How do I decide which type of practitioner to see?
This page is designed as a tool to help you decide which type of practitioner(s) it may be appropriate to see for your specific injury or problem. Below is a list of the different types of practitioner that may appear in the Practitioner's Register and a short introduction to the type of work they do, what qualifications they are likely to have and what they can treat. Website addresses which will direct you to further information on each type of therapy have also been included.
Acupuncture is a system of healing using fine needles inserted in specific points in the body in order to achieve pain relief and healing. The principal aim is to recover the equilibrium to the meridians (channels of energy) in the body. Acupuncture is effective for any kind of pain relief and it can also treat a wide range of health problems, including neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, stress, infertility, addictions and allergies. The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) www.acupuncture.org.uk requires a minimum three years study in traditional acupuncture and bio medical sciences to register, and all members will have public liability insurance. Further to this it is important to consider concerns about safety, pain and side effects. In some cases existing symptoms might become temporarily worse. This would usually be addressed at the first appointment, resulting in most patients being reassured and proceeding to give consent for this mode of treatment.
Assists in changing postural habits, improves poise, vitality and coordination and frees movement and breathing through increasing self awareness. Twenty to 30 one-on-one sessions give a good foundation for ongoing self-discovery for most people. Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) www.stat.org.uk gives locations of teachers and is working alongside the Professional Association of Alexander Teachers (PAAT) www.paat.org.uk to establish a voluntary self regulatory body.
Body Stress Release
Body Stress Release is a gentle complimentary health practice, developed in South Africa, which uses neuro-muscular reflexes and biofeedback from pressure tests to identify areas of muscular tension in the body. BSR can effectively relieve postural distortions, muscle spasm, numbness and muscular stress. BSR certification is only offered through the BSR Academy in South Africa, and all BSR practitioners must be members of the BSR association in their country in order to practice. Practitioners use light but definite directional pressure to release stress while the patient is fully clothed and lying down. Some tension may release immediately, however long-held stresses may release in stages and require multiple treatments. More information may be found at www.bodystressrelease.org.uk
Counselling aims to assist clients who have difficulty or distress in their lives, are dissatisfied with life, or feel a loss of sense of direction and purpose. At present there are no legal minimum qualifications necessary to practise as a Counsellor in the UK however the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy www.bacp.co.uk has developed stringent ethical guidelines which should inform the practice of its members.
Chiropractic improves the function of joints, relieves pain and muscle spasm and, in particular, focuses on diagnosing and treating back, neck and shoulder problems, joint, posture and muscle problems, leg pain, sciatica and sports and dance injuries. Chiropractors assess the overall health of their patients and use non-surgical, drug-free treatment methods which include specific and gentle manipulation of the spinal column.
The General Chiropractic Council www.gcc-uk.org regulates the profession, sets standards on education, training, practice & conduct and helps you locate chiropractors in your area. Qualified chiropractors will have a degree; Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) , BSc (Hons) Chiropractic or MChiro.
Feldenkrais is based on a positive integration between mind and body through movement tasks and ideas. Benefits include relief from tension and muscular pain, easier and fuller breathing, greater relaxation and well-being, improved performance in sport, dance, music and drama, greater ease in everyday activities and increased vitality. The practitioner uses observation, conversation and a gentle, non-invasive touch, to investigate the participant’s movement habits. Lessons are particularly useful for specific or long-standing problems. The Feldenkrais Guild UK offers find a teacher and find a class services. Classes are conducted in groups or private sessions.
The equipment used in Gyrotonic or the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®, incorporates key movement principles from gymnastics, swimming, ballet, and yoga through which major muscle groups are worked interdependently and in an integrated manner while mobilising and articulating the joints. Gyrotonic strengthens and stretches the muscular system, stimulates the nervous system, increases range of motion and develops coordination. The exercises are performed through spherical awareness and circularity of movement using natural and turbulence free movement patterns, resulting in a balanced support system for the skeleton. The Gyrotonic www.gyrotonic.co.uk website has information about sessions in London.
