A soft tissue mobilization is a form of manual physical therapy that uses hands-on techniques on your muscles and ligaments to heal scar tissue that sometimes forms after a soft tissue injury. Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM) uses stretching and deep pressure to break up rigid muscle tissue, relax muscle tension, and move fluids trapped in the tissues that cause pain and inflammation. STM is used to treat soft tissue injuries including muscle strains and sprains. It is a type of manual therapy. Soft Tissue Mobilization aids in relaxing tense muscles, reducing scar tissue, and stretching and lengthening fascia to improve range of motion.
What Are The Types Of Soft Tissue Mobilization?
Strain-Counterstrain: The technique uses passive positioning to relieve muscle, joint, and tissue tightness. A physical therapist will identify specific pain points and hold the position anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 minutes to relax the soft tissue, reducing pain and stiffness.
Graston Technique: The Graston Technique uses a specially designed stainless steel tool to treat scar tissue. This special technique allows for faster rehabilitation. Studies show the Graston technique for low back pain reduces pain and increases range of motion.
ASTYM: ASTYM treatment uses a specialized plastic tool to stimulate the breakdown of scar tissue and promotes regeneration and improved muscle and joint function. Scar tissue can cause muscle tension, limited flexibility, and range of motion restrictions. ASTYM has been proven to be a highly effective treatment for chronic tendonitis and bursitis as it reduces inflammation.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD): This type of soft tissue mobilization uses specific manual hand movements that follow anatomical lymph pathways, helping to move fluid and improve circulation. Manual Lymphatic Drainage for headaches, migraines, swollen legs, and more.
Manual traction: Manual traction for sciatica or bulging or herniated discs is an effective type of manual therapy for individuals suffering from back pain. It is a type of decompression therapy helping to relieve tension on the spine. Manual traction is an applied pressure lasting for a few seconds in duration, stretching the spine and taking pressure off the lumbar discs. It can also be applied as a sudden, quick thrust.
Trigger Point Therapy / Myofascial Release: Myofascial release is a soft tissue manual therapy for the treatment of chronic muscular pain and immobility. Myofascial release focuses on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the specified areas of pain. It is a type of massage also known as “deep tissue work”.
Cross friction: This type of manual therapy aims to maintain mobility within the soft tissue structures of ligament, tendon, and muscle and prevent scars from forming. It is a specific, localized deep tissue massage that must be applied transversely (cross) to the identified location of the pain. Cross friction massage is beneficial in reducing pain and regenerating connective tissue, aiding in the healing process.
How Does It Work?
Your therapist will start by performing a physical exam. They’ll identify problem areas and determine your range of motion in the affected joints. Depending on your condition, they may recommend several sessions of mobilization therapy. During mobilization therapy, your therapist may use a variety of techniques. For example, they may apply gentle pressure and stretch the affected tissue. Soft tissue mobilization works by mobilizing muscles and therefore breaking up scar tissue. The mobilizations also help to remove waste products from the damaged area which increases the speed of the healing process. Soft tissue mobilization also helps to release the tension in the muscle which increases flexibility and range of movement.
Mobilization therapy is useful for treating certain problems that can affect your upper and lower extremities, as well as neck and back pain.
Potential problems in your upper extremities include: