Soft tissue mobilization is a form of manual physical therapy where your licensed physical therapist uses hands-on techniques on your muscles, ligaments, and fascia intending to break adhesions and optimizing your muscle function.

Adhesions are your body’s attempt to heal a soft tissue injury with a lengthy inflammation process, resulting in long strands of collagenous scar tissue. These new tissues pull against one another, forming trigger points of pain.

Goals of Soft Tissue Mobilization:

  • Break down or reduce adhesions
  • Improve range of motion
  • Lengthen muscles and tendons
  • Reduce swelling and edema
  • Decrease pain
  • Restore functionality

Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques

Your licensed PT is specially trained to use his or her hands to push, pull and knead your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves in precise ways to help bring you pain relief and restore you to functionality.

Specific techniques for soft tissue mobilization include:

Soft Tissue Massage

  • Sustained pressure – pushing directly on the restricted tissue and holding
  • Unlocking spiral – pushing on the restricted tissue in alternating clockwise and counterclockwise rotating motions
  • Direct oscillations – rhythmic pushing on the restricted tissue
  • Perpendicular mobilization – pushing on the myofascial tissue at right angles
  • Parallel mobilization – pushing along the seams of muscles
  • Perpendicular strumming – rhythmic pushing along muscle border, followed by rubber of top of muscle
  • Friction massage – pushing across the grain of the muscles, tendons and ligaments

Soft tissue mobilization can help relieve pain and increase function. To help achieve optimal outcomes with soft tissue mobilization, we encourage you to:

  • Do your home exercises faithfully
  • Maintain a normal body weight
  • Get regular aerobic exercise
  • Engage in weight training, as directed by your physician

Being able to perform soft tissue mobilization techniques requires a significant amount of training in human anatomy and physiology and understand how manipulating the tissues will impact physical function. Physical therapists specialize in the evaluation, assessment, and treatment of movement function disorders. Soft tissue mobilization is just one of the strategies that we use to help our patients meet their functional goals.

If you have any strains, sprains, or questions about the techniques used in soft tissue mobilization, give us a call!

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