Homeopathy aims to boost the body's natural healing resources using natural remedies. It helps to assist problems such as allergies, asthma, headaches and migraine, symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation and skin problems. The homeopath treats an individual as a 'whole person' taking into account their personality, mood, diet, circumstances and background as well as their symptoms. Therefore treatments may well differ for the same symptoms in different individuals. For contacts try the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths www.a-r-h.org, the Society of Homeopaths www.homeopathy-soh.org or the Homeopathic Medical Association UK www.the-hma.org.
Naturopathy is an approach to health care which aims to promote, restore and maintain health. It is said to be particularly effective for skin problems, degenerative and chronic ailments like arthritis and asthma, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, PMS and IBS. Treatment may include nutritional advice, advice on herbs or supplements, detoxification, hydrotherapy (hot and cold water applied to promote healing), and physical therapy (soft tissue massage/osteopathy) to restore balance to the structure of the body. Every naturopath tends to work differently but will use most of these methods. The British Naturopathic Association is the professional body for practicing naturopaths who are registered with the General Council and Register of Naturopaths in the UK www.naturopaths.org.uk.
In the field of nutrition there are many titles used, but only dietitians are regulated by the Health Professions Council. Those who are not registered are breaking the law if they use the title ‘dietician’. Dancers are recommended to consult a Registered Sports Dietitian, SDUK - Sports Dietitians UK is a specialist group of the British Dietetic Association for HPC Registered Dietitians specialising in the field of sports nutrition www.sportsdietitians.org.uk. The Sports and Exercise Nutrition Register www.senr.org.uk lists Registered Dietitians specialising in sports and exercise nutrition. It is run as a partnership between the British Dietetic Association www.bda.uk.com, The Nutrition Society www.nutritionsociety.org and The British Association of Sport & Exercise Science (BASES) www.bases.org.uk. Nutritionists are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating; however at present there is no statutory regulation of the term ‘Nutritionist’. This simply means that ANYONE can call themselves a nutritionist regardless of their qualifications, experience and skills.
There are other individuals using titles such as nutritional therapist and nutritionalist. Dancers who are considering consulting an individual using these titles, together with non-registered nutritionists, are advised to check qualifications and style of practise. It is also important to note that many will advise extensive use of dietary supplements and in fact sell these to their clients.
Osteopathy is a way of detecting and treating damaged parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints to ensure the body is at its most balanced and efficient. Osteopaths treat a variety of conditions including changes to posture in pregnancy, repetitive strain injury; postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries. Treatment may include soft tissue massage and stretching as well as joint mobilisation and manipulation. Some osteopaths also use cranial osteopathy - a very gentle way to rebalance the body. The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) www.osteopathy.org.uk is the regulating body for osteopathy. Only registered practitioners can legally call themselves Osteopaths and professional indemnity insurance is a requirement.
Orthopaedic surgeons are medically qualified practitioners who have a sub-specialty expertise in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. Surgery is rarely required for dancers since the majority of problems presenting are due to over use or abnormal use of the musculoskeletal system. The main role of an orthopaedic surgeon is as part of a multidisciplinary team to help aid the accurate diagnosis and investigation of a patient’s symptoms. The professional bodies in the UK which represents orthopaedic surgeons are the Royal College of Surgeons, www.rcseng.ac.uk, and the British Orthopaedic Association, www.boa.ac.uk. These websites list training for Orthopaedic surgeons and general information for the public.
Physiology is the study of the functioning of living organisms. Sport and exercise physiology is the study of how exercise alters the function and structure of the body. It can be used in a practical sense to assess the stresses that dance places on the body and develop intervention programmes to optimally prepare the dancer's body for performance as well as preventing injuries and illness. The British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) www.bases.org.uk and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) www.iadms.org aims are to promote excellence in performance and well-being of the dancer/athlete.
