There are a number of soft tissue therapy techniques which can be successfully employed to assist in the reduction of pain and muscle hypertonicity and spasm. Some of these include massage therapy, trigger point therapy, Transverse Friction Massage (TFM), Active Release Technique ® (ART), Myofascial Release (MFR), Proprioceptive Neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), and acupressure point therapy. The need and benefits of these therapies vary from patient to patient. Depending on your condition and response to treatment we may incorporate one or more of these therapies into your treatment plan.
Soft Tissue Mobilization / Massage Therapy
When trauma occurs, whether it is a single traumatic event or repeated micro-trauma, inflammation follows. The inflammation leads to scar tissue formation within and between the muscles and the other layers of connective tissue. This scar tissue formation decreases the ability of the muscle to lengthen and contract normally, leading to a decrease in range of motion, power output and speed generation. This effect can be very specific within a muscle or can affect the muscle groups very broadly leading to faulty biomechanics that are dysfunctional and inefficient. The scar tissue can also cause pain and predispose a patient to repetitive re-injury. Additionally, pain can lead to muscle guarding and spasm in order to protect the injured area. The purpose of soft tissue mobilization is to restore the normal muscular composition, flexibility, and function to the affected tissue.
Transverse Friction Massage (TFM)
Scar tissue forms when inflammation is present after an acute injury, after repetitive re-injury or post-surgical. The presence of scar tissue often leads to a significant loss of function and increased pain sensitivity. Scar tissue has an increased amount of pain receptors (nociceptors) and therefore increases the amount of pain the athlete perceives. Transverse friction massage (TFM) has been shown to increase fibroblastic activity, break down muscular spasm/scar tissue, and remodel collagen. It involves deep pressure with specifically directed movement in order to remodel scar tissue and restore proper function to the muscles, ligaments and tendons. This allows them to become stronger, more flexible, and more resistant to future injury.
Active Release Technique ® (ART)
Soft tissue shortening is one of the largest causes pulled muscles, muscle weakness and decreased range of motion (ROM). Active Release Technique is one of the most effective ways to lengthen soft tissue. By pinning down a segment of muscle and bringing it through its full ROM, the intramuscular adhesions are separated and the tissue is elongated. This allows the muscle to regain its original length, strength and become more resistant to injury.
Myofascial / Neurofascial Release
Fascia is an extremely tough connective tissue that surrounds almost every structure in the entire body. It functions to provide support, protection, and improves shock absorption during physical activity. When myofascial adhesions are present from repetitive injury, the adhesions bind the muscular tissue, not allowing it to contract or lengthen optimally. Myofascial Release eliminates fascial adhesions acquired post injury or during repetitive sports activities.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) muscle stretching is one of the most effective forms of training to increase static flexibility. It is a set of stretching techniques commonly used in clinical environments to enhance both active and passive range of motion, with the ultimate goal being to optimize motor performance and rehabilitation. The literature regarding PNF has made the technique the optimal stretching method when the aim is to increase range of motion, especially in short-term changes. Generally, an active PNF stretch involves a shortening contraction of the opposing muscle to place the target muscle on stretch. This is followed by an isometric contraction of the target muscle. This form of stretching causes muscular inhibition due to a reflex relaxation within the muscle. PNF can be used to supplement daily stretching and is employed to make quick gains in range of motion to help people, especially athletes, improve performance. Aside from being safe and time efficient, the dramatic gains in range of motion seen in a short period of time may also promote compliance with the exercise and rehabilitation program