What is a Muscle Therapist?
The Muscle Therapist is a skilled health professional who has the knowledge, skills and ability to apply treatment principles to maximize performance, preparation and injury prevention programs.
In addition, they will provide immediate care of chronic and acute injuries, rehabilitate and refer on for specialist advice and intervention when required.
They will also provide appropriate soft tissue interventions in a clinical environment. Furthermore, they will plan and implement appropriate rehabilitation and return to training/work programs.
Massage Therapy Vs. Muscle Therapy
Muscle Therapists can specialize in many different types of massage techniques including, deep tissue massage, sports massage, Cupping Therapy, IASTM Tools and different types of taping techniques. Most Muscle Therapists specialize in several modalities, which require a variety of techniques. Usually, the type of massage or soft tissue intervention is determined by the client’s needs and physical condition. On going training in technique course will increase the options in the therapist’s ‘tool box’ allowing then the versatility to accommodate the needs to of variety of different patients.
Muscle therapy is a form of manual soft tissue manipulation in which pressure and friction are used to release areas of strain in a muscle. If a muscle has been injured or has been under a postural stress for a prolonged period of time, it will often lead to pain and discomfort. After a certain period time, stretches are no longer effective as a stand alone treatment and a course of manual intervention is often required to rectify the underlying problem.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger Points are small areas of the muscle in which there is a build up of tissue, and the lack of blood and nutrients in that area causes an inability for that muscle to relax. The area is very sensitive and can cause pain, fatigue, and weakness in the muscle. Trigger Points can lead to referral pain, which sends pain signals to an area away from the site of the Trigger Point. The different sensations a patient may feel as a result of a Trigger Point can range from dull and sharp pain, numbness and tingling and possibly a burning sensation similar to that associated with nerve irritation.
Rehabilitation and Massage
The rehab programs should start as early as possible after an injury as early intervention is often associated with faster and better outcome measures. When devising the rehabilitation plan, the muscle therapist must take into account that the objective of the patient. The intensity and duration of the rehab plan will reflect these objectives and goals.
All rehabilitation programs must take into account, and reproduce, the activities and movements required when the athlete returns to the field post-injury. The goal of the rehabilitation process of the patient, is to limit the extent of the injury, reduce functional loss, and prevent, correct or eliminate altogether the disability.
The goal of functional based rehabilitation programs is the return of the patient to optimal function. “Optimal function is the result of physiological motor activations creating specific bio-mechanical motions and positions using intact anatomical structures to generate forces and actions.”
Musculoskeletal injuries are the result of sport participation. “Football has the highest incidence of major injuries, with gymnastics and ice hockey close behind.” Tissue injury from sports can be classified as macrotraumatic and microtraumatic.
Massage for Athletes
Macrotraumatic injuries are usually due to a strong forces such as a fall, accident, collision or laceration – and are more common in contact sports such as football and rugby. These injuries can be primary, due to direct tissue damage from a tackle or secondary, due to transmission of forces or release of inflammatory mediators.
Microtraumatic injuries are chronic injuries that result from overuse of a muscle, joint, ligament, or tendon. This type of injury is more common in sports such as swimming, cycling and rowing.
At some point in the recovery process, patients return to exercise programs and resume sport-specific activities in preparation for return to play/work. The transition is important for several reasons. First, although the patient may have improvements in flexibility, range of motion, functional strength, pain, neuromuscular control, inflammation. Preparation for a full recovery requires the restoration of strength, power, speed, agility, and endurance at levels exhibited in every day tasks in life.
Why See a Muscle Therapist?
- Back Pain / Neck Pain
- Peripheral Joint problems – hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist pain
- Stree Relief
- Sports Injuries
- Tension Headaches
- Postural Abnormalities
Gray J. Phases of Rehabilitation after Injury: An Evidence-Based Literature Review. Bok Smart. 2009
Sports Injury Clinic. General Injuries and Conditions. Inflammation. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/general/inflammation (accessed 25 May 2016).