Physiotherapy is the physical treatment of the body using a wide range of skills including manipulation, mobilisation, massage and exercise therapy to reduce pain and stiffness. It is the assessment, treatment and management of the human body to help the joints, muscles and nerves function to their full potential. Sometimes electrotherapy techniques, such as ultrasound, are used to speed up the body's ability to repair damaged tissues. It is important to ensure that any physiotherapist visited is registered with the Health Professions Council www.hpc-uk.org and has one of the following sets of initials after their name to verify they are registered and qualified: MCSP - Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, FCSP - Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy or MACP Manipulative Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (www.macpweb.org). For more information go to www.csp.org.uk and www.physiofirst.org.uk.
Pilates is beneficial for retraining core control of the spine and pelvis, postural alignment, body awareness and improvement of technique for athletes and dancers. It can be used for injury prevention as well as for rehabilitation from injury. Pilates helps to create muscle balance between the inner and outer core abdominal-pelvic muscles as well as improve posture, flexibility, dynamic stability, coordination and release unnecessary muscular stress and strain. Ensure you are aware of the training of your Pilates instructor as there are no current legal requirements or standards set in place. The Pilates Method Alliance www.pilatesmethodalliance.org is the professional international association for Pilates Instructors within the fitness industry and gives guidance to finding a qualified fitness industry based instructor. Also be aware that many Physiotherapists are also skilled Pilates instructors and may be preferable if you are currently injured.
These terms are used interchangeably but there is no real difference between the two. As from 2003 anyone wishing to practice under these titles must register with the Health Professions Council (HPC); this will protect the public and regulates all practitioners.
A podiatrist/chiropodist works with all aspects of the foot and lower leg. This includes assessing, diagnosing and treating ailments and deformities, from verrucas and minor conditions of the nail to deformities induced by disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and health disorders such as diabetes. Treatments available from a podiatrist/chiropodist include: ointments and non-prescriptive medication for minor ailments, prescription of orthoses, cryothearpy, electrosurgery, ultrasonics, specialised dressings and neurological assessment, minor nail and soft tissue surgery and gait analysis. Podiatrists/chiropodists also give preventative care and health education of the foot and lower leg.
When looking for a podiatrist/chiropodist letters/qualifications to look for include: HPC (Health Professions Council), MChS / FChS (Member/Fellow of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists), DPodM (Diploma in Podiatric Medicine), FCPodS (Podiatric Surgeon), BSc/BSc(Hons) (Bachelor of Science Degree in Podiatric Medicine). For further information on this discipline visit www.feetforlife.org.
Sports and dance therapy
Sports and Dance Therapy utilises the principles of sport and exercise sciences to focus on the prevention of injury and the rehabilitation of the athlete/dancer back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports/dance specific fitness, regardless of age and ability.
Sports and Dance Therapists diagnose and treat injuries. Additionally, biomechanical analysis is undertaken to identify the underlying cause of the injury, following which a range of techniques (including mobilisations, massage, exercise therapy, and electrotherapy) are used to ensure that the injury is fully rehabilitated and does not reoccur.
Sports and Dance Therapy will be accredited by The Society of Sports Therapists (www.society-of-sports-therapists.org). When looking for a Sports and Dance Therapist, ensure that the practitioner is a ‘graduate’ Sports and Dance Therapist, by looking for certain qualifications: BSc (Hons) (Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports and Dance Therapy), and a fully insured MSST (Member of The Society of Sports Therapists).
Yoga originated in India 5000 years ago. It provides a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit. Today yoga is popular for health and fitness, for seeking relief from a specific condition or to assist in managing stress. There are a great variety of styles from the very dramatic, fast paced Astanga to the much softer release based Scaravelli approach. The British Wheel of Yoga www.bwy.org.uk is the largest association in the UK and is recognised by the Sports Council as the national governing body for yoga in the UK.