Teaching Effective Muscle Palpation

Q & A With Joe Muscolino 

Joe Muscolino’s Teachers Track workshop at the AMTA 2012 National Convention will demonstrate how to teach muscle palpation with understanding and critical thinking. Read a Q & A about the workshop and importance of effective muscle palpation below.

Why is it important for students to understand muscle palpation?

Understanding muscle palpation is probably the most powerful assessment tool that a massage therapist can possess. If a massage therapist can’t accurately assess a client’s condition, then it’s difficult for the therapist to provide a specific treatment plan for a client who has musculoskeletal complaints. Most clients do come into a session with musculoskeletal complaints that they want remedied. This is not only true for therapists working in doctor’s offices, physical therapist’s offices and private practices, but also for therapists working in spa settings. Effective muscle palpation assessment skills are a must, no matter the setting.

How do you differentiate critical thinking from memorizing?

Critical thinking implies understanding—“thinking through” the palpitation guidelines rather than just memorizing palpation protocols. Understanding how to palpate makes you better at palpating. This empowers you to better create and modify treatment plans for your clients. Understanding the fundamentals is critical.

What kind of teaching tactics help create critical thinkers?

Teach with the big picture in mind. Teach conceptually and always provide a frame of reference for students. Appeal to a student’s auditory, visual, and kinesthetic senses. Use hands-on examples when possible. Have a passion for what you do and love what you teach!  

What is one key takeaway educators will get from your session that they won’t read about in the session description?

By becoming good at muscle palpation, a student can become an excellent clinical orthopedic massage therapist.

» Read more about this workshop "Teaching Effective Muscle Palpation"  taking place at the AMTA 2012 National Convention.

Dr. Muscolino is an educator in the field of kinesiology and orthopedic assessment and treatment techniques. He is the author of Advanced Treatment Techniques for the Manual Therapist: Neck, and is a contributor to numerous other publications, including Massage Therapy Journal (mtj).


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