Having a dual designation in both athletic therapy and massage therapy, to me, is a nearly perfect combination of repertoire to tackle most musculoskeletal injuries!
When I introduce my background as an athletic + massage therapist to my new patients, they always have the same expression - “Cool! But what is Athletic Therapy?”
The general public usually has a good understanding of the massage therapy profession - which is not surprising, it has been around for 5000 years. The athletic therapy profession, it’s the exact opposite.
Athletic therapy primarily focuses on musculoskeletal disorders based on the sports medicine model. It’s a combination of prevention of injury, proper assessments, and acute and chronic injury management. Traditionally, athletic therapists have higher exposure to sporting environments and an active population. Since more and more people engage in different levels of sports of physical activity, athletic therapy is ideal for patients who are aiming to return to exercise or other physical activities.
Athletic Therapists are experts in musculoskeletal disorders as we treat acute and/or chronic pain and injury through hands-on treatment and exercise rehabilitation. Most Athletic Therapists undergo an extremely demanding 4-years degree program which highly emphasizes the musculoskeletal system, emergency care and physical-functional restoring and strengthening. Athletic Therapists are not settled with just relieving pain, but also improving physical performance and quality of life. During an athletic therapy session, our patients may expect different manual therapies, modalities, corrective exercises, taping and bracing.
There are some similarities between massage therapy and athletic therapy - such as an orthopedic assessment focus and the use of manual therapy skills. However, they also have significant differences and advantages. The ultimate goal in both professions is to assist patients in restoring and improving musculoskeletal functions.
I treasure manual therapy over electrical modalities in my treatment room - most of my patients would agree with my statement. It’s the most superior form of treatment, it also has the longest history. It’s not surprising that many patients voiced their low satisfaction with electrical modalities, and they will eventually seek direct hands-on care. By far, I cannot find any electrical modalities that can treat and assess muscular abnormality at the same time, but hands can. As we gained more hands-on experience by treating thousands of patients, we can quickly identify soft tissue abnormalities and provide immediate and direct treatment to the area with our well-trained hands. That’s why patients would commonly ask “How do you find all my sore spots?”
This is when massage therapy training comes shining in my practice. Close hands-on contact with the soft tissues allows me to assess the status of the tissues, it can be tonicity, heat, myo-fascial restriction or even subtle fasciculation. During an hour-long manual therapy session, it’s an interactive process between me and my patients. Patients are allowed to reflect on their feelings about tissue changes. The strong foundation of my athletic therapy background allows me to provide education on injury prevention and self-care protocols alongside the treatment table.
Being a massage therapist allows me to deal with pathologies associated with non-athletic population i.e. Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders etc. This allows me to serve a broader client base in my practice.
By blending the knowledge between athletic therapy and massage therapy, patients can have a better understanding of the mechanism of injury, faulty movement patterns, poor posture and muscle imbalance from an athletic therapy perspective. At the same time, they are also receiving quality massage care to reduce abnormal muscle tension and promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.
Simon provides Athletic Therapy and Massage Therapy in Aurora and Markham!