Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular therapy is a type of massage/manual therapy that is often confusingly referred to as deep tissue massage therapy. NMT concentrates

Neuromuscular technique (NMT) is a method of diagnostic and therapeutic value, which is simple in it’s application yet has enormous potential. ~Leon Chaitow. Soft Tissue Manipulation

History of Neuromuscular therapy

Taken mostly from NMT Center, American version website.

1930/1940 Europe. Cousins Stanley Lief (born in Latavia in the early 1890s) and Boris Chaitow who were chiropractors studied with Dewanchand Varma (author of Pranotherapy – The Origins of Polarity Therapy and European Neuromuscular Technique ) and Bernard MacFadden who taught assessment and treatment methods for soft tissue dysfunction. Stanley Lief was in poor health which created his interest in health and reading American Magazines which eventually led to his training with Bernarr Macfadden. He became a chiropractor and naturopath and started Hydro, Champneys at Tring in Hertfordshire. Stanley and Boris developed and refined NMT. Peter Lief, Brian Youngs, Terry Moule, Leon Chaitow (nephew of Boris), John Sharkey and others, were also leaders in learning and spreading neuromuscular methods.

1990’s. Leon Chaitow lead the way in helping to create an elective module as part of a Bachelor of Science (BSc(Hons)) degree at the Complementary Health Sciences at the University of Westminster, London

1940/1950 – “The work of Janet Travell MD (Travell & Rinzler) and Raymond Nimmo (1970) resulted in the evolution of what has become American NMT (neuromuscular therapy). This knowledge led to the use of NMT evaluation as a means of ‘combing’ the tissues for trigger points, and the use of the therapeutic aspect of NMT as a means of deactivating these”

“The letters NMT are used in Europe to describe ‘ neuromuscular technique’, while in the USA it is the abbreviation for ‘neuromuscular therapy’. NMT was developed in Europe in the 1930s, primarily by Stanley Lief ND DO, as a derivation of a form of Ayurvedic massage then practised with great
success by Dr Dewanchand Varma in Paris and, subsequently, in London (Varma, 1936). Lief evolved a dual
use of neuromuscular technique (his name for the method), one with a diagnostic and the other with a therapeutic intent.” What is NMT? Leon Chaitow DOI:

In America, Raymond Nimmo and James Vannerson published their newsletter, Receptor Tonus Techniques, where they wrote of their experiences with what they termed ‘noxious nodules’.

1970. Paul St. John taught his version of neuromuscular therapy in the US.
The St John Neuromuscular Therapy techniques balance the central nervous system (brain, spinal column and nerves) with the structure and form of the musculoskeletal system. NMT is based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system maintains homeostatic balance. These same laws dictate how the central nervous system initiates pain response.

There are five principles to Neuromuscular Therapy:
1. Postural Distortion
2. Biomechanical Dysfunctions
3. Trigger Points
4. Nerve Compression/Entrapment
5. Ischemia

1980’s, Judith (Walker) DeLany became St. John’s first additional instructor of his method of neuromuscular therapy. DeLany (then Judith Walker) worked with St. John for five years (1984-89), where she assisted in the development of NMT techniques and protocols for massage therapy application.

1989, St. John and DeLany separated their work into two styles, NMT St. John Method and NMT American version™, respectively. Both systems retained a strong focus on Nimmo’s original protocols.

American-style neuromuscular therapy uses a medium-paced (thumb or finger) gliding stroke whereas European-style neuromuscular techniques use a slow-paced, thumb-drag method of discovery. They also have a slightly different emphasis on the method of application of ischemic compression when treating trigger points. Both versions emphasize the need to develop a home-care program and encourage the client’s participation in the recovery process.

1996, a landmark event for American NMT occurred when NMT American version™ was overviewed in Leon Chaitow’s Modern Neuromuscular Techniques, as contributed by Judith DeLany.

Chaitow and DeLany, as well as internationally known athletic trainer Benny Vaughn and chiropractor/author Craig Liebenson, formed the editorial team for the first peer-reviewed journal in the field of bodywork, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. The first issue of JBMT was published in October 1996 and, with four issues each year for almost two decades, has proven to be a tremendously resourceful multidisciplinary publication with a strong presence of all manual modalities. Its articles focus strongly on the clinical application of all forms of soft tissue therapies and the integration of multiple disciplines of health care.

Chaitow and Delany published the first definitive academic textbooks on NMT, integrating the American and European versions. Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques, Vols. 1 & 2 (later published as second editions), with accompanying study guide, established a high standard of academic excellence for NMT.

1999, a second edition of Travell and Simon’s classic 1983 text, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction, The Trigger Point Manual, (Vol. 1 Upper Half of Body), was published.

Modern Neuromuscular Therapy is now a hybrid of many different therapies; therapeutic massage, myofascial release (MFR), manual trigger point therapy (MTT), positional release (PRT), muscle energy technique (MET), connective tissue massage (CTM) and may even incorporate lymphatic drainage (MLD), visceral manipulation (VM), and neural mobilizations. To reinforce the treatment gains homecare activities (HCA) are  often recommended.

Learn Neuromuscular Therapy

One of the best places to learn traditional Neuromuscular therapy (American version) is from Judith Delaney’s, Neuromusular Therapy Center, although they advertise that you can obtain a certification, it is not a TRUE certification. A TRUE certification comes from a separate organization that specializes in creating certification exams. Anyone taking any type of neuromuscular training should be able to sit for and pass a TRUE certification exam.