“There is nothing new under the sun… or moon either for that matter. Everything was always here in one form or another. Dr. Travell says Myotherapy was born of serendipity. Dr. Tivy says it came about because known facts were seen from a different angle… without the limitations imposed by long training in one field to the exclusion of knowledge in most others.
Whatever the elements gathered during its gestation, whatever or whoever is responsible for its birth, Myotherapy is here now, for you to use. Use it in good health.”
—Bonnie Prudden from Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way
A Bit of History
- 300 A.D China: Huang Fu’s clinical treatise on acupuncture described the method of inserting needles into subcutaneous muscle structure.
- 1930s Germany: Hans Lange uses a sclerometer to prove that tender areas in muscles are 50% harder than surrounding areas.
- 1930s Austria: Orthopedist, Hans Kraus, along with Austria’s Olympic Trainer, Heinz Kowalski develop Therapeutic Exercise. Dr. Kraus immigrates to America.
- 1940s United States: Janet Travell, M.D. develops Trigger Point Injection Therapy. Lange’s “tender areas” become known as “trigger points.”
- The two valid medical disciplines, therapeutic exercise and injections, complement each other as Trigger Point Injections are followed by passive muscle stretching exercise facilitated by muscle-relaxing coolant sprays: Ethyl-Chloride and Fluori-Methane.
- 1976 United States: Bonnie Prudden, exercise specialist, researcher, author, and TV and radio personality finds that non-invasive pressure to trigger points using fingers, knuckles and elbows, followed by specific corrective movement, produces superior results to those engendered by injections, followed by “spray and stretch.”
- 1978 United States: London University graduate, internist, Desmond Tivy, M.D., coins the name MYOTHERAPY to describe Bonnie Prudden’s method.
- 1980 United States: Bonnie Prudden authors the New York Times national best-seller, Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, with the Foreword and Afterword by Dr. Desmond Tivy, and establishes The Bonnie Prudden School for Physical Fitness and Myotherapy. This is the first book on “trigger point therapy.” It chronicles the development and techniques as developed by Bonnie Prudden. The word “myotherapy” has become generic and now can mean anything having to do with muscle therapy. Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy becomes a registered trademark. Bonnie Prudden’s name preceding the word “myotherapy” indicates it is the original Pain Erasure technique discovered in 1976 and reported in her books.
- 1984 United States: Bonnie Prudden authors Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain Free Living Afterword by Dr. Desmond Tivy.
- 1986 United States: Bonnie Prudden authors Bonnie Prudden’s After Fifty Fitness Guide, with the Foreword by Robert N Butler, M. D.
The three books listed above — with their Forewords and Afterword by Dr. Tivy and Dr. Butler — put Myotherapy into the capable hands of the general public.
In order for Myotherapy to be born, Bonnie Prudden had to know three of the many pioneering contributors. In the order in which she met them, they are: Dr. Hans Kraus in 1938, Dr. Janet Travell in 1969, and Dr. Desmond Tivy in 1970.
Bonnie met Kraus in 1938 when she and her husband were rock climbing in the Shawangunks, near New Paltz, NY. The Austrian orthopedist began teaching her therapeutic corrective exercises in 1943. In the early 1950s, Bonnie worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, New York University-Bellevue Medical Center. This entailed working with medically referred patients and teaching them corrective exercises to enhance recovery after operations or trigger point injection therapy. This was done in connection with research under the direction of Dr. Kraus.
In 1969 Bonnie met Dr. Janet Travell. Dr. Travell had been mapping trigger points and referred pain patterns since the early 1940s. At age 55 Bonnie visited Travell because she was experiencing hip pain. At age 23 Bonnie had fractured her hip in four places during a skiing accident. She hoped the trigger point injections would solve her lingering pain problem. They didn’t — but they did make it possible for her to be more comfortable while convincing physicians to perform the fairly new Charnley hip replacement on a very active 56-year-old woman. When she died forty-one years later, it was still working perfectly.
Bonnie was introduced to Dr. Tivy in 1970. Over the years they developed a comfortable working relationship. He would perform trigger point injections, then send patients to Bonnie who would locate other trigger points and send the patients back to Dr. Tivy for injections. The patients would then return to Bonnie for corrective therapeutic follow-up exercises to be done at home.
By 1976, Bonnie had been working with doctors for 27 years in the capacity of Exercise Therapist and Researcher. At that time her work consisted of locating Trigger Points, which were then injected by a medical doctor according to Dr. Travell’s system.
“One memorable day, while searching for elusive trigger points causing a stiff neck, I found a key point. The patient’s neck snapped up to the normal position and as the spasmed muscles returned to their resting length, all pain disappeared…a lucky accident had occurred. I had discovered pressure from outside the skin was as effective as that exerted through the skin. Invasion wasn’t necessary. Granted it was only the first step, but then every journey begins that way.”
Over the next four years Bonnie and her staff practiced on one another, and on as many others who would let them. Trial and error, weekly staff meetings comparing results, and trying various techniques and ideas all led to the development of a system — Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® — which could be taught simply and effectively to almost anyone. And in 1980 following a prototype school, Bonnie established the school known as the Bonnie Prudden School for Physical Fitness and Myotherapy.
“He [Dr. Tivy] watched my ideas at work, sent me patients and backed me up. It was he who coined the word Myotherapy.” Dr. Tivy observed Prudden’s development of Myotherapy for over a period of ten years, and testified that her “methods and results are, in general, remarkable, largely predictable, and safe.”
The Bonnie Prudden School began on a summer afternoon when four women were sunning themselves. There were dreams of “We will start with the promise that education does not have to be dull, boring, stupid, worthless, non-applicable to reality, nor taught by uninspired drudges benumbed by what they are required to teach…” “There must be laughter and students who want to come to school…”
The original Bonnie Prudden School (a 1300 hour course) was established to provide the necessary background to prepare Exercise Therapists and Myotherapists to work with people of all ages and abilities. It included Anatomy and Physiology, Life Drawing and Life Sculpture, Modern Dance, Business, Nutrition, Communication, Mime, Myotherapy, Student Clinic, Massage, and exercise for all ages and abilities — from baby swim and gym and pre-sport through oldsters and the physically and mentally challenged. Anyone who attended that school will tell you that it was a life changing experience, and that it still a most memorable, productive and happy time in their life. and that the skills learned are forever valuable and applicable.
BUT times have changed, student population and needs have changed and technology has changed…
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.
Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®