Over the last 60 years, Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) has emerged as a significant methodology for assessing, treating and preventing soft tissue injuries and chronic pain. NMT, a series of treatment protocols based on the therapist’s skill, knowledge of anatomy and physiology and palpation skills, is being used every day in massage clinics, physical therapy settings, hospitals, nursing clinics and chiropractic settings around the world.
NMT is used at Vinny Mulvey Fitness for injury prevention and cure. I treat people with chronic long-standing pain, people with acute sudden pain, and people with occupational injuries.
NMT incorporates the work and research of a number of pioneers in the medical field. People such as DRs Janet Travel and David Simons, Leon Chaitow and Vladimir Janda. Listed below are some of the techniques I use to assess and treat sports injuries.
MUSCLE ENERGY TECHNIQUES
Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) can be applied to a range of acute and chronic conditions which can result in the following therapeutic outcomes:
- Restores functional length and tone of a muscle
- Strengthens muscle tissue
- Retrains appropriate funtion within a muscle
- Deactivates Mysofascial Trigger Points
- Prepares soft tissue structures prior to mobilisation of a joint
- Mobilises a restricted joint
- Enhances local circulation
- Rehabilitation and neuromuscular re-education of bad patterns of misuse i.e. posture and breathing dysfunction
MET can be applied in a variety of ways and each application may be fine tuned to suit the individuality of the patient and the condition of which they are presenting.
SOFT TISSUE RELEASE
Soft Tissue Release (STR), also known as Active Release Therapy (ART), is a dynamic, highly effective technique that has an immediate and powerful effect on muscle and connective tissue (Sanderson, 2002). It involves applying precise pressure during a specific movement, performed in a number of planes of motion. The goal is to provide a therapeutic effect to the autonomic, nervous and fascial systems in a way that leads to spontaneous release of the adhered tissues, thus lengthening the desired tissue(s).
The benefits of STR include:
- Contributes to a fast and permanent re-organisation of connective tissue, including scar tissue
- Assists the targeted muscle and tissues to be returned to their proper resting length
- Helps to rectify muscular imbalances
- Improves muscle performance
- Restores normal gliding function of fascial tissues
- Helps mobilise joints
Positional Release involves placing of a body part or tissues into any position, utilising any direction or additional vector (such as
compression, distraction, respiratory) into a position of greatest ease (Sharkey, J).
- Reduced stiffness in joint/muscle.
- Reduction of hypertonicity in tissues.
- Release of muscle spasm (whereby direct techniques are not tolerated).
- Reduction in muscle tone to enable a lengthening to follow.
- The treatment of whiplash, or other acute muscle strain injuries and soft tissue insults.
- Treatment of joints, where the hypertonic musculature is the primary restricting factor and manipulation is unwise, impractical or not available.
- Effective treatment for inflamed tissues.
- Deactivation of trigger points.
- Treatment for special populations to include pre/post operative patients and frail, delicate, hyper-sensitive individuals.
- Treatment options where manual methods may cause too much pain or discomfort.
MYOFASCIAL TRIGGER POINT RELEASE
According to Travell and Simons, a Trigger Point is defined as a “…hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band. The spot is tender when pressed, and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena..”
What this means is that a Trigger Point will present itself as a “knot” which is along a taut band, or a hard felt line along the skeletal muscle.
When a muscle presents with Trigger Points, it cannot lengthen and shorten as normal, and as such cannot function properly. A combination of the techniques mentioned on this page can help to deactivate Myofascial Trigger Points.
Apart from MET, I use a dynamic stretching routine, called Active Isolated Stretching. I learned this technique from Phil Wharton in New York City and implemented it into my own running career since 1998. I now use it regularly with my clients and the effects speak for themselves.
I usually assess my clients to see if they have a joint, muscular, ligament or tendon injury. By completing a differential diagnosis I am then able to establish whether I can treat the individual or if they need to be referred on to another practitioner such as a doctor or surgeon.
© NTC, Dublin & Vinny Mulvey Fitness