Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy

What is soft tissue mobilization therapy?

Soft tissue mobilization is a manual therapy where professional and licensed physiotherapists use specific techniques on the fascia, muscles, and ligaments. The treatment aims to break the adhesions in the soft tissues and to improve muscle function. Some of the soft tissue injuries are strains, sprains, contusions, bursitis, and stress injuries. These injuries usually affect the fascia muscles or tendons.

The body also attempts to heal the soft tissue injuries, also called adhesions. However, it is a lengthy process of inflammation that leaves behind long strands of scar tissues. The scar tissue, when pulled against each other, creates the pain points. Mobilizing the soft tissues reduces the adhesions.

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Types of Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy:

A professional physical therapist has the training to use hands-on technique and provide pain relief. Pushing, kneading, and pulling are a few techniques that apply to the nerves, ligaments, tendons, and muscles during soft tissue mobilization. The types of therapy are:

  • Strain-Counterstain

The technique identifies the pain points and holds them in a passive position from anywhere between ninety seconds to three minutes. It helps in relaxing the soft tissues and provides relief from pain and stiffness.

  • ASTYM - Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization

The technique involves a special plastic tool to aid the breakdown of scar tissues and promote the improved function of the muscle and joints. Scar tissues limit flexibility, muscle tension, and the motion range. It is an effective and a proven technique for treating bursitis and tendinitis and reduces inflammation.

  • Manual traction

Manual traction refers to applying pressure for a few seconds to stretch the spine and relieve the pressure off the lumbar discs. It is an effective therapy used to treat back pain and can be applied as a quick and sudden thrust.

  • Sustained pressure

It refers to pushing directly on the restricted tissues and holding.

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD

This is another method of mobilizing the soft tissues using specific manual techniques that target the lymph pathways. The technique allows the fluid to move and improves circulation. It is effective for reducing swelling in the legs.

  • Cross friction

This manual therapy maintains the mobility inside the soft tissues present in the ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It also prevents the formation of scars. In this method, the therapists apply a deep tissue massage locally and obliquely to the pain location. Cross friction therapy reduces pain and regenerates connective tissues to promote the healing process.

  • Trigger point therapy

Soft tissue manual therapy treats immobility and chronic muscular pain. The therapy aims to release tightness and tension in the pain areas. It involves a massage known as deep tissue work.

  • Graston technique also known as Instrumented Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

It uses a specialized stainless steel tool to treat scar tissues and promotes quick rehabilitation.

Risks of Soft Tissue Mobilization:

It is a low-risk therapy, but experts may need to confirm whether the patient has nerve damage, has undergone surgery, or has a fracture. The therapist must have significant knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. They must also have training in tissue manipulation and know how it impacts physical function. The strategies of mobilization therapy aim at improving the functional goals.

Benefits of Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy:

The benefits of the therapy are:

  • Reducing pain
  • Regenerating soft tissues and increasing mobility
  • Improving function
  • Lengthening tendons and muscles
  • Reduce edema and swelling
  • Restore range of motion
  • Breaking down or reducing adhesions

Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy for Which Conditions:

The mobilization of soft tissues treats the following conditions:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Ankle sprains
  • Chronic back and neck pain
  • Knee and hip pain
  • Shoulder pain and scar tissues
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendinitis and post-surgical scarring
  • Shin splints
  • Epicondylitis
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Muscle sprains and strains

Who Shouldn’t have Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy?

Patients with open wounds on the affected area, those undergoing cancer treatment, pregnant women, and people still recovering from fractures must not undergo mobilization of soft tissues. Certain kidney disorders also prevent patients from taking the therapy.

How to Prepare for Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy?

The physical therapist examines patients and figures out whether they require the therapy. When there is a nagging injury or persistent pain, patients must book slots for the therapy sessions in the clinic of the physiotherapist. The patients can also discuss symptoms and resolve their queries before the therapy begins.

Recovery: What Happens After Soft Tissue Mobilization Therapy?

The therapy mobilizes the muscles and breaks scar tissue. It also removes waste products or toxins from the damaged area and promotes healing. Patients may experience tension release in the muscles, greater flexibility, and improved movement.

Related Conditions:

For a soft tissue injury, the tissue goes for self-repair mechanism but forms scar tissue. When motion is limited, the physical therapists perform scar tissue mobilization. It can be also be used to treat tennis elbow, golf elbow, contracture, Morton’s neuroma, and tear in the quadriceps tendon. Based on the patient’s condition, the therapist may recommend multiple therapy sessions for relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does soft tissue mobilization work?
The therapy provides relief to people with sprains, strains, and other injuries in soft tissues.
2. How does soft tissue release help?
Releasing the soft tissues helps in breaking the adhesions and improves blood flow to the affected area. The therapy aims to maintain the length, function, and resilience of the muscles.
3. Who can perform soft tissue mobilization?
A trained and licensed therapist needs to perform soft tissue mobilization at the clinic.
4. How to mobilize scar tissue?
Massaging the scar is a method for remodeling the scar tissue that develops in injured tissue. Trained and qualified physical therapists perform the massage after surgery, soft tissue injuries, and fractures.

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