What is Myotherapy and a Myotherapist?
Myotherapy comes from the Latin words "Myo", meaning muscle and the "Therpia". "Therpia" or therapy in English means "healing" or "curing". A Myotherapist is somebody trained in the practice of Myotherapy, a hands-on method of assessment and treatment. Myotherapists have the training to treat a wide variety of acute and chronic pain conditions. See the article on Chronic Pain for further details on aspects of such conditions and treatment. The use of a wide range of soft-tissue skills and hands-on therapy is well suited to the treatment of musculoskeletal (MSK) and myofascial pain. Although pain relief can prove relaxing, Myotherapy treatment focus on dealing with the cause of symptoms. Base level massage is more suited to relaxation than addressing more clinical conditions. Also, massage therapists have a fairly narrow scope of practice or the type of conditions they have the training to treat. Sadly, some therapists go beyond their scope of practice and training. Such situations can typically occur due to financial motivations or a desperate need to help, which can have consequences for the consumer. Observing a technique online or from a friend or other therapist does not make one qualified, competent, professional or insurable.
Pain is one of many types of "stressor", which can lead to muscle tension (See the article on the Human Stress Response). Although relaxation massage treatment may create pain relief, it is likely to be short-term and not deal with the cause. Hence, one is likely to need frequent pain relief treatment, which is not the best strategy. Myotherapists tend to specialise in the treatment of myofascial pain, including myofascial trigger point (MTrP) pain. Myotherapy is not a form of massage, as some think and nor is it "Physical Therapy" (see later). It is a "manual therapy", which uses many different soft-tissue therapy (STT) skills from many disciplines, see the education section later.
Conditions and types of pain seen in clinic:-
- Neck pain (see article covering treatment, causes, help)
- Migraines or tension headaches (some types and can relate to Neck / Shoulder Pain- see articles)
- Back Pain (see article covering treatment, causes, help)
- Musculoskeletal aches associated with pregnancy (see back pain)
- Bursitis pain of the hip, shoulder or other joint (see articles)
- Sciatica (see back pain related article)
- Trapped nerves
- Knee pain (see articles Patellofemoral Syndrome and Iliotibial Band Syndrome)
- Work-related injuries
- Foot and ankle pain (see articles)
- Jaw pain, such as Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
- Sports injuries (see articles)
- Wrist, hand and elbow injuries
Differences between Remedial Massage and Myotherapy
Techniques available to a Myotherapist typically include all of the soft-tissue skills taught at the base massage level. Skills also include sports and remedial massage level techniques and more advanced myofascial release - MFR techniques. The knowledge and techniques available to a practitioner will partly depend on the training providers course syllabus. For example, the principal practitioner Terry has previously trained in the McTimoney Chiropractic method, which provides him with a wealth of additional assessment training, diagnostic knowledge and treatment options. Sadly he left the Chiropractic profession after moving to Australia from the UK due to his education not being recognised. However, he still uses much of his previous clinical training knowledge to benefit consumers, such as neurological and orthopaedic testing, differential diagnosis, joint mobilisation techniques and prescriptive exercises above and beyond those taught to Myotherapists. Having taught as a senior course coach on one of the first Myotherapy courses in Brisbane, he understands the knowledge and skills required to qualify. He also taught at Diploma level remedial massage and, to a lesser extent, cert IV and has a broad knowledge base. Terry chose to complete a formal Kinesiology Taping course in 2020 and, for insurance purposes working with the UK Invictus Games participants as part of the medical team. He was already familiar with strapping and taping from his previous military experience and sports and remedial massage training. As a practitioner with over fifteen years of experience, he works in an evidence-informed way with consumers. In addition, he has training in broad range of soft tissue therapy (STT) and myofascial release treatment methods.
Additional Soft Tissue Therapy Training
- Soft Tissue Release - STR
- Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation - IASTM
- Gua Sha treatment
- Muscle Energy Technique - MET
- Neuromuscular Therapy - NMT
- Positional Release Technique - PRT
- Kinesiology Taping - (KT)
Training and clinical experience enable practitioners to choose the most relevant "tool" within their knowledge base or "toolbox" for the task at hand and meet the consumer's treatment goals. Occasionally, consumers may have had a bad experience with a one treatment type and therapist, such as Trigger point Dry Needling. Some consumers simply do not like needles, though they are very different to hypodermic needles. Although a consumer may have had a bad experience before does not mean they will experience the same with another practitioner. Myotherapy treatments at Brisbane clinic can include Dry Needling, though similar results are possible without needles. Equally, as with any manual or soft tissue treatment, a specific technique may not be an option. One therapy might be contraindicated in one situation, while another is not. Hence, knowledge and experience of various techniques allow one to provide treatment for more complicated conditions and pain.
