by Pamela DuRant
Center for Therapeutic Massage
Oftentimes it is difficult to determine the type of massage therapy
that will be most beneficial. Neuromuscular therapy could be the
Neuromuscular therapy is a type of bodywork that uses a postural
analysis to help determine muscle imbalances and postural distortions.
An increase in muscle tension can pull segments of the body out of
alignment. When portions of the body are out of balance the opposing
muscles take over in an attempt to correct the alignment as best as
possible, so that the body can function. This in turn leads to
The goal of neuromuscular therapy is to restore balance. Neuromuscular
therapy utilizes a spectrum of methods and techniques to help restore
this balance. These methods and techniques can include myofascial work,
manipulation of trigger points, active and passive range of motion, and
stretching. Integral to the approach taken by neuromuscular therapy is
the postural analysis and the “edge” technique. These are two things
that help separate neuromuscular therapy from other types of massage
Postural analysis is done at the beginning of the treatment sessions.
It consists of the client standing in what is their normal position and
posture while the therapist will look for imbalances, such as uneven
shoulders, a tilted head, rounded shoulders, a pelvic tilt, etc. The
therapist will also do this with the client lying face up on the table.
A postural analysis is done by sight and touch to help gauge the boney
landmarks. Not only does this individualize the treatment needed, but
it provides a reference point for the client to see and feel the
changes in their body after the treatment.
The postural analysis can also be diagramed, which provides a sort of
picture of the progress provided by the therapy. This way the client
can see the improvement in addition to feeling it. The analysis also
allows the therapist to view the body and person as a whole and not to
make the mistake of focusing only on the location of the pain.
Neuromuscular therapy does not, however, ignore the actual location of
the pain. It does limit time spent working on that specific area
to one-third that of the session, while the remaining two-thirds are
used to address the actual muscle imbalances, postural distortions, and
Client participation is also an important part of neuromuscular
therapy. It helps create a better awareness of the body for the client.
Neuromuscular therapy should not be painful. Therefore, it becomes the
client’s responsibility to communicate the edge of what they can
tolerate in regards to pressure and depth before it becomes painful.
The therapist will teach the client techniques such as deep breathing
to aid in relaxing the muscles and encourage their release.
Because of this technique, the client always controls the depth at
which the muscles are worked and the amount of pressure used, not the
For information, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/hsc/activities/massage/index.html or call 852-9939.
Friday, Dec. 12, 2008