Current Soft tissue techniques for Physiotherapists in Sport and Exercise: developing skills and justifying treatment choices

This is a recent entry on BJSM’s blog written by Vikki Mills and Faith Fisher on a recent 2 part soft tissue techniques course hosted by the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sport and Exercise Medicine (ACPSEM) in the UK. And this is an integral part of the ACPSEM pathway for clinicians to attain bronze, silver and gold levels in ACPSEM.

In this entry Vikki and Faith briefly outlines a few things that have influenced their clinical reasoning and practice by attending the course. Namely these include exploring the evidence base for massage therapy.

“It became quickly apparent that course attendees were not fully aware of several fundamental reasons for using massage, with most attendees noting blood flow improvement as the main justification. We were exposed to many other reasons, including the positive impact of wellbeing, biomechanical, physiological, neurological and psychological effects (Moraska 2007).”

The other is of course the practical skills that were covered during the course.

“Evidence has suggested that differences in practitioners’ proficiency affect the effectiveness of massage (Donozama et al 2010). Therefore, handling and optimising patient position was fundamental to the effectiveness of not only the treatment but the wellbeing and comfort of the therapist.”

As mentioned at the beginning of the blog entry, it is rather amusing that most physios do not have any formal training in massage therapy. Certainly I think it is not included in most undergrad courses. I remember I only had a few sessions of teaching over the whole undergrad course, as the profession had shifted heavily towards a hands-off approach, at least in the UK it was.

It is still a tricky subject, on one hand there is no doubt that massage therapy have many positive effects for an athlete, but how much of it is our role as physios to utilise that is debatable. Some teams with massage therapists to do extensive massage therapies. But on the whole, physios are still ‘expected’ by athletes to perform massages, which I think would be difficult to avoid. Soft tissue techniques are also common on a regular basis for neuromodulation purposes to help with stiffness post-op for example. I think in sports physio it still has a significant role.

Please click here to read the full blog post by Vikki and Faith.



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