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Myotherapy is a method for relieving pain based on the application of pressure at trigger points throughout the body. Trigger points are defined as hypersensitive locations in the muscles that cause pain in response to undue stress . They may be caused by occupational or other injuries as well as by disease, physical stress, and emotional stress. Trigger points rarely occur in the same location where the pain is felt. Myotherapy is founded on the notion that relief of tension in the muscle followed by revitalization of the relieved muscle through stretching, promotes healing and reduces the disposition of the muscle and the nerve to cause further pain.


Myotherapy developed out of trigger point therapy , a method of pain relief developed by Dr. Janet Travell. Fitness expert Bonnie Prudden decided to investigate certain parallels that she perceived between the injection of pain relievers into nerve locations in trigger point therapy and the potential to relieve pain similarly through external physical pressure on the nerve points. She spent approximately four years investigating and experimenting with the idea. During that time she studied anatomy and developed a new pain relief therapy that she named myotherapy. Its name is derived from the Greek prefix "myo," meaning muscle. Within 10 years she had established a certified training program for myotherapy technicians.


Fitness expert Bonnie Prudden was born on January 29, 1914, in New York City. She attended Columbia University Extension School, Grand Central School of Art, and Weidman-Humphrey School of Dance. Prudden served as the director of both the ski patrol and Red Cross disaster units in New York State from 19391949. She founded and directed the Institute for Physical Fitness in White Plains, New York in 1950.

Prudden came to the attention of the American public in 1955 after she used the Kraus-Weber test to assess the physical fitness levels of children worldwide. Prudden's test results revealed that 58% of American children were unfit and scored worse than the children of underdeveloped nations. She presented her test results to President Dwight Eisenhower, and her actions ultimately inspired what has come to be called the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport.

During the era before videotape, Prudden released six exercise recordings and authored 19 books on fitness. She hosted the first nationally televised exercise show and established physical fitness programs at schools, hospitals, and other institutions. Prudden, the mother of two daughters, was credited with inventing the first pre- and post-natal exercise programs for women. Additionally, over 500,000 babies learned rudimentary water skills as a result of her mother and baby, swim and gym classes.

Prudden altered her focus in 1976 when she discovered the theory of myotherapy, the use of applying pressure to trigger points in the body to lessen muscle spasms and pain and to improve circulation. In 1979, after some investigation, she established the Bonnie Prudden Two-year School of Physical Fitness and Myotherapy. She explained the basics of myotherapy in her 1980 book, Pain Erasure, and later published Bonnie Prudden's Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living, followed by Fitness Guide for the After 50 Crowd. Additionally she presented seminars on the topic.

Bonnie Prudden has received many honors, including a Safety Award from Eastern Amateur Ski Association and a Service to Youth Award from Young Men's Christian Association.

Gloria Cooksey


Myotherapy is effective in eliminating 95% of all physical pain associated with muscular discomfort. It is successful in patients suffering from many types of head, back, and neck pain . It also relieves the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia , and arthritis. Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis experience reductions in swelling.

Athletes who undergo myotherapy often experience enhanced physical performance.


Myotherapy eliminates pain and swelling through the application of pressure at strategically located nerve locations called trigger points. The patient takes no internal medication. This treatment is in fact the only technique to alleviate muscle spasms that is not based on topical or internal medication.

Myotherapy treatment is a two-step process. The therapist first locates and diffuses the trigger points of pain through applying pressure to those locations. This process relieves the pain and also relaxes the muscles associated with the specific discomfort. Secondly, during the therapy session the patient undergoes a series of exercises to progressively stretch the muscles that have been relaxed by the pressure therapy. A typical patient needs fewer than 10 sessions before realizing the full benefits of this therapy.

The age of the patient who undergoes myotherapy is significant only in determining the number of trigger points that might cause muscle pain. Because trigger points accumulate over time, older patients have usually developed more trigger points.


As with most treatments this pain relief technique should not be undergone without a physical examination by a qualified doctor or technician. Patients should seek clearance for treatment from a general practitioner or (M.D.), osteopath (D.O.), doctor of podiatric medicine (D.P.M.), doctor of chiropractic (D.C.), doctor of naturopathic medicine (N.M.D.), registered nurse practitioner (R.N.P.), or physical therapist (P.T.) before myotherapy treatment. Patients who undergo myotherapy to relieve the discomfort of temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) or other facial pain should consult a dentist (D.D.S.) for a clearance examination. Preparatory examination is necessary to determine that there is no structural anatominal problem causing the pain, because problems of this nature require medical treatment that cannot be replaced by myotherapy.

To benefit fully from myotherapy, the patient should have a positive attitude and willingness to give up any emotional investment in the pain syndrome. Myotherapy requires full commitment to the therapy sessions and an attitude of self-healing to bring about relief.


To facilitate recuperation from pain relief, myotherapy patients are advised to involve a relative, friend, or other trusted acquaintance to learn the technique and the patient's personal pressure points. This buddy system allows the patient to renew the effects of the myotherapy sessions in the event of a relapse.

Side effects

There are no known side effects from myotherapy. For anatomical pathology patients, however, medical attention is necessary before seeking myotherapy treatment. This examination is crucial in order to eliminate any physical abnormalities that may be the source of the patient's discomfort.

The benefit of enhanced athletic performance may be a positive side effect of myotherapy treatment.

Research & general acceptance

Although many myotherapists operate as self-employed practitioners in private clinics, certified myotherapists are respected employees in hospitals, doctors' offices, dental offices, and clinics. There is a wide network of doctors who are familiar with the beneficial effects of myotherapy that legitimizes this form of treatment within the medical community.

Training & certification

Certified myotherapists undergo a two-year program of education and training in preparation for certification. After the completion of the training regimen, the candidate must pass a board examination in order to receive official recognition as a Certified Bonnie Prudden Myotherapist. The training sessions total 1,300 hours prior to the board certification examination. A program of continuing education involving 45 hours of enrichment and update training on a bi-annual basis is required in order to retain myotherapist credentials.



Bonnie Prudden's Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living. New York: Dial Press, 1984.

Pain Erasure: The Bonnie Prudden Way. New York: M. Evans, 1980.


Bonnie Prudden Pain Erasure Clinic and School for Physical Fitness and Myotherapy. P.O. Box 65240. Tucson, AZ 85728. (520) 529-3979. Fax: (520) 529-6679.

Gloria Cooksey