Myotherapy is a form of physical therapy that assists with the assessment, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal pain and restricted joint mobility. Myotherapy was developed based on the principles of trigger point therapy to treat myosfascial pain – a condition which effects the connective tissue causing dysfunction and pain of muscles and ligaments.
What is myofascia you ask?
Myofascia is fibrous tissue surrounding all your muscles and other structures of the body. It helps to maintain posture, range of motion and flexibility. When in a healthy state is relaxed and soft, and has the ability to move and be stretched without restriction. Injury, stress or just poor posture can have accumulative effects on the myofascia leading to symptoms such as pain, headaches, and restriction of movement and flexibility.
What is Myotherapy?
Myotherapists primarily use massage as their main tool, however, treatment options may consist of trigger point therapy, joint mobilisation, cupping, passive stretching, myofascial dry needling, TENS, corrective exercise and rehabilitation programs, and pain management.
The philosophy of myotherapy is founded on Western medical principles including anatomy, physiology and biomechanics. Treatment depends on individual assessment but may include:
Myofascial Release: another very effective technique when applied with massage. Myofascial release aims to release the fascia that surrounds all muscles.
Dry Needling or trigger point therapy– when pressure or a needle is applied to a ‘knot’ in the muscle or the skin overlying trigger points. This aids in the release of these trigger points reducing pain and increasing range of movement.
Joint mobilisation: another technique that works well with massage. Spinal mobilisation uses a ballistic type action on joints of the spine, which increases the movement between each joint. Often the joints in the neck become stiff and can contribute to nerve impingements and muscle guarding which causes tension headaches/ migraines.
Heat therapy: Heat is used to increase blood flow to an area by opening up the blood vessels. Heat offers a similar effect to massage in that it helps to promote blood flow and lymph flow which brings healthy nutrients and oxygen to the injured site and assists in the removal of wastes and toxins in the blood. This helps reduce pain and muscle spasm. Applying superficial heat to the body can increase the soft tissues flexibility.
Cryotherapy: Can be used in inflammation or acute injuries when massage may be contraindicated. Cold does the opposite to heat and slows down the blood flow to an injured site, which helps reduce pain, spasm and inflammation. Hence it is very effective for areas that are swollen or bruised.
TENS therapy and electro-needling: TENS is the abbreviation for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Which is when Pads or needles are inserted onto or into muscles. It works by sending a current through the body to help reduce pain. It is useful with acute and chronic conditions.
Cupping: Cups are placed onto the skin either via heat or a suction gun. The cups, like massage increase the blood flow to the area aiding in healing the tissues. Cupping is also used for a range of other medical conditions by other health professionals.
Corrective exercises: Exercises that may be given to you to stretch or strengthen muscles and soft tissue- a vital element to the recovery of a lot of conditions.
Myofascial pain symptoms can include:
- deep and constant aching
- muscle tightness
- sore spots in the muscle (myofascial trigger points)
- reduced joint mobility
- stiff joints
- recurrent tingling, prickling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation.
What conditions do people see a myotherapist for?
The following are some examples:
- neck/shoulder pain
- back pain
- improving musculoskeletal health and function, injury prevention, and stress and tension reduction
- headaches or migraines
- injury management and rehabilitation
- acute Injury or pain conditions
- occupational overuse syndrome