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Soft tissue therapy

Soft Tissue Therapy (STT) is a category of bodywork that aims to alleviate aches, pains and / or injuries that are attributable to the soft tissues of the body. In seeking to achieve this, a soft tissue practitioner will gain a medical and lifestyle profile of their client, and also gather other physical findings during a postural and / or functional assessment.

Soft Tissue Practitioners (STP) are healthcare professionals who have extensive training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, pathophysiology, biomechanics, functional anatomy, and palpatory certainty. As practitioners, STPs are required to maintain client records, update their skills and knowledge annually, and maintain insurance.


Assessments - Postural and Functional

Clients presenting with a specific complaint/s will generally undergo a number of assessments that will each provide information about the client's soft tissue status. These assessments are conducted according to the client's presenting signs and symptoms. The purpose of this process is to help identify the most likely cause of the pain or injury. They may include assessments of posture, biomechanics, range of movement, nervous system, among others.

When the findings of an assessment suggest that the client may have a condition or signs and symptoms that are beyond the scope of a practitioners skill-set, training, and / or specialisation, they will refer that client to the most appropriate healthcare professional.

Treatment strategies

The specific treatment application of an ache, pain, or injury will be solely reliant on the conclusions reached by the assessments. Any number of treatment techniques may be used to achieve optimal treatment results.

As with most professions, the more refined the practitioners skills, coupled with their understanding of anatomy, physiology, and dysfunction the more intricate may be the treatment applications.

Manual Techniques

  • Trigger Point techniques provide relief from Myofascial Trigger Points.
  • Myofascial Therapy, that targets the muscle and fascial systems, promotes flexibility and mobility of the body's connective tissues. Likewise, it mobilises fibrous adhesions and reduces the severity and sensitivity of scarring caused by injury or surgery.
  • Massage techniques, traditionally known as Swedish Massage, may be used as part of a treatment application. Referred to, in Soft Tissue Therapy, as broad-handed techniques, this mode of treatment aims to reduce swelling and / or inflammation.
  • Frictions create heat, which in turn provides the impetus for the mobilisation of adhesions between fascial layers, muscles, compartments and other soft tissues. Frictions are also thought to create an inflammatory response that instigates a focus to an injured area, thereby, promoting healing, especially in tendon pathologies.
  • Sustained Pressure (ischaemic / digital pressure) alleviates hypertonic (tight) areas within muscle and fascia.
  • Other Techniques such as Active Release Therapy, Myofascial Release and / or Deep Tissue Massage are all combinations of the techniques listed above. These are not unique techniques that have unique or exceptional results.

Generally, any one of these techniques alone, or in combination, may provide the solution to an ache, pain, or an injury. However, claims that any particular soft tissue technique will alleviate a specific condition, predictably, every time, are deceptive.


  • Static stretches attempt to alleviate excessively hypertonic (tight).
  • PNF stretches (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) are used in an attempt decrease the tone in a muscle or muscle group that is assessed as being hypertonic (tight).
  • To treat DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), Proprioreceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is typically used.
  • The use of very light muscular contractions, in very specific directions is Muscle Energy Technique (M.E.T.). Refined more than 100 years ago in the field of osteopathy, this technique, alters joint restriction and joint range of motion, through altering the length of local musculature.

Exercise Prescription

Dysfunctional soft tissues are either too short and tight or too long and weak. Dependent upon on assessment findings, some clients may be required to undertake a series of exercises, to strengthen, or simply to "switch-on" particular muscles or muscle groups.


Some soft tissue practitioners may use strapping proprioreceptively, with a view to altering pain perception or muscle firing patterns.


As part of an overall treatment strategy, clients will often be required to contribute to their treatment outcomes for optimal benefit. This may be as simple as keeping a series of appointments, to home exercises, to a dietary review, to some self-massage.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Soft_tissue_therapy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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