Soft tissue work has been gaining popularity over the years as a stand-alone therapy or as an adjunct to other treatment modalities.
As a stand-alone therapy there are many systems and techniques available with the aims of obtaining a favorable perception and outcome.
Benefits of Soft Tissue / Myofascial Techniques
Mechanical Some of these benefits include changes to the mechanical and cellular properties of soft tissues that may decrease pain, by decreasing pro- inflammatory proteins and cytokine production. A reported decrease in viscosity, stiffness and enhance movement are commonly reported by both athlete and clinician. Some key variables in soft tissue techniques may restore muscle function by mechanotransduction, changes in fascial hydration, reducing adhesions due to injury or restricted movements simultaneously influencing mechanoreceptors and the autonomic nervous system.
Psychological Some of the most widely reported benefits of massage in research are the psychological effects. Some of these include a reduction in anxiety levels, stress, tension and depression. At the same time positively elevating mood scores and quality of life measures.
Combined Treatment The musculoskeletal system works as unit; therefore using a multimodal approach that integrates various manual therapies together to increase range and decrease pain may be a useful as the first step prior to beginning an exercise rehabilitation programe.
The effects of massage may vary due to the variables in style, or type of technique including, the clinicians knowledge and experience, the applied force and speed involved, frequency and length of treatment.
These days most teams and sporting bodies employ massage therapists as part of their sports medicine team. Due to the different stages in a game or competition, Sports Massage techniques can be divided into four distinct categories: Pre game, Post game, Fine-tuning and Rehabilitation.
Receiving a massage within two hours of an event has been shown to have a positive affect on (DOMS) or delayed onset muscle soreness, by reducing pain, swelling, serum CK (markers of muscle damage) compared to controls.
Optimal effects are gained by administering the massage as soon as possible post exercise.
A study that combined massage for 30 minutes immediately after exercise in conjunction with compression garments reported less pain, with a positive effect on both muscle soreness and performance
A N Schoeder, M T Best. 2015 Is self Myofascial release an effective Pre-exercise and Recovery Strategy? A literature review. ACSM Current Sports Medicine Reports, 14 (3)
S J Warden, W R Thompson.2017 Become one with the force: optimizing mechanotherapy through an understanding of mechanobiology. BJSM, 51 (13).
M Zügel, C N Constantinos, N Magnaris, J Wilke et al.2018 Fascial tissue researching sports medicine: from molecules to tissue adaptation, injury and diagnosis. BJSM. Published on line first 02 August 2018.