Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) St. John Style History

With a foothold planted in both holistic and traditional medicine, NMT emerged in both Europe and North America almost simultaneously over the last 80 years. It is interesting to note that the early developers knew little, if anything, about each other, yet the theoretical basis of all the modern protocols are similar since they are each rooted soundly in scientific, neurological laws and principles.

Raymond Nimmo

Raymond Nimmo, DC (1904-86) was a 1926 Palmer Chiropractic graduate and the definitive pioneer in trigger point therapy (originally call Receptor-Tonus (RT) technique). He spent 30 years refining his approach of trigger points being dealt with through the nervous system via the soft tissue. Up to this time, no one had ever adequately explained the science of pain origination through the nervous system. His work has stood the test of time by later pioneers.

Boris Chaitow and Stanley Lief

Boris Chaitow DC, DO, ND (1907-1995) and Stanley Lief (1897-1963) were cousins both trained in osteopathy and naturopathy, who integrated assessment and treatment steps for soft tissue dysfunction. Between the mid-1930s and early 1940s, their European-style neuromuscular techniques (as NMT was called in Europe) first emerged.

Leon Chaitow, whose father was brother to Boris Chaitow, was one of many osteopaths and naturopaths that have taken part in the evolution and development of European neuromuscular techniques. NMT, now taught widely in osteopathic and sports massage settings in Britain.
A few years after neuromuscular techniques emerged in Europe, Raymond Nimmo (and James Vannerson) first published the newsletter, “Receptor Tonus Techniques”, in America, where they wrote of their experiences with what they termed ‘noxious nodules’.

Janet G Travell MD and David Simons MD

Over the next several decades, a step-by-step system began to emerge, supported by the writings of Janet G Travell MD and David Simons MD. Travell and Simons’ two volume set of textbooks “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual” provided the medical, dental, massage and other therapeutic communities with documentation, research and references for myofascial trigger points.

Paul St. John

Based on Nimmo’s work, several of his students began using his information to teach others, most notably Paul St John, who developed his own system beginning in the late 70’s. His unique protocols were developed by necessity in order to find pain relief for injuries he sustained as a Green Beret medic in Vietnam, and at home from being hit by a drunk driver. The success of his system opened the door for others to learn his distinctive and dynamic system, now called Neurosomatics (NST). He is presently based in Clearwater, Florida and still active in practice and teaching.

Judith Delany and Leon Chaitow

In 1984, Judith (Walker) Delany became an instructor of the St. John Method of Neuromuscular Therapy, assisting in the development of NMT techniques and protocols for massage therapy application. In 1989, she went off on her own and developed NMT – American version.

In 1996, a landmark event for American NMT occurred when NMT – American version was overviewed in Leon Chaitow’s Modern Neuromuscular Techniques, as contributed by Judith DeLany. This significant text was the first to offer both the European and American methods within the same volume.

Chaitow and DeLany have since published three definitive texts integrating the American and European versions of NMT, which aims to standardize the training of NMT techniques. In Ireland, the National Training Centre (NTC) , in association with Chaitow, DeLany, and John Sharkey, introduced the first formal course of studies providing a National Qualification Scheme at both certificate and masters degree program levels in NMT.

John Sharkey

John Sharkey, Exercise Physiologist and Exercise and Nutrition Scientist, is the founder of European Neuromuscular Therapy and European Medical Exercise (the rehabilitative component of NMT). In 2000, NMT history was made at the Sydney Olympic Games when he became the first Neuromuscular Therapist to be included in an Olympic medical team as a fully accredited Olympic medical team member.