A New Tool for Muscle Related Pain Relief: Soft Tissue Therapies

The musculoskeletal system is vital to maintaining the integrity and protection of all other systems within our bodies. Collagen, the most abundant structural protein in our bodies, is a major component of skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and blood vessels. This fundamental protein helps keep our connective tissues strong, our joints moving smoothly, and our skin resilient.

Additionally the influences of the fascial system are connected to the internal facets of the nervous and sensory systems, helping to monitor pain and provide feedback about body’s position in space. Research has found that the fascia is one of the richest sensory organs in the body, facilitating coordination of full body movements.1

There are various techniques aimed at releasing scar tissue, adhesions, and fascial restrictions.  Therapeutic examples related to working on this protective matrix include chiropractic adjustment and manipulation, massage, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, movement, trigger point therapy, reflexology, Asian bodywork, and craino-sacral therapy.

The goal of therapy is to provide an optimal environment for healing, by either modifying physiologic responses to injury or enhancing components of normal musculoskeletal function. These types of myofascial interventions also help to get hydration and nourishment to the tissues. Well-hydrated and agile fascia is crucial to maintaining the natural prerequisites for alignment and function.

It is important to consider why the fascia, cartilage and/or bone is misaligned, damaged or weakened in the first place. There may be an underlying nutrient deficiency, a lack of hydration, an injury, or an excess stress on the system.

Soft tissue work is not just for athletes. Many of us have patterns and habits of repetitive strain such as working at a desk for 8 hours a day or lifting children in and out of a vehicle. Sometimes these ailments can arise from a lack of overall activity rather than too much activity.

Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization can help to release tension and, by breaking down any scar tissue that may have started to form, allows muscle fibers to slide happily, preventing dysfunction in the muscle which can lead to potential longstanding issues.

Scar tissue and adhesions are also formed during the healing process. When scar tissue is created after injury, new cells are laid down in a disorganized manner.  Studies have shown clinical benefits of soft tissue mobilization with improvements in range of motion, strength and pain perception following treatment.

  1. Schleip, Robert, et al., Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body (Elsevier, 2012), 77.
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