Manual manipulation vs. neuromuscular training

A basic understanding of muscle tone recognizes that the seat of control of muscles and movement is not muscles, but the brain, not "muscle memory" but "movement memory", not "posture" but habitual or learned movement patterns.

Lasting changes in muscle tone require movement training at the neurological (i.e., brain) level, something that manual manipulation of muscles accomplishes, at best, slowly, but which can be achieve quickly by somatic education, a discipline that rapidly alters habitual posture, movement, and muscle tone through an internal learning process.

More at http://somatics.com/movement.htm and http://somatics.com/stretch.htm along with clinical applications.

in reference to: What is Neuromuscular Therapy? (view on Google Sidewiki)

Trigger Point Therapy

This writing will interest you if
  • You've had unsuccessful trigger point therapy.
  • You have chronic muscle tension.
  • You have mysterious pains that defy diagnosis.
The "new and entirely different" approach I describe here can dissolve trigger points permanently in minutes, restore your comfort of movement, and make you independent of therapy and therapists.

In this piece, I'll explain what causes trigger points, discuss the common therapeutic approaches used to eradicate trigger points, and present a newly available approach to trigger points that works quickly and decisively where other methods produce slow, partial, or temporary improvements.  Then, I'll show where you can get access to the newly available approach.

TRIGGER POINTS EXPLAINED
Trigger points are pressure points in muscles that are very tight and sufficiently sore to to trigger tension and pain in other muscles linked to them in patterns of coordination.  That's what makes them "trigger" points.  "Patterns of coordination" means complex movements (e.g., walking) that involve multiple muscles.  Simple enough?

The term, "trigger point", was coined by Dr. Janet Travell (physician to President John F. Kennedy, who had chronic back pain from an injury sustained during wartime on the boat, PT-109).  Dr. Travell did a masterful job of mapping out the relation of these points to pain felt at distant points in the body.  However, only in the past twenty years has a clinical approach been available that equalled Dr. Travells insights, and that approach has yet to become mainstream.

TECHNIQUES FOR ERADICATING TRIGGER POINTS
The common techniques for eradicating trigger points are based upon a mechanical view of the body and of muscles.  Muscles with trigger points are considered by therapists to be "stuck" and certain common therapeutic techniques used are said to "break" trigger points, generally by working on the muscles or trigger points, themselves.

This approach to trigger points fails to apply the basic facts of muscular control --  that the center of control of muscle tension (tone) is the brain (not muscles, themselves) -- and that muscle tone is learned and alterable by experience, and that once learned, becomes so automatic that it may seem to be permanently set.  However, it's understandable since, until relatively recently, no effective way existed to apply neurophysiological knowledge about muscular function to a therapeutic approach, and all that was available were more primitive approaches based upon massage techniques and drug therapy.

Common therapeutic approaches to trigger points operate as if the source of muscular tension is the muscle, itself; therapeutic approaches based on this view produce poor and unreliable therapeutic outcomes that lead to the need for repeated therapeutic interventions.

Here's the correct understanding of trigger points:  they are pressure points in habitually tight muscles -- caused to be tight by brain-conditioning (generally from injury or stress).  Trigger points are caused by brain conditioning, not by muscles, themselves.  So, muscles are not "stuck", but responding actively and in the moment to what the brain is telling them to do;  trigger points do not exist as a result of mechanical stuckness of muscles; they exist as habitual states of muscular overactivity.

A therapeutic approach based upon this understanding acts not upon the muscles, themselves, but upon the brain-level conditioning that causes chronic muscle tension and trigger points.  Such an approach produces decisively reliable results that typically do not require repeating.

Let's review the common therapeutic approaches to trigger points.

Therapeutic attempts to eradicate trigger points take two approaches:

  1. mechanical pressure
  2. injections of salt water (saline solution)
MECHANICAL PRESSURE
Therapists using the "mechanically stuck" model attempt to get trigger points to release by applying manual pressure to trigger points.  The idea is to deprive "triggered" muscles of blood flow, and by so doing, to get the muscles to a state of fatigue, so they let go and lose their trigger points.

Such an approach produces a temporary disappearance of a trigger point.  The trigger point re-appears soon thereafter (much as with ordinary massage) because no change of brain level conditioning has occurred.  (The one advantage of "trigger point therapy" over massage is the recognition of the relation between trigger points and pain at a distance from them.)

SALINE (SALT) SOLUTION INJECTIONS
Injections of this type produce heightened sensation in the involved muscles, which sends a signal to the brain that the muscle is more contracted than it really is.  The brain, which regulates muscle tension "by feel" (sensation), allows muscle tension to decrease to the level or intensity of sensation to which the brain has become accustomed.  At this lower level of tension, trigger points disappear.

For obvious reasons, the results of this approach are also temporary.

Both methods (manual pressure and injections) treat the muscle as the problem and the trigger point as the target of therapy; both overlook the fact that, since the basic function of muscles is to produce movement, a change of how the brain regulates movement is necessary to change how the brain regulates muscle tension.

The answer to trigger points may be an unexpected one, but it's obvious from a moment of consideration:  movement education.  Movement education teaches regulation of muscle tone (tension) and of coordination.

However, most methods of movement education are primitive and inadequate to decrease the conditioned level of muscle tone.  A more sophisticated approach is needed.

That's where somatic education comes in.

WHAT'S "SOMATIC"?  WHY "EDUCATION"?
The term, "somatic", derived from the Greek word, "soma" -- meaning "living body" -- means having to do with the living body, as experienced and controlled from within -- your experience of yourself, as you are to yourself.

"Education" means, "the process of developing our faculties or abilities".

So, "somatic education" means the process of developing our faculties as a living, self-aware embodied person.

Its special meaning, in the context of the discipline of clinical somatic education, has to do with gaining control of our own living processes, those otherwise treated with medicine or therapy.

The meaning of "somatic education" is different from a doctor or therapist "working upon" another or administering some treatment such as a drug, electrical stimulation, or injection, which are the methods of medicine and therapy.

Where trigger points are concerned, somatic education brings about improved self-control or self-regulation of our muscular system and movements.  The practical outcome is alleviation of condition muscular contractions that create trigger points to begin with, through gaining better control of our faculties of strength and movement.

THE TECHNIQUE
We learn control of muscles and movement, starting with learning to crawl and creep, stand and walk. 

The techniques of somatic education make use of this natural process of learning and to it, add techniques powerful enough to override and replace conditioning that keeps muscles tight and creates trigger points.   The process occurs far more quickly than the natural learning processes of movement -- and than the therapeutic approaches commonly applied to trigger points.

One of the major techniques involves an action pattern similar to yawning, but applied to varieties of movement and coordination.  In the clinical techniques, a lasting shift of muscular control and relaxation of muscular tensions occurs in less than one minute, for any movement pattern addressed.  A few repetitions over a period of minutes can restore highly contracted muscles to comfortable, natural rest, comfort, and full strength without the usual methods of manual manipulation, injections, stretching or strengthening -- and the changes are durable and long lasting.

Examples of the clinical techniques can be found on YouTube.com, channel "Lawrence9Gold"; a specific example, used to alleviate back pain, can be seen here.

GET A HANDLE on what's behind trigger points here
WIPE OUT YOUR OWN TRIGGER POINTS with somatic exercises: programs
good starting program here.

From here, nothing remains to be said, except, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."