygen into the muscle tissue and flushes out toxins.
Developed by physical therapist John Barnes, Myofascial Release (MFR) also focuses on lengthening the body’s fascia but utilizes a broad-handed stretching method which is subtler than Deep Tissue Bodywork and also targets the long fascial planes of the body.
MFR is ideal for those clients who need fascial lengthening but cannot tolerate the sometimes intense depth of Deep Tissue work. Barnes states that this method has a greater impact on the medium in which fascia lives (called ground substance) and therefore has a more lasting effect in lengthening fascia.
MFR accomplishes this by the duration of the technique which can often take several minutes for each fascial line.
Somatic Movement Therapy
Somatic Movement Therapy reawakens the mind's control of chronically contracted muscles using a series of gentle, easy-to-learn movements. This type of therapy is especially useful when the pain is so strong that the client can't easily be touched without significant pain or overstimulation of the tissues.
At it’s core, the focus of this therapy is to eliminate Sensory-Motor Amnesia, a state of habitual tension in which an individual has literally lost conscious control of certain muscles. Tension and movement habits cannot be changed by drugs or surgery but only by new learning.
Somatic Movement aids in developing or reactivating neural pathways that enable a person to move voluntarily and freely with an accurate body-sense. The gentle movements of this method facilitate the process of re-establishing voluntary control of one’s muscular system.
Craniosacral Therapy was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger following extensive scientific studies from 1975 to 1983 at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics.
CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system - comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, a practitioner helps to release restriction in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.
By complementing the body's natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.