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Where Sport Therapy Means More

A Q&A With Bryan Carter

When Bryan Carter moved to Knoxville from Nashville in 1990 to attend the University of Tennessee, his career goal was to become a physical therapist. He’d been in the martial arts world for more than 15 years, which led to him teaching Taekwondo to other college students in the basement of Clement Hall. As his studies got underway, Bryan realized that PT school wasn’t in the cards for him, so upon graduation, with a degree in child and adolescent development and sport psychology, he threw his energy into teaching martial arts and eventually went to massage therapy school. He wanted to build a career helping other people achieve their physical goals, whether those people were professional athletes or everyday folks. After being introduced to the positive effects of consistent myofascial work, he was hooked. Carter Sport Therapy opened in 2007 and has been consistently successful in helping people heal after injuries and prevent future ones. Bryan works alongside seven other therapists to help clients enjoy life without aches and pains. 

Why sport therapy? 

I get to see people do things after seeing us that they couldn’t do before coming in. We do predominantly myofascial tissue work, which is the clear membrane over the muscle. What we do is create space in the fascia, so things move more easily with an increased range of motion and mobility. It promotes circulation, which helps recovery and injury prevention. 

What kind of clients do you see? 

We’ve seen everyone, from an eight-week-old with a tongue tie to a 94-year-old woman who wanted to keep ballroom dancing. We see a lot of athletes, but we also see hobbyists. Our target is anyone who moves. We see desk jockeys who are at computers all day and road warriors who are in their vehicles all day. We see tons of people in the CrossFit community, as well as doctors and nurses who are on their feet all day. Whatever you’re doing all day, we help give your body the space to do the things you want to do, and then give you suggestions and ideas to do at home. 

What’s the difference between regular massage therapy and sport therapy? 

Coming from a martial arts background, stretching was a big thing. I was able to take some of the martial arts stuff and incorporate it into the work I was doing, creating a hybrid, a different way to approach massage. With Western massage therapy, you might see a client once a month for a session focused on relaxation. That’s not what this is, and it’s not deep tissue massage either. By trade, we’re massage therapists, but we understand functional movement patterns. Fascia can have adhesions that get sticky, so we create space in the fascia so your body can move more efficiently. 

What can a new client expect on a first visit?

The consultation happens on the table. You’ll fill out an intake form and we’ll talk about what’s going on. I’ll ask questions about what they do for a living, what a normal day looks like, and when they notice their problem the most. For example, if they have pain when they first wake up in the morning, I’ll ask how old their mattress is. I want to understand where and why they hurt. They may feel pain in their neck, but that doesn’t mean that’s where the problem is. If you have neck pain, I might start on your pecs. If your shoulder hurts, then I’m looking underneath your arm. So, we’ll go through a myofascial spread session. I’ll work on them and then see how they move. We’re looking at the whole picture, not singular motions. 

What do you want future clients to know about Carter Sport Therapy? 

One of the things I say all the time is that we are more than massage therapists. We’re able to connect with our clients and not only understand what they are feeling but also being able to empathize with where they are and what they’re going through. Everyone has heard the expression, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” and that’s what we live out here. We want way more for our clients than we want from our clients.

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