So soft tissue therapy, what is this all about? Massage therapy – no not in its entirety, Sports massage? – no so much more than that. Physiotherapy – no, often mistaken for physiotherapists we do not have a BSc and the ability to diagnose like Physiotherapists (which is also a protected title. However that’s not to say that Physiotherapists do not rate the services of a Soft Tissue Therapy, they do. So if that’s not what we are, what skills do we have and when is the appropriate time to see your Soft Tissue Therapist?
A Soft Tissue Therapist has a high degree of hands on expertise in working with soft tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons) working to level 5 qualified. A level 5 Soft Tissue Therapist (according to the ISRM), rather than giving routine massages, massages of relaxation or purely someone who gives a deeper massage to aid and prepare an athlete i.e. Sports Massage, is able to assess, treat and offer rehabilitation advice for people suffering with a range of minor sports related injuries or other chronic injuries related to lifestyle.
Soft tissue therapy is often more than purely treating the injury itself but looking for reasons why it has occurred in the first place i.e. it is essential to get the bigger picture about the pain / discomfort clients are experiencing. Part of the assessment will involve movement, looking at posture, muscle strength and even a client’s gait for example – therefore treatment can offer more long-term improvements in physical well-being (ISRM).
So, what are the common things we might support?
Most soft tissue related concerns will benefit greatly from seeing a Soft Tissue Therapist. Typically, I might see the following (but by no means an exhaustive list)
- Neck pain or muscular related headaches
- Back pain, spasms, sciatic related symptoms caused by muscular concerns i.e. tight glutes
- Hip problems, reported lack of strength often related to trigger points (taut bands radiating pain in the muscle tissue and explained here)
- Recovery from muscular strains (hamstring and quadriceps are common in runners) and ligament sprains, tendonitis and RSI related injuries
- Unknown pain related to chronic health conditions i.e. fibromyalgia
- Other common injuries relating to sports/day to day life i.e. shin splints, jumpers knee to name a few to the onset of muscle pain whilst exercising to ‘when I do this my hip hurts’.
Back, neck and muscle problems according to the Office for National Statistics cost the UK economy £14bn a year and 31 m days off work – all justifying the increase in soft tissue work.
In using a combined level of massage and advanced massage-based techniques: fascial work, soft tissue release, muscle energy techniques and kinesiology taping – often you can see a release of muscular tension and associated pain, improved circulation that improves healing and recovery, enhanced motor control, postural realignment and physical and psychological relaxation. (link)
The right time to come? 48 hours post the onset of injury after the acute phase.