What's the difference between a Myotherapist and Physiotherapist
Myotherapist training is either at Advanced Diploma or undergraduate degree level. It can take 2-3 years to complete and depends on the end Myotherapy qualification. A degree may not require any experience and just year 12 grades. Advanced diplomas tend to require prior massage training before studying as a myotherapist. Usually, there is a base level diploma of remedial massage requirement. Some therapists may have years of practical experience treating and then study Myotherapy. Others may have purely completed the necessary qualifications as fast as possible. Hence, as with other manual-therapy professions, there can be big differences between therapists. Myotherapists learn more methods of assessment and treatment. A wider skillset means a broader scope of practice or the type of conditions one is trained to treat. Training covers some diagnostic testing methods, though myotherapists are not able to diagnose. Diagnostic tests can help a myotherapy practitioner form an educated guess, whereas only specific professionals can provide a legal diagnosis. For example, a registered Chiropractor can diagnose, and that ability goes along with the honorary Doctor title on deregistration.
There can still be differences in the subjects taught on a myotherapy course from one training provider to the next. Some courses may teach Kinesiology Taping, while others may not. There are also Myotherapists who say that they offer "Physical Therapy" treatment and yet are not trained as such. The terms "Physical Therapy", "Physiotherapist", and "Physiotherapy" are legally protected titles. Protected titles have been used in most countries for decades and refer to regulated professions. Such health professions can usually diagnose as part of their scope of practice. The terms Myotherapy and Myotherapist are not protected titles, effectively meaning anybody can use them. Myotherapy courses also require students to complete learning in a clinic setting. Most training providers run a student clinic, where the general public can receive treatment from myotherapy students. Other health professions also have similar arrangements, where students complete placements in clinics or hospitals. Most allied health professionals have to complete clinic entry and exit exams. Such exams aim to test the learning and knowledge in their entirety and the required standards at clinic entry or exit level. Such exams are not commonplace in the field of myotherapy, as many exams are competency-based. Hence, a myotherapy student may pass an exam on the shoulder and then move to the next area or subject. Thus, there is no real test of complete (the entire body) knowledge and understanding.
Physiotherapy training and other primary and allied health care professionals typically train to degree level minimum, and sometimes masters. The more extended training period provides Physiotherapists with a greater depth and breadth of knowledge than that of a Myotherapist. Physiotherapists also have a broader scope of practice and can diagnose, much like other regulated health professionals. Physiotherapy training covers some massage and soft-tissue therapy skills, though the courses focus on other skills and knowledge. Massage and soft-tissue skills are a relatively tiny part of Physiotherapy training. Hence, the actual practical massage and soft tissue skills experience can vary. One could say the same for other Allied Health professionals. That said, prior experiences and interests also shape how each of us works. There are a lot of people who learnt massage before more extensive training. Also, there is a lot of scope for more training later and based on interests. In many respects, a Physiotherapist is qualified to do everything within the remit of a Myotherapist and more. However, Myotherapist may have more practical experience of the soft tissue therapy (STT) treatment techniques taught on a Myotherapy course than a Physiotherapist. That said, there are many specialisms in Physiotherapy, and a Sports or MSK Physiotherapist may have far more (STT) practical experience.
When seeking treatment, there are many things to look for, and just picking a specific profession is not always the best option. The article on Finding a good, ethical Musculoskeletal health professional includes some of the things to look for and avoid.
There is a lot of overlap between skills and treatment methods within the MSK profession. Such overlaps cover primary care, allied health or others. However, there can be significant differences between how each discipline approaches a problem. There can even be wide variations between those within the same profession or from the same academic institution. Differences between practitioners exist due to profession, education provider, philosophy, personal experience, interests and more. Some such differences are more historical, which one can see when looking at differences between Chiropractors, Osteopaths and Physiotherapists.
Massage and Myotherapy Registrations
Terry brings over 15 years of experience working in the MSK Therapy field back to Brisbane from the UK. His training covers many assessment methods, treatment and soft tissue therapy (STT) techniques/skills. Terry's interests have led to him specialising in the treatment of trauma and myofascial pain relief. He also taught as a senior course coach on one of the first myotherapy courses in Brisbane and is a highly qualified and experienced MSK specialist. His skills are now available at the Morningside clinic, where he works as a Myotherapist