What is Myotherapy?

Master Myotherapist working on Bonnie Prudden®

About Myotherapy

"Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® is a method of relaxing muscle spasm, improving circulation and alleviating pain. To defuse "trigger points," pressure is applied to the muscle for several seconds by means of fingers, knuckles and elbows. The success of this method depends on the use of specific corrective exercise for the freed muscles. The method was developed by Bonnie Prudden in 1976." (Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary)

Bonnie Prudden® started developing Myotherapy in 1976. Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® has its origins in the medical discipline of trigger point injection therapy pioneered by Janet Travell, M.D., starting in the 1940’s, and therapeutic exercise and immediate mobilization developed by Dr. Hans Kraus.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® is a non-invasive method of relieving muscle related pain. Myotherapy relaxes muscles, thereby relieving pain and limited range of motion and improving circulation. Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® works by deactivating trigger points, then helping the affected muscles return to their natural resting length with specific range of motion and stretching exercises.

Trigger points are highly irritable spots in muscles which take up residence in the muscle when it is damaged at any time in life. When activated, trigger points can cause: pain, limited range of motion, circulatory problems, nervous system problems and weak or fatigued muscles. An activated trigger point causes the muscles to shorten and/or spasm. Trigger points become activated when undue stress, either physical and/or emotional, is present. When there is chronic pain, trigger points are constantly in flare, and a pain-spasm-pain cycle is present. Trigger points that have been in flare for a long time create a nerve pathway that tends to reinforce and perpetuate them.

Matrix Trigger Points are those that are usually laid down when the muscle is first damaged and sometimes they will refer pain to other areas of the body. Satellite trigger points do not refer pain when pressed on; they are laid down as a result of the Matrix firing up and causing the muscle fibers to shorten. Satellite trigger points, if not defused, can cause the Matrix trigger points to reactivate.

In Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, trigger points are deactivated with ischemic pressure. Bonnie Prudden® developed maps of the body to help determine where to locate trigger points for various parts of the body. Trigger Points are located by applying gentle pressure to the muscles and finding spots of extreme tenderness. Pressure is then held on the trigger point for 5-7 seconds.

The amount of pressure used is determined by the person on the table. Therapists ask their patients to rate the trigger points on a scale of one to ten, one being no pain and ten being excruciating pain. Therapists are looking for the pain level to be at about a six to seven, with the pain being at a comfortable level. The amount of pain will depend on the person on the table as well as from trigger point to trigger point. After an area of the body has been de-triggered, a passive stretch is done on the table to help return the muscle to its natural resting length. The patient is given Corrective Exercises to be done at home. This helps to keep the muscles free of spasm and pain.

Myotherapists take a detailed history which helps them determine where the trigger points are that are causing the patient's pain/dysfunction. The following are some of the parts of a patient's history that therapists look at:

Birth: How was the person born? Toes turned in, neck to the side, forceps?

Sports: Sports will lay down trigger points both by injuries occurring while playing as well as by the repetitive injury caused by perfecting the sport.

Occupations: How a person uses, misuses, or doesn’t use their muscles throughout the day can determine where trigger points are laid down.

Accidents: Any injury or trauma to the muscle will lay down trigger points, including the accidents that almost happen.

Some of the other questions to ask when taking a history are:

  • What musical instruments do you play?

  • What surgeries have you had?

  • What hobbies are you involved in?

  • What medications are you taking?

  • How long have you had the pain?

  • What makes it worse? What makes it better?

  • There are three levels to Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®: Quick-Fix, Basic Lines and Clean-Out lines.

Quick-Fix refers to the least number of points that can be deactivated and still be effective. It is used to relieve pain quickly and to seek out areas of possible involvement.

Basic Lines covers more muscle groups and involves more points in each area. It is used in an area where there is known involvement to deactivate as many trigger points as possible.

Clean-Out techniques are very specific techniques used when Quick-Fix and Basic lines relieve most of the pain/dysfunction, but not all of it. They involve extra points and lines as well as different angles and positions of locating and deactivating trigger points.