A Historical Overview of Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®

“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

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:  Dr. 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 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.

1980 United States.  Bonnie Prudden authors Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way Foreword and Afterword by Dr. Desmond Tivy and establishes The Bonnie Prudden School for Physical Fitness and Myotherapy

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.  Foreword by Robert N Butler, M. D.

These three books with Forewords and Afterword by Dr. Tivy and Dr. Butler put Myotherapy into the capable hands of the general public.

The Pioneers

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, New Paltz, NY. The Austrian orthopedist began teaching her therapeutic corrective exercises in 1943.  As Research Assistant at the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, New York University-Bellevue Medical Center Bonnie, in the early 50s, worked with medically referred patients 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 40s. At age 55 Bonnie visited Travell because of hip pain. At age 23 Bonnie had fractured her pelvis in four places during a ski accident. She hoped that 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. Forty one years later, when she died it was still working perfectly.

Bonnie was introduced to Dr. Tivy in 1970. Over the years they developed a comfortable working relationship.  He was performing trigger point injections and sent patients to Bonnie who would locate the trigger points and send them back to Dr. Tivy for injections. The patient would then return to Prudden 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.

Of Dr. Tivy Bonnie said… “He watched my ideas at work, sent me patients and backed me up. It was he who coined the word Myotherapy.” Over a period of ten years Dr. Tivy observed Prudden’s development of Myotherapy 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 was 1300 hours and 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….

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