At first glance, neuromuscular therapy (NMT) might seem like just another name for a deep tissue massage, but this is far from correct. At the most rudimentary level, there is a stark contrast in qualifications required for the two treatments.  

Neuromuscular therapy is its own certification. Having this qualification means that you are truly a master of the muscular system. Unlike deep tissue massage, it doesn’t fall under the “Massage Therapy” umbrella of treatments. Typically, in order to gain this certification, an additional 2-3 years of school are required before you can take the exam.

The other main difference between the two treatments is their use.

Deep tissue, Swedish and other forms of massage therapy typically address muscle aches and pains related to daily stress, and are normally administered on a on-off basis whenever the client feels the need for a little extra rest and relaxation.

Neuromuscular therapy is a form of medical massage therapy. This highly-specialized form of manual therapy aims at correcting pain and dysfunction by treating muscle adhesions, trigger points and connective tissue patterns. Development of these problem areas is usually caused by a specific trauma, repetitive movements or simply bad posture.

Given that the treatment seeks to treat one specific problem area, NMT is only administered to one part of the body. In contrast, most massage therapies cover the whole body or other broad areas, like the entire back and neck.

NMT isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. Before the therapy can begin, the therapist determines a pain scale with the patient. The scale ranges between 1-10, with the goal of keeping the pain from reaching above a 7. While it is generally understood that NMT causes a certain amount of pain, reaching an 8 or above will cause too much stress on the patient, making the treatment counterproductive.

Similar to other forms of physical therapy, multiple sessions are often needed to correct the area causing pain. However, once the sessions are complete and the patient has taken corrective measures to their daily habits, like correcting posture, NMT is often an effective method for long term pain relief.

Dr. Rand

Author Dr. Rand

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