Is Soft Tissue Therapy just another phrase for Massage Therapy or is it for my...soft bits?
The SMA ( Association for Soft Tissue Therapists) describes Soft Tissue Therapy 'the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is applicable not just to sports people but to anybody wishing to guard against or recover from a soft tissue injury'.
What is Soft Tissue you ask?
Though the SMA has mentioned (but not limited it's explanation to) muscles, tendons and ligaments. Every tissue in the body is soft, and it is near impossible to change the tension, structure or shape of one tissue without having affect on the rest of the body. Muscles, tendons and ligaments are managed and manipulated by Soft Tissue Therapy as they are soft tissue but so are your cells, your viscera (organs), your fascia, your bones and your skin. So Soft Tissue Therapy addresses every tissue in your body using a number of techniques which may or may not include massage.
NB. Yes your bone is soft tissue. Though you may think of it as being hard there is a flexibility present. And due to it's softer inner structure it can be compressed and twisted as well as broken.
So Soft Tissue Therapy is what the SMA says it is and it does what the SMA says it does by incorporating an array of techniques which include (but are not limited too): Massage, Soft Tissue Release (STR) Active Release, Myofascial Release, Lymphatic Drainage, ScarWork, Dry Needling, Cupping, and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation (IASTM) . Within this (as within any treatment), each Soft Tissue Therapist will have a unique and individual way of delivering their service and no two Soft Tissue Therapy treatments will be the same.
How Do You Become a Soft Tissue Therapist?
Well I would say it's an organic process but that is my personal opinion....
Massage therapists are increasingly becoming more interested in different techniques that can be used to help heal the body. It is in developing your skills that Massage Therapy turns into Soft Tissue Therapy. Experiencing massage as a performer was my first experience of hands on-on-treatment. Weekly sessions with different therapists opened y body up to receiving a array of different treatments and this was where I really began to understand the difference between Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, Physiotherapy, Chiropractors and Osteopathy. I also had a few light rubs with too much oil and one woman who became fixated on my cellulite and told me she could rub it out.
Let's not entertain that last part there.
So as you can imagine I started to understand what it was that not only I felt my body wanted but what my body actually needed from a treatment, whether I was injured or not.
This is where Soft Tissue Therapy slots in perfectly.
Starting as a Sports Massage Therapist I wanted to explore where I could take my treatments. I was developing a thirst for understanding more and more not only what I was doing with my hands to help people but how I fit into the rehabilitation process in a more valuable way. I wanted to know how I could become more essential and more proficient in aiding recovery, reclamation and maintenance of the human body. What other services could I provide to the people on my table that were not confined to purely medicine nor purely holistic approaches?
Sports Massage already gave me the basics to understand injury prevention and some injury rehabilitation as well as techniques that separated me from a Deep Tissue Massage. I found I could work integratively with Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and Chiropractors so I started to gain experience in Physiotherapy clinics and I started to work within professional sport. I started learning new techniques and exploring new methods, watching videos, asking questions and taking courses and eventually, I started to move towards areas that I care about. This is what I believe started to separate me from a Massage Therapist to a Soft Tissue Therapist.
What Can Soft Tissue Therapy Help Me With?
Let's look at some of the things that a Soft Tissue Therapy may be able to help you with.
- Pain Management - Post Injury/Surgery Scar Reduction
- Injury Rehabilitation - Joint Mobilisation
- Surgical Rehabilitation - Lymphatic Drainage
- Stress Management - Pre/Postnatal Pelvic Discomfort
- Neuropathy - Muscular Recovery
Soft Tissue Therapy is useful for:
- Treating the body post-injury facilitaing recovery.
- Treating the body pre-surgery to reduce post-surcigal complications and pain.
- Complimenting training plans for races/events/games that you may be working towards, facilitating muscular recovery, muscular strength and overall performance.
- Providing recovery for the body post race/event/game that you have taken part in.
- Complimenting other therapists in rehabilitation as part of a Multi-Diciplinary Team (MDT) these include; Doctors, Physiotherpists, Osteopaths, Nutritionists, Aromatherapists and Physchologists.
- Management of occupational ailemts, pain and postural management.
What Can I Expect From A Soft Tissue Therapy Treatment?
Every Soft Tissue Therapy session will be constructed differently to adhere to your needs depending what they are.
- No matter who you are seeing or what you are seeing them for, your Soft Tissue Therapy Initial Consultation will include discussing what you are there about and what you need. A medical history may need to be taken and communication with other clinicians/doctors may be needed to ensure that the whole rehabilitative team is communicating and understanding what you as the client/patient is needing.
- There will some kind of assessment, again, this is based on your needs. The assesment could be for strength, it could be for mobility, it could be for pain, it could be palpation... it could even be emotional understanding. Never underestimate what you may or may not receive from your Soft Tissue Therapy session.
- There will be your treatment inculded. This is a hands-on-treatment and will consist of a number of techniques some of which you may or may not be familiar with. Treatment lengths are usually between 30 and 60 minutes but some Soft Tissue Therapy treatments can last up to 90 minutes.
- There will be a re-assesment at the end of your treatment, again this will be in conjuction with your needs and/or desired outcoomes from that session. It may be another physical test, a palpation test or a discussion but this will round up your Soft Tissue Therapy for that paerticular day.
This is just a guideline and every Soft Tissue Therapist will work differently. Though Soft Tissue Therapy is not Massage Therapy a Soft Tissue Therapy treatment may consist purely of massage, it may consist partly of massage but some Soft Tissue Therapy may not involve massage at all.
Soft Tissue Therapy covers an array of areas. Not only can it stand alone as a service to help your needs it is one that can be an integral part of a integrative service. Every Soft Tissue Therapist works differently and can direct you on to a particular therapy should you need it. If you are overwhelmed by the amount of therapists out there a Soft Tissue Therapist can always steer you in the right direction with a referral.
If you have any further questions then you can always email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to answer any questions that I can.
Equally if you would like to book in and try a Soft Tissue Therapy treatment with me you can click here and book in online.