Got a recent question from a new grad basically on where to start to look for continuing education for soft tissue work and other manual therapies. Below is a quick list that I compiled of places I have studied, where I’d like to study, or where I believe the teaching and evidence-basis is solid. They are probably in some kind of order by my affinity, but the key to remember is that is not the “brand” of manual therapy that you do, but how good you are at it.
I think it is fair, as Gray has taught me, to expect to have a soft tissue technique, a joint technique, and a trigger point technique. My soft tissues are Gua Sha, Pin and Stretch, and old fashioned digging. My joint techniques are Maitland and Mulligan. Trigger point training is from Rizopoulos and Kostapoulos.
One link that I don’t know exists is a formal training module in Lewitt’s methods. I am sure Dr. Craig Liebenson’s Modern Spine Series teaches these @ an expert level. I hope and suspect we have readers that have experience in all of these schools of training, so please comment on the ones I am less experienced on.
–Probably the best option I can think of. I first got a hold of these names by Gray saying this is where he learned his Trigger Point management, surprisingly not from Travell and Simons. I believe Rizopoulos is Editor of Journal of Bodyworks, which is a fantastic journal that has all the EBP standards but presents novel and contemporary choices that you do not see in the APTA world. These guys are read in every manual therapy there is and are brilliant educators.
–Certainly one of the more popular brand names out there utilizing pin and stretch method. I am not formally trained, but certainly the results most hear about are legitimate in my eyes. Unfortunately researching this technique can be troublesome as it is practiced by mostly chiro, who are real slick and invest in the certs and don’t really use the technique as taught and intended. They just advertise ART to get you in the door and hook you up to stim and heat trash.
–Non-painful joint technique where the master Brian Mulligan can’t even always explain himself. Reducing positional faults is probably the best description I have, and it is often magic. This is my primary “joint-based” manual therapy.
–Geoffrey Maitland model of joint mobilization extending off of one our our forefathers, Freddy Kaltenborn. Model based on convex-concave joint congruencies in reducing pain and extending joint play. I use this liberally as well, particularly in regaining lumbar extension mobility.
–I am not sure there is any difference in all these IASTM techniques, but we had Graston in Philly, and of all the models, I think their education is the best. I at some point will take their course and apply it to Gua Sha. I need some more knowledge before I give in to the steel of Graston being better for “feeling” the tissue than the plastic of Gua Sha Orthopedic. SASTM is something I really want to try as well, but again, I would go to Graston for well-priced quality learning that you probably can apply to Gua Sha, Graston, SASTM, ASTYM, and Crochete.
–I am not sure if this was a complement or not, but one of my ortho professors for DPT, Dr. Susan Edmond, said I reminded her of a young Stanley Paris. Obviously Paris is a genius. I’m not sure I agree with his contra-McKenzie model, but I do know this is probably the best place for a PT to learn manipulation techniques. And of course here in NJ, as a PT we can’t do manipulations, but we can do Grade 5 mobilizations. You can learn these here too. They actually look quite similar (wink, wink).
–Combination of IASTM and Mulligan techniques. I was scheduled to take this in September, but I opted out in favor of Todd Wright’s mentorship in Austin. This is a must-take for me as if somehow this blend of IASTM, Mulligan, and ART is legitimate, it will likely take manual therapy to higher levels.
–Thomas Myers model of Structural Integration is my most favorable “massage” approach. It clearly defines regional interdependence, and the 12-week process is very complimentary to progressive exercise.
–Don’t know much about their methods, but I do know the name is well respected on the West Coast. I suspect it is old school as in Medical Level 2, me and Brad’s partner was a diplmat there, and he was totally lost in the SFMA model. He probably had great manual therapy skills, but I don’t know where their assessment and functional component lies.
–These folks haven’t really been accessible to my locations and availabilities, but Tim Vagen came up with their horseman @ the San Fransisco Spine Clinic back in the day. If Tim Vagen says they have good work, then I agree.
–I think there are a lot of excellent knock offs for learning Positional Release, but I think most would agree that Jones is the originator and the go-to book resource for learning his work.
–Maybe we’ll call it Demoneuromodulation where the manual therapy is purported to separate skin from nerves. This is what Steve does with me in working on my shoulders. Diane Lee’s name comes up quite a bit in recent times, and I will probably go through her book(s) one of these days before taking a course.
–I have never heard positive things from a John Barnes course attendee, but he has been around forever, and by my admission, I don’t know a lot of people that are in his camp. I had a story once from someone that went. His buddy was the model up on stage, and Barnes was demonstrated something that supposed to be magical, and the model, another student at the course, ran off the stage because Barnes jabbed his thumb into his side when there was “supposed” to be a reaction. Hearsay? Yes. Shady? Probably.
–Another name like Diane Lee and Canadian as well that I think we should be reading and learning more about.
–This is Mike Rosenberg’s company, and there is also a Manual Therapy module that is available. Like Positional Release and Myofascial Release, there are many knock offs to Muscle Energy Technique. I have lost touch with this technique as I think the manual palpation specificity is beyond my skill set, but if you are good at MET, it is just as powerful as a lot of other stuff.
–I took a 1-day on this about 10 years ago right when I graduated PT school. It seemed like it was a lot like MET, but I suspect that is incorrect. I really have no idea what is going on here in terms of “muscle activation,” but I do know folks that I seriously trust like Ben Shear and Robert Lardiner use this method as a go-to move, so there is reason to look further.
–Manual therapist formally trained in NMT are a place to look when looking for a great individual. I hold a lot of favor for their teachers and many practitioners that I know personally. Unfortunately, as this is more a massage genre crowd, there is a lot of foolishness with candles and metaphysical slop that gets in the way of quality practice.