|How Does Soft Tissue Release Work?
The essence of the approach is a method of applying pressure to a muscle at the same time the muscle is being stretched. This coordinated movement has a correcting effect on all muscular imbalances, including injured areas where scar tissue has formed.
The "secret" to the success of the technique is that it's not just another way of manipulating your muscles—it's a way of communicating with your nervous system.
Lasting, often permanent change is achieved by engaging your autonomic nervous system, the powerful mechanism that controls your heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and other essential life functions.
The rhythmic pressure through a stretch routine of the technique appeals to the language of your nervous system, enlisting it in re-programming your muscles. "Engaging muscle memory" is what this is called. (Think of it as pressing the reset button on your muscles.)
Muscle memory, just like it sounds, is your nervous system's memory of how your muscles should normally be (not too tight, not too loose.)
Trauma to your muscles—even if that trauma is microscopic (micro trauma)—triggers the inflammation process and causes your nervous system to shorten or "shut down" your muscles to protect them, which leads to loss of flexibility and pain. (Learn more about this process at the How muscles heal page.)
Once muscle memory is engaged, your muscles return to their normal length and tone, the inflammation process stops, and relief from pain immediately follows.
What To Expect In Your Treatment
Don't worry, although Soft Tissue Release may sound like the kind of rough technique you need to bite down on a piece of wood to get through—it's not.
You don't have to endure even more pain to get out of pain.
Do expect to move around more than you would in a relaxation massage therapy session though—The special stretches and movements are part of what makes this technique so effective.
(You will also learn some of these stretches along with unique self-care techniques, which you can do on your own to accelerate and maintain your progress.)
What to wear: There's no need to get completely undressed like you might for a Swedish or relaxation-type massage session.
Just bring some type of athletic wear to change into, as in shorts for men or shorts and some kind of top, like a sports bra, for women. (Lycra is a good all-around choice since it's not bulky and stretches well.)
Is Soft Tissue Release What You Need?
If you're experiencing pain related to any of the following, Soft Tissue Release is often surprisingly effective at quickly correcting the soft tissue and neuromuscular factors (which, in my opinion, are usually the source of the pain 95 to 100% of the time—in ALL of the below:
• Back pain
• Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome
• Car accident-related soft tissue injuries
• Computer-related strain/injury
• Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
• Sports injuries including:
* Hamstring, quad, or IT band strain
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or other Repetitive Strain Injuries including:
* Adductor or groin injury
* Plantar fasciitis
* Heel pain
* Shin splints
* Knee pain
* Tendonitis / Tendinitis or Tenosynovitis
* Tennis elbow
* Golfer's elbow
* Rotator cuff injury
* Frozen shoulder problems