Three Powerful Healing Modalities:

Myofascial Release, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Craniosacral Therapy

Published October 1, 2019 by Jc Drobac

Myofascial Release Therapy, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Craniosacral Therapy are three powerful modalities therapists often incorporate into healing sessions. At WholeSelf, we incorporate these techniques into bodywork sessions as needed. Though you’ve probably heard of these therapy methods, how much do you actually know about them? Below, we’re going to explain each type of therapy, how it works, and the benefits of each of them so you’re never left wondering which types of therapy are best for you!



Myofascial Release Therapy (MRT)

What is it?

Myofascial (my-o-FASH-e-ul) Release is a manual therapy technique that focuses on pain believed to arise from myofascial tissues. Myo means muscles, and fascial refers to fascia, the connective tissues—or membranes—that surround our muscles and envelop our entire bodies. Fasciae also play a key role in regulating our immune systems. Inflammation, fibrosis, and thickening of our fascia can limit our range of motion and cause pain.


How does it work?

Myofascial Release Therapy involves locating the myofascial areas that feel stiff and fixed instead of elastic and movable, under light manual pressure. This therapy eliminates pain caused by muscles or other connective tissues that are “tied down” by tight fascia. These areas are thought to restrict muscle and joint movements, which contributes to widespread muscle pain. Additionally, damaged fascial tissue can contribute to pain at “trigger points” that restrict blood flow to nearby areas, causing the damage to spread.


The focused manual pressure and stretching used in myofascial release techniques relaxes and lengthens muscles and soft tissues, loosening up restricted movement and leading to reduced pain and improved function and flexibility. More specifically, pain is reduced by improving range of motion and increasing blood and lymphatic flow, which can decrease inflammation in the body.

What symptoms or conditions might improve or benefit from MRT treatments?

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Injuries due to poor shoulder or hip alignment
  • Those seeking improved sports performance
  • Those undergoing surgery may opt for MFR treatment before a procedure to improved muscular and skeletal alignment, assisting in quicker recovery.

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)

What is it?

Neuromuscular therapy (neuro, referring to the brain) focuses on relieving pain and dysfunction in specific areas in the body’s soft tissues. It attends to the muscular and nervous systems to address underlying causes of chronic pain. This medically oriented form of massage addresses trigger points (tender muscles points), circulation, nerve compression, postural issues, and biomechanical problems that can result from over-use or repetitive movement injuries.

How does it work?

NMT involves targeting areas of imbalance in the body and their specific muscles to restore balance in the joints and myofascial networks, supporting full-body integration. This can include Trigger Point Therapy (TPT), which is the treatment of noxious pain points ("knots") in the muscles and fascia, as a result of trauma to the muscle fibers. Sometimes referred to as myofascial trigger point therapy, its goal is to treat pain-related conditions.

What symptoms/conditions could benefit from NMT treatment?

  • Headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Low back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tinnitus
  • Migraines
  • Sciatica
  • Sports injuries

Craniosacral Therapy (CST)

What is it, and how does it work?

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a type of bodywork that relieves compression in the bones of the head (cranium), the sacrum (a triangular bone in the lower back), and the spinal column. CST is noninvasive, and uses gentle pressure on the head, neck, and back, especially along the suture lines of the cranium, to relieve the stress and pain caused by compression. It’s thought that through the gentle manipulation of the bones in the skull, spine, and pelvis, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system can be normalized. This removes “blockages” from the normal flow and cranial mobility, enhancing the body’s ability to heal, soothing pain, and releasing both emotional and physical stress and tension.

Would I benefit from a craniosacral therapy session?

Many massage therapists, physical therapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors are able to perform craniosacral therapy. It can be integrated into an already-scheduled session or the sole purpose for your appointment. Depending on what you’re using CST to treat, you may benefit from multiple sessions to treat specific issues or for maintenance.

Craniosacral therapy is extremely gentle and can be used for people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. It may be part of your treatment for conditions like…

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Sisturbed sleep cycles and insomnia
  • Scoliosis
  • Sinus infections
  • Neck pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Recurrent ear infections or colic in infants
  • TMJ
  • Trauma recovery, including trauma from whiplash
  • Mood disorders like anxiety or depression
  • Difficult pregnancies
  • Autism

We integrate all three of these powerful modalities—Myofascial Release Therapy, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Craniosacral Therapy—into our massage sessions as needed.


Curious about other modalities we practice? We’ll be releasing more information soon about other excellent modalities: cupping, deep tissue massage, shiatsu, Swedish massage, pre and post-natal massage, foot reflexology, myoskeletal alignment, specialized kinesiology, and lymphatic drainage. Join our email list below to stay updated!

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