Mar 2014 15

What's in a name - remedial soft tissue therapy

By: Mel Cash

Mel Cash is one of the founding fathers of sports massage and one of the world’s leading authorities on sports and remedial massage. He is the author of several books and is the principal tutor at the London School of Sports Massage


Mel Cash guest blogs on dwsportsmassage


Perhaps the worst mistake I have ever made was calling my first book “Sports Massage”. It should have been called Remedial Massage for Sport, but my publishers thought that Sports Massage sounded more contemporary (it had never been seen in print before). I hoped at the time that sports massage would become synonymous with remedial massage and mean the same thing, but how wrong I was!

Sports and remedial massage therapy

Five years ago when the London School of Sports Massage upgraded its training course to a BTEC level 5 qualification, we decided to continue to call it Sports and Remedial Massage and hope that our emphasis on remedial (which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “giving or intended as a remedy or cure”) would be understood. But there are 2 problems with this:

  1. “Sports massage” is getting a reputation for being quite crude and brutal as there are still some organisations and schools providing poor quality training.
  2. Using  the word massage  in the qualification title implies that that’s all we do, which is not true. Our scope of training means it is possible to provide highly effective treatment without applying any ‘conventional’ massage techniques. Massage is just one of the tools that we draw on.

remedial soft tissue therapy treats injury, overuse and soft tissue damage


​Remedial soft tissue therapy

Every 5 years, our qualification has to be renewed with BTEC. There was very little change to the course content this time round, but I feel that it is becoming increasingly important to have a title that truthfully and accurately reflects the range of skills that our graduates possess by the end of their training. Remedial Soft Tissue Therapy is a more accurate description of what we do now.

When I started as a therapist, nobody had heard of the term sports massage, but in just a few years it became a recognised term. If you used the term ‘soft tissue’, people used to think that it had something to do with toilet paper, but now we often hear about deep tissue massage and people seem to know what it means.

Nowadays I don’t think people will be scared off by the term soft tissue therapy, but instead are more likely to be enthusiastic because they want something different and better than the ‘average’ sports massage they may have experienced.

I believe now is the right time to start calling ourselves ‘Remedial Soft Tissue Therapists,’ and I’m sure that this will become a commonly recognised term if more of us use it.


sports massage for injury recovery and prevention, overuse and medical conditions


The growing need for remedial soft tissue therapy

The financial cutbacks in NHS funding mean that non-life threatening musculoskeletal conditions are unfortunately becoming a very low priority. More and more people will now have to turn to the private sector if they want treatment.

In the private sector there is some very good manual therapy available from Physiotherapy and Osteopathy etc. clinics, but these tend to be more expensive because they often involve much higher costs for equipment and premises than we require. People tend to go to them only when they have more severe problems or long-term chronic issues. There are a large number of people who need relatively low-cost, easily available treatment for their more minor soft tissue injuries, and this is what we can provide.

The need for private Remedial Soft Tissue Therapy among the communities is growing. ISRM therapists can offer the best range of skills to treat the widest spectrum of minor and chronic musculoskeletal problems affecting the wider population as well as athletes.


Dave Wheeler of DWSportsMassasge is an ISRM qualified sports massage and remedial soft tissue therapist