Myotherapy can be defined as “the evidence-based assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal pain and associated conditions” (myotherapy.org.au). In other words, myotherapy is a profession within the allied health field that aims to treat musculoskeletal pathologies using not only manual therapy of muscle and fascial tissue (massage) but also a range of other modalities such as, Myofascial Dry Needling, Corrective Exercise prescription, Thermal techniques, Postural Assessment and Correction and Activity and/or Lifestyle Modification.
These modalities as well as others will be used and prescribed in conjunction with each other in an effort to provide clients with the more effective treatment and condition management plan than manual therapy can achieve alone.
A few of the key aims and features of a myotherapy treatment.
A key principle of myotherapy is to treat not only the symptoms that a client is experiencing but also to find and treat the root cause of the symptoms. To achieve this myotherapists will use a range of tests and physical examinations at the start, end and usually throughout a treatment. These test not only help to identify the source of a client’s pain or dysfunction but also aid in assessing the effectiveness of the treatment being provided and allow for the changes in the condition of be tracked over multiple treatments.
In addition to treating muscle tissue myotherapy also focuses on treating fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that encases both individual muscles as well as muscle groups and joints. Fascial layers can easily become bound or intertwined with each other, leading to the inhibition of free and easy movement muscle, muscle groups, joints and nerves. As is such myotherapists will often target this tissue during treatments to improve and return the movement and function of these structures.
The treatment of muscle tissue will often involve the treatment or relaxation of “Trigger Points”, more commonly known as knots.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is commonly described as a “hyperirritable bundle of muscle fibres, usually found within a taunt band of muscle.” Better understood as a sore spot within a tight muscle. Some common causes of trigger points are over use of a muscle (or muscle group), direct trauma and sustained pressure over a period of time.
The exact physiological cause of trigger points is not known; however a couple of the leading theories centre around the hypothesis that trigger points are stimulated by an inadequate blood supply to a specific section of muscle tissue, which prevents the removal or reuptake of calcium following the contraction of a sarcomere(s)1. The continued presence of calcium prevents the sarcomere(s) from relaxing or “switching off”. The perpetually contracted muscle fibres then further prevents adequate blood supply to the area and the physiological conditions that creates and maintains trigger points continues.