What Is Soft Tissue Manipulation?

Going to your Maidenhead physio centre for soft tissue manipulation for the first time can be quite nerve-wracking, as you may not know what to expect… and if you’re in pain for whatever reason, you may be feeling anxious about your level of discomfort as your practitioner oves the affected tissue.

There’s really nothing to worry about when it comes to treatments of this kind, however, and they can be used to cover a wide range of conditions, including helping to mobilise scar tissue (which can help to prevent inflammation).

If you’ve been suffering from the likes of lower back pain, tension headaches, chronic neck pain, shin splints, shoulder strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, sciatic nerve pain, tennis elbow and so on, you could find this particular treatment method especially effective.

If you have very tight tissue some techniques can be a bit uncomfortable, so make sure you remain communicative with your physiotherapist and let them know if it becomes a bit too much for you.

When going to see your physiotherapist for a soft tissue massage for the first time, remember to wear clothing that will make your examination and treatment easy and comfortable. It’s likely that your practitioner will also need to use creams or oils during treatment, so make sure you let them know if you have any skin conditions or are allergic to anything.

Benefits of soft tissue manipulation include improving fluid circulation, relieve pain and reduce swelling in the tissue itself. Joint manipulation often forms part of this kind of treatment, which aims to bring proper motion back to the joints.

You may well have had massages in the past and this is really very similar, with the same benefits associated with it, such as relaxing muscles, increasing blood circulation, helping strained tissue and ligaments heal faster (so great for athletes), strengthening your immune system, increasing endorphins… and lots more.

If you train hard at the gym or do a lot of sport, you’re sure to be familiar with tight muscles… and you might have heard of self-myofascial release, which is where you apply pressure to tight muscles and hard knots to allow the fascia – connective tissue that runs throughout our bodies – to release.

This is something you can easily do yourself in between visits to a local physiotherapist, using a foam roller or similar. Foam rollers may be the best place to start as it can be uncomfortable if you’re doing it for the first time, but there are harder rollers you can invest in if you feel that the foam roller isn’t proving as effective as you’d hoped.

After you’ve been to see your physiotherapist, it’s likely that they will give you an at-home exercise plan to help you manage your long-term symptoms, if you have any. Tissue manipulation and massage can prove a serious relief but it may not address the root cause of the pain.

Home exercise plans will help you to reduce pain and dysfunction, and restore normal movement to your body, so it’s essential that if your physiotherapist does give you one that you follow it as instructed. Doing so will mean you see good results over the long term – and quicker than you might do otherwise.

All exercises will be tailored to you and the issues you’re dealing with, as well as taking into account what your typical daily activities are and your general health. To see real gains as fast as possible, doing the exercises on a daily basis is advisable. Of course, you don’t have to do them at all but it’s likely that you won’t see improvements if you don’t change how your muscles are working.

Other techniques you could look into if you’re really suffering and find that soft tissue massage isn’t as effective as you had hoped include deep tissue massage, rolfing, the Graston technique, dry needling (where a thin needle is used to stimulate a trigger point) and Neurokinetic therapy, where muscle tests are done to identify issues that can then be corrected.

If you’d like any further help or advice relating to any kind of pain or discomfort you may be feeling at the moment, get in touch with us today.

Find out about the benefits of soft tissue massage on scar tissue on the British Skin Foundation website.

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