A specialized form of manual therapy, neuromuscular therapy (NMT) integrates specific massage techniques, flexibility stretching and home care practices to eliminate the causes of neuromuscular pain. NMT theory explains how injury, trauma and other factors can destabilize nerve transmission, making the body vulnerable to pain and dysfunction.
Through neuromuscular therapy training, students learn to manipulate muscles, tendons and connective tissue to restore balance to the central nervous system.
Neuromuscular therapy examines five elements that cause pain: ischemia (lack of blood flow), trigger points (learn about trigger point therapy), nerve compression, postural distortion and biomechanical (movement) dysfunction. During an initial session, neuromuscular therapists interview patients about their health history, current physical condition, lifestyle, and stress levels and devise a treatment plan that addresses their pain syndromes.
Using fingers, knuckles or elbows, neuromuscular therapists apply concentrated pressure on areas of pain until they reach a trigger point, usually a spot that's extra tender or numb. At this point, they'll begin a stronger, more localized massage to relax the muscle. Relaxing muscles in this way releases lactic acid, increasing blood and oxygen flow, which, in turn, enhances the function of joints, muscles and movement.
Training and Education
What You'll Study in Neuromuscular Therapy School
Classes in neuromuscular therapy training typically come in the form of continuing education or advanced training seminars available at massage and healing arts schools. You can expect neuromuscular training course work to cover the following:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Functions and dysfunctions of muscles and joints in the torso, cranium, upper extremities and lower extremities
- Postural analysis
- Massage and structural balancing
- Neuromuscular treatment protocols
Average Length of Study
Depending on the program, neuromuscular training can take two to three days of seminar time. Some schools may offer different levels of neuromuscular therapy training that cover the causes and treatments for specific pain and emotional syndromes, such as scoliosis, carpal tunnel, migraines and even depression and guilt.
Tuition for neuromuscular training ranges from $300 to $395 per seminar. Schools typically offer seminars through the course of the year and in different regions of the country to allow for greater scheduling flexibility for students.
Neuromuscular Therapy Certification
Certification in neuromuscular therapy is available through seminar programs. Typically, neuromuscular training counts toward continuing education credits for massage therapists and other natural healing professions that benefit from using integrative therapies like NMT in practice.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of massage therapists will grow at a rate of 23 percent through 2022, which is faster than average. The public's ongoing interest in using natural healing alternatives, particularly massage, to relieve pain, injuries and stress is just one of the many factors that will contribute to the growth in massage therapy jobs in the coming decade.
Neuromuscular Therapy Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for massage therapists is $35,970, while physical therapists earned $79,860. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. In general, massage therapists who work in private practice can earn higher salaries those who work for an employer. However, self-employed therapists do have to cover costs associated with running their own business.
Is a Medical Massage Therapy Career Right for You?
A career in neuromuscular therapy requires advanced training in muscular and skeletal systems, the nervous system, and neuromuscular massage techniques. Much like a career as a massage therapist, earning a living as a neuromuscular therapy specialist takes business savvy and marketing skills to build a client base.
If you are interested in a neuromuscular therapy career, take a closer look at neuromuscular training courses. Then choose the neuromuscular school that meets your personal and professional needs.
Learn how neuromuscular therapy is similar to myofascial release.
Sources: Buckland Massage & Neuromuscular Center, Cortiva Institute, NMT Center, St. John Neuromuscular Therapy Seminars