The Definition of Soft Tissue Therapy

Professions evolve as society changes and this is no less true for the manual therapies. There was a time when nobody had heard of Sports Massage. Then in 1988 I wrote the first book with this title and now it is a recognised discipline with National Occupational Standards. The same is now happened with Soft Tissue Therapy. In 2012 my 4th book “Advanced Remedial Massage and Soft Tissue Therapy” (Ebury Press) became the first textbook with this title which makes it the definitive work. It defines this newly emerging therapy as one which must include the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of minor and chronic injuries. Wikipedia also defines it in the same way.

Soft Tissue Therapy is obviously a generic term and not subject to any copyright or trademark restrictions. So anyone can use it providing it is true and they have been properly trained to assess, treat and rehabilitate injuries. Before we had a clear definition it was understandable that some Sports Massage therapists used this title instead because it sounded better. But time has moved on and this now has to change.

As Soft Tissue Therapy becomes better recognised by the general public they will expect therapists using this title to live up to its reputation. If those without the necessary clinical skills also use it, it will undermine the development of this vitally needed new therapy. Those therapists would also be working beyond the scope of practice they were trained for, which could invalidate their insurance and be a potential risk to injured clients.

The same should also be considered by the SMA (Sports Massage Association) which changed its name to the Association for Soft Tissue Therapists several years ago, before it became a clearly defined therapy. Although some of their top level therapist can rightly claim this title as individual therapists, the majority have only Level 3 and 4 qualifications and should not. I hope they can accept that according to the new definition of Soft Tissue Therapy it is no longer the appropriate title and the original Sports Massage Association would be correct and better for them.