Soft tissue mobilization, like therapeutic massage, has been used in different parts of the world for thousands of years. Most people know that massage can be used to treat tight muscles, but did you know that there are other soft tissue mobilization techniques that might be a better option? Our therapists use a variety of deep manual treatment techniques that directly target deep structures ranging from fascia to joints.
Massage is one example of soft tissue mobilization, but there are other techniques that work for specific injuries and conditions. Physiotherapists can diagnose your problem and determine which soft tissue technique should be used to get you in tip-top shape again.
What exactly is soft tissue mobilization?
Soft tissue manipulation or mobilization is an umbrella term for different kinds of manual (i.e. hands-on) techniques. What all these techniques have in common is that a mechanical force, or pressure, is applied to soft tissue. So how does your physiotherapist decide which technique is right for your condition? That depends on your injury and the goal of your treatment.
Let’s take a calf muscle tear as an example. In the earliest stages of the injury, you will still have a lot of pain, swelling, and bruising. A gentle, superficial soft tissue technique will be appropriate at this stage to encourage circulation and healing. On the other hand, using deep pressure at this point will only cause further bleeding and damage to your muscle. After the initial phase of the injury, pain improves and muscle stiffness takes its place. By now, your physiotherapist can start using deep tissue mobilization to regain range of movement and treat the muscle stiffness.
Your physiotherapist won’t just automatically choose therapeutic massage for your injury. We will always assess and adapt to your condition, making sure we apply the right soft tissue techniques for your problem.
Soft tissue is literally all the “soft” parts in your body. This includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and the membranes inside your joints.
Why we use soft tissue techniques:
Soft tissue mobilization is used by physiotherapists to treat various musculoskeletal conditions. Almost every treatment will include one or more of these techniques. Superficial techniques, like effleurage, can be used for pain relief and to help desensitize injured structures. Deeper techniques, like trigger point therapy, will be used for other conditions like stiffness or tight muscles. Your physiotherapist might even use a combination of soft tissue techniques during your session, depending on your diagnosis and symptoms, stage of healing and tolerance.