What’s The Difference Between Massage & Soft Tissue Manipulation?

sports massage - soft tissue massage

Physical complaints like aches, pains and twinges are certainly not uncommon, whether they’re caused by overuse of the muscles and joints, poor posture or an injury of some kind… but you don’t have to live with them and, in fact, it’s important that you don’t ignore them as they can get worse over time.

There’s a lot that can be done to bring relief to the discomfort you’re experiencing, although the appropriate course of treatment will depend on what’s wrong and what’s causing the issue.

Massage therapy and soft tissue manipulation are both ways in which you can address your symptoms and restore normal function… but the two are not exactly the same and it’s important to understand the differences so you can ensure you’re seeking out the best option for your particular set of circumstances.

Note that both forms of therapy are from the same family, but while massage is generally used to help ease stress in the body, helping to promote relaxation and get rid of aches and pains, soft tissue manipulation is a more clinical approach where the aim is to restore function and close attention is paid to different parts of the body, including muscles, nerves, tendons, fascia, cartilage, ligaments and so on.

Of course, this helps to relieve aches and pains in the same way that massage therapy can but it is also an effective way to treat the likes of sprains, strains, tendon injuries and any issues you have with your connective tissue.

Techniques you’ll come across with soft tissue manipulation include friction massage, putting sustained pressure on restricted tissue, rhythmic pushing, using unlocking rotation motions and parallel mobilisation, where pressure is put on the seams of the muscle

Benefits include reduced joint pain, less muscle tension, better flexibility and range of motion, increased blood circulation and lengthened fascia.

Massage therapy, meanwhile, comes in many forms and there are different techniques used in each. Swedish massage, for example, features a gentle touch to encourage rest and relaxation, while deep tissue massage really focuses on getting deep into the muscles.

Benefits include better sleep, improved immune function, reduced muscle tension and reduced stress and anxiety.

So there you have it! A quick glimpse into the main differences between the two forms of therapy. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with the Clear Physio team today.

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