What is a Neuromuscular Massage Therapist?

Neuromuscular Massage Therapists or NMTs take a medical view of the human body, believing that each muscle was created to function free of abnormal muscular tension (hypertonicity) and free of pain. They also believe that the human body has the ability to heal itself. The goal of the therapist is to treat the muscle groups through manual manipulation. They focus on muscle groups that cause pain and therefore an imbalance in the structure and eventually function of the body.
This lack of structural balance leads other muscles in the body to work additionally to compensate for the primary injured muscle group. NMTs primary role is to treat the musculoskeletal system with specific massage techniques which in turn relieve the nervous system. Unlike Massage Therapists that offer massage for recreation or leisure, NMTs are focused on the goal of rehabilitation. For this to occur the modality of Neuromuscular Massage Therapy is considered one of the most clinical styles of manual bodywork and NMTs often work alongside Physicians,Physical Therapists and Exercise Physiologists.

Spa vs. Medical Massage

As it was mentioned before Spa Massage Therapists focus on product use for the enhancement of relaxation. The massage pressure can range from light to deep but no specific issues of muscular pain are addressed. Spa Massage Therapists are trained to assist their clientele to relax and utilize massage for a pleasant experience.
NMTs are focused on producing results. Their initial consultation with you will often be compromised of questions regarding your overall health. Your diet, exercise regimen, activity level and posture at work will also be inquired. NMTs are trained to take an assessment of the way you walk (gait), how you hold your body and the way you move in order to find any abnormalities. Once an evaluation has been conducted, the therapist has a clear understanding of which muscle groups to focus on. This requires additional knowledge through the study of physiology (how the body moves).
A Spa Massage Therapist is not required to document any medical history but will ask you about previous injuries and any allergies you may have. In a spa, products including synthetic and natural ingredients are used which is why they focus on these questions.


The very foundation of what makes a Neuromuscular Massage Therapist stand out is their knowledge in human anatomy. The continual study of this saves precious time in the treatment room as your NMT will spend less time guessing where it hurts and will surprise you with their ability to find the injured area quickly. The more experience a therapist has, the quicker they will be able to locate the areas that need work immediately.

Inflammation and Injury

Neuromuscular Maassage Therapists have been trained to treat muscular pathologies that will at times include inflammation with the injury. It is pertinent that the injured muscle is not exposed to deep tissue massage work by an untrained therapist which will increase inflammation and cause more harm. Despite the inflamed areas, these therapist may still provide massage in the surrounding muscle groups which will also experience abnormal tension.

Patient Care

NMTs that treat painful injuries choose to help people that have become frustrated , depressed and angry at their helpless state. Although all Massage Therapists should be empathetic, NMTs are accustomed to blending compassion with goal setting. All basic MassageTherapy Program teach medical terminology, however NMTs use this vocabulary everyday while communicating with other health care providers. Explaining what is occurring in the body at times with medical terminology creates a sense of deep trust in the patient/client and gives them a sense of relief that they have chosen a qualified professional.


Common maladies that a NMT will treat are strains, sprains, edema, joint injury such as rotator cuff injuries or frozen shoulder plantar fasciitis, tension headaches, torticollis, reoccurring spasms or cramps due to excess muscular tension, nerve impingements such as sciatica caused by excess muscular tension, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and other forms of tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon).  If the pain is muscular related massive success has been found in utilizing NMT work resulting in complete elimination of pain in just 3-4 sessions or less.

Regular Maintenance

Once the patient/client has been rehabilitated they may enter into a maintenance program. Some NMTs are willing and able to accept reoccurring visits after the initial injury. This depends on where they work. Some clinics only treat acute injuries and you will not have access to the NMT after you have been discharged. Others work in a private practice where they have the freedom to continue seeing their patients/clients if requested.
If you agree to a maintaince program it is beneficial because life is unpredictable and ever changing; so is the constant effort for the mind and body to maintain health and balance. Often times a person is unaware of how their body is holding stress and for good reason. If we were to be constantly aware of what is hurting at all times, we would never leave our bed! However, occasional signals will manifest that we choose not to focus on because of life’s responsibilities. It is the role of the Neuromuscular Massage Therapist to pinpoint small areas of collected muscular tension to prevent future injuries that could lead to a severe strain. All of this is preventive care; the additional training a Neuromuscular Massage Therapist will allow them to help your muscles move and function the way they were meant to.

Time to Relax

Most NMTs are well trained on how to provide relaxation massage techniques as well. If they are willing to do and incorporate these techniques you have found the best of both worlds. Think of a basic relaxation massage as the most minimal of training for a Massage Therapist and NMT one of the most challenging. If you choose to partner with an NMT that also offers relaxation massage then you’ll be in the hands of someone that can care for you the next time you have muscular pain without fretting about seeking a competent therapist. If your NMT chooses to only work with injury then may I suggest having both a relaxation and NMT in your contact list to always be assured you have the massage you need.
Michelle Orchid Rodriguez is a wellness lifestyle blogger and a Licensed Massage Therapist. Her mission is to promote a higher quality of life through healthy living. She is the founder and CEO of Lumina Massage Inc., a Miami-based specialty massage company that focuses on neuromuscular therapy and prenatal bodywork. 


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