Massage is the birthplace of physiotherapy. There is also evidence that this age-old technique using both stretching and pressure in a rhythmic fashion was adopted in many ancient cultures.
What is soft tissue release?
A form of bodywork used to address pain, dysfunction or injury in the body’s soft tissues, soft tissue release is a fast, effective technique that promotes muscular strength and flexibility after injury. Soft tissues primarily include muscles, tendons, fascia, ligaments, skin, synovial membranes, fat, blood vessels and nerves. By evaluating and manually manipulating these soft tissues, our massage therapists can provide needed support for the client’s neuromusculoskeletal system.
There are three types of soft tissue release:
- passive, in which the therapist instigates movement
- active, in which the client instigates movement while the therapist assists
- weight-bearing, in which the client instigates movement while the therapist assists. This technique helps return muscles to full function
Different soft tissue massage techniques
Effleurage – warming the area and increasing blood flow: when light massage strokes are used to warm the area up and increase blood flow, in preparation for deep massage work
Muscle energy techniques (MET) – stretching stiff muscles: this stretching technique uses the contraction and relaxation of the muscle to create an effective and gradual stretch, helping to improve range of movement and flexibility
Trigger point therapy – releasing areas of tension: when the therapist presses and holds onto the trigger area or muscle knot to release it. This may feel uncomfortable to begin with, but any discomfort will ease off after a few seconds as the area releases
Deep transverse frictions – breaking down scar tissue: a deep and targeted massage, applied using long movements, it helps to align soft-tissue fibres and breaks down scar tissue
Myofascial release – reducing tightness: this technique is used to reduce tightness by releasing and stretching the thin layer of connective tissue surrounding the muscle called the fascia
Soft tissue release was developed as a treatment for Olympic athletes. However, the approach can be adapted to treat any type of muscular injury, sports-related or otherwise. Individuals experiencing compromised motion due to arthritis, being in a wheelchair, or other factors may also benefit from soft tissue release.
In addition, this approach can be used to address muscular tension and imbalances, restricted joint movement, posture and balance issues, general strain and other specific issues such as:
- medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)
- lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- chronic pain
- carpel tunnel syndrome