What is Soft Tissue Release Technique?

Soft Tissue Release (STR) is an advanced massage technique used to assess and stretch soft tissue. It is designed around the area of Neuromuscular Therapy, with a strong connection to the central nervous system. By using the right amount of pressure and tension on tissue it is possible to free up restrictions caused by scar tissue. It involves the manipulation of tissue through application of direct pressure whilst mobilising a joint. As with all techniques that fit under the umbrella term of NMT, the static pressure on the muscle encourages a message to be sent via the Golgi tendons and muscle spindles, to the brain, and then the muscle relaxes. The Golgi tendon operates as protection, controlling the tension of an active muscle, causing relaxation before the tension becomes too much and causes damage to the muscle. The muscle spindles are then reset as a change in length occurs as the muscle relaxes.

Benefits also include the realignment of muscle fibres, restoring the balance between agonists and antagonists providing functional balance, and restoring range of movement and mobilisation of a joint. By applying either a specific or broad lock, a temporary attachment point is created and a maximum stretch achieved of the muscle fibres free to work. Effleurage and petrissage techniques can be used to warm up the area by increasing blood flow and pliability of the muscle before performing an STR technique, but is not essential. A therapist would then apply a lock (broad first before more specific to the fibres) to a shortened muscle or tissue in a neutral position. Either actively, where the client facilitates the movement, or passively, where the therapist facilitates the joint movement, the muscle is lengthened. This technique can be repeated starting distal to the mobilising joint, working proximally, decreasing the muscle length and muscle fibres available for lengthening one step at a time. Care should be taken on recent injury sites and avoided during the inflammatory stage of healing so not to increase healing time. STR can have an immediate effect on pain levels. By using a specific lock it can have an effect on localised areas of tension that only affect a small number of fibres.

When locking into a tissue, it is essential to safeguard your own joints as a therapist. Broad locks can be performed using the forearm, ulna border of the hand, or a splayed hand. Alternative specific locks, rather than using fingers or thumbs, can be held using the elbow, knuckles, or reinforced fingers or thumbs.

Please contact me if you think that you could benefit from Soft Tissue Release.

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