Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy?

Now that I've finished the first level of training for Erik Dalton's Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy from the Freedom from Pain Institute, I find a need to explain what the heck that means to people. Until a year ago, I had never heard of that specific massage modality and have only heard of it since when I have specifically searched for it myself. I don't foresee anyone asking for it by name anytime soon.

I chose the class because of Dalton's reputation for scholarly, research based, results based live seminars and his many years of experience developing and practicing these techniques. Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy (MAT) is the system he developed.

If you go to a Certified Myoskeletal Alignment Therapist for a massage treatment, you should expect a methodical, well planned, deep tissue massage that aims to create muscular balance and optimal movement in the body. As a "Posture and Pain Specialist" I would focus more specifically on the muscles of the spine to create comfortable mobility in the hips, sacrum, lumbar (low back), thoracic (mid-back), and cervical (neck) areas. The techniques are targeted to very specific needs, unlike other massage modalities that aim to be symmetrical and all-inclusive. MAT is also not going to chase the pain- meaning that treatment may be in an unexpected area to fix a larger issue. For example, the Psoas, Quads and Adductors of the leg may need attention when the symptomatic pain is in the low back. A MAT therapist will work out the areas that will get the results, not just temporarily soothe the painful low back.

Clearly, as a massage therapist, I do not manipulate the bones directly and do not expect to "crack" backs, like a Chiropractor or Orthopedist. But a Myoskeletal treatment should complement the work of those other professionals. The techniques do involve direct pressure on the muscles directly on and around the vertebrae, so the feel of receiving the treatment may be more similar to a DC adjustment than a typical massage feel- nothing like Swedish massage.

It will typically take several treatments, within a plan developed individually, depending on each client's needs, to get lasting results. Aside from my obvious bias to sell my new skill, I really believe these are powerful, meaningful techniques which have already brought significant healing to several of my clients.

Here is an example of the treatment protocol for head forward posture:


  1. Thank you for this article. I am in my final stretch to obtaining my diploma in Sports and Medical Massage and am try to decide what extended education path I want to take to specialize. I am leaning toward Myoskeletal Alignment or Craniosacral and am trying to research both to help with my decision.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I am looking to take my massage business to the next level by specifying my treatment plans and this seems to be exactly what I've been looking for.

    Thank you,

    Kristi Diephof LMT