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Complementary Therapy (ASCT)

The Active School of

17 Frederick Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3BH

email: admin@ukmassagecourses.com

Tel 1: 01509 551513 Tel 2: 07971 192787

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In the ever evolving field of massage therapy education, with new techniques evolving due to research in the field, the increased experience of senior practitioners, and the introduction of skills ‘borrowed’ from other Complementary practices, there comes a need to adjust the emphasis and balance of training content. This is reflected in the change

Soft Tissue Therapy v Sports Massage

An (adapted) communication from Mel Cash*

What is Soft Tissue Therapy?

Wikipedia definition: “Soft tissue therapy (STT) is the assessment, treatment and management of soft tissue injury, pain and dysfunction primarily of the neuromusculoskeletal system.”

Remedial Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy (Mel Cash. Ebury Press 2012) is one of the few published textbooks with “Soft Tissue Therapy” in the title and this defines it in a very similar way; assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of minor and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

The ISRM has been developing their training programme for over 25 years with the continual aim of achieving better clinical care for all clients. In this way it is pioneering Soft Tissue Therapy, establishing it as a new category of clinical expertise in the UK.

The demand for Soft Tissue Therapy is immense because the techniques used consistently produce excellent results treating minor and chronic pains that almost everyone suffers with from time to time. People might assume that a Physiotherapist should deal with these injury problems but, despite the huge market, or maybe because of it, they do not. None of the advanced soft tissue techniques that are used to such great effect are included in their training. Instead Physiotherapy is now mainly exercise-based with very little hands-on therapy. Although the exercises may be good, without actually treating the soft tissue properly first they often have little effect. Soft Tissue Therapists and Physiotherapists work in very different ways even though they often treat similar conditions. People like receiving good hands-on treatment because it works well, feels good and can produce instantly noticeable improvements. ISRM is the only organisation in the UK that is teaching Soft Tissue Therapy in this way.

What is Sports Massage?

Wikipedia does not have a definition for Sports Massage and this is no surprise because it is just a name which has no real meaning. You cannot massage a sport, only a person who happens to do sport as part of their lifestyle. It is just massage with an emphasis on the techniques that may help athletes recover from, and prepare for sport. It does not involve any assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of specific injuries caused by sport or anything else. Sports massage training courses (Level 3 & 4) often give the impression that they are something more than this but in reality their training only covers this very limited scope of practice.   

Sports Massage therapists who try to make a living with this will inevitably get clients coming to them with injuries even though they have not been trained to assess, treat and rehabilitate these specific conditions. This means the client will be at risk of getting a poor or even harmful treatment. Also, because a therapist’s insurance is based on their qualification any claim for damages that could arise would not be covered if they have exceeded the limited scope of practice they were trained for.

Sports Massage is a job; Soft Tissue Therapy is a professional career.

Mel Cash

* In the UK, Mel Cash would be considered synonymous with Sports Massage, and one of the predominant authorities on the subject. Indeed, his texts on Sports Massage are considered obligatory reading on many Sports Massage courses:

Sports Massage

Sport and Remedial Massage Therapy

Advanced Remedial Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy

NB The syllabus of the ISRM/BTEC (Level 5) Professional Diploma in Soft Tissue Therapy offered by ISRM Associated Schools, more than adequately covers the essential elements required of a competent Soft Tissue Therapist working in private practice.

Need a Level 6 Qualification?

Message from Mel Cash