What is soft tissue treatment?
Soft tissue treatment involves the assessment and treatment of any soft tissue injury that is causing pain and abnormal function. Soft tissues include ligaments, tendons, muscles and fascia. At Physio.co.uk, the physiotherapists use a number of soft tissue treatments depending on your symptoms.
Types of soft tissue treatment:
Myofascial release: Fascia is bands of connective tissue that covers and supports all structures in the body including bones, nerves, muscles, tendons and organs. Therefore myofascia is fascia surrounding the muscles. The fascia can become tight and restricted following an injury and this may cause pain or reduced movement. At Physio.co.uk the physiotherapists carry out myofascial release which includes applying pressure and holding this pressure to areas of tight myofascia to stretch the fascia and release any pain and tension.
Trigger points: Trigger points are localised areas of tight and irritable muscle caused by small ‘knots’ in the muscle fibres which are not being delivered oxygen and nutrients. They may present as a lump or twitch and cause pain and tenderness either in the surrounding area. Physiotherapists locate trigger points and apply deep strokes with their fingers, thumbs or elbows and hold this position. This technique aims to relieve local or referred pain, muscle spasm and improve your range of movement.
Massage: Massage is a treatment used by physiotherapists to stimulate the soft tissues in your body in order to relieve pain, improve circulation and relax you.
Deep transverse frictions: This technique involves applying deep forces at a right angle to an area of injured soft tissue. The aim of this is to realign the fibres of the soft tissue in an organised way to improve their functional ability and strength. At Physio.co.uk, the physiotherapists will use deep transverse frictions to try and increase muscle length, improve circulation, stimulate the healing process and reduce pain.
Heat therapy: physiotherapists apply heat to soft tissue if the injury is in a chronic stage. Heat will increase the blood flow to the area and therefore enhance the healing process and remove waste products that may be causing you pain. Heat can be applied in the form of hot towels, hot packs and wraps and gels.
Cold therapy/ Cyrotherapy: cold therapy is used by physiotherapists for an acute and inflamed injury. This helps to reduce blood flow and any excess swelling of the area. Cold therapy can also restrict the nerve pathways for pain. Cold is applied by ice packs, cold sprays, wraps and gels or compression wraps which further reduces any swelling.
Electrotherapy: this is used by physiotherapists to enhance the healing process of soft tissues. Types of electrotherapy include ultrasound, interferential stimulation, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation), PSWD (Pulsed Short -Wave Diathermy).
Stretching: the physiotherapists at Physio.co.uk may include stretching exercises in your treatment if you have tight and short muscles. The stretch is a position further than the normal range of movement which is then held to increase the length of the muscle. Dynamic stretching involves an active movement whereas static stretches are held in one position for 30 seconds.
Tissue mobilisations: physiotherapists can mobilise areas of soft tissue to improve the mobility and range of movement. This is commonly done with scars following an operation or injury and soft tissue mobilisations can be applied to the area to stretch and reduce any stiffness of the scar.
Hold relax/muscle energy techniques: this involves contracting a muscle maximally which will then cause a maximum relaxation of this muscle. Stretching techniques can be used to mobilise a joint, reduce tightness and increase range of movement. This is either done by autogenic inhibition which contracts the tight muscle to produce a maximum relaxation, or reciprocal inhibition which maximally contracts the opposite muscle to create a relaxation of the tight muscle.
Benefits of soft tissue treatment
The physiotherapists at Physio.co.uk will use soft tissue treatment to promote a number of benefits:
- Reduced pain
- Increased range of movement
- Increased soft tissue length
- Reduced swelling
- Increased muscle strength
- Increased mobility
- Accelerated healing process
- Greater functional ability
- Reduced risk of re-injury
- Faster recovery from injury