Physical therapists use a wide range of techniques to treat issues related to physical pain and functional movement limitations. Manual physical therapy is a subset of physical therapy in which the physical therapist uses hands-on treatments to correct specific problems. Soft tissue mobilization is one form of manual physical therapy. Here is what you should know.
What Is Soft Tissue Mobilization?
When soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and fascia are injured, the body attempts to repair the damage through a lengthy process of inflammation. This leads to long strands of scar tissue known as adhesions. These adhesions tend to pull against each other as you move, creating pain trigger points. In soft tissue mobilization, your physical therapist will push, pull, and knead your soft tissues in specific ways to reduce pain and restore functionality.
Goals of Soft Tissue Mobilization
- Break down adhesions
- Lengthen muscles and tendons
- Reduce swelling
- Decrease pain
- Restore function
- Improve range of motion
Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques
Like all forms of physical therapy, soft tissue mobilization relies on specific techniques that are uniquely combined to meet each individual patient’s needs. These techniques include, but are limited to:
Sustained pressure: Pushing and holding directly on the affected tissues
Unlocking spiral: Pushing on the affected tissues in alternating clockwise and counterclockwise directions
Direct oscillations: Pushing and releasing the affected tissues in a rhythmic, pulsing manner
Perpendicular mobilization: Pushing at right angles to the affected tissues
Parallel mobilization: Pushing the muscles along their seams
Perpendicular strumming: Rhythmically pulsing pressure along the muscle borders and then on top of the muscle
Friction massage: Massaging the muscles, tendons, and ligaments across their grain
Participating in Your Own Treatment
Like all forms of physical therapy, soft tissue mobilization requires your active participation to achieve the best results. Here are some ways you can help to optimize your results:
- Do your home exercises as directed
- Maintain a normal body weight
- Get regular aerobic exercise
- Perform weight training, if approved by your doctor
Soft tissue mobilization is just one important element of a full physical therapy treatment plan. If you are experiencing pain or limited functionality anywhere in your body, or are recovering from an injury, ask your physician if physical therapy is the right choice for you. Many patients find that physical therapy helps them reduce pain, improve function, and return to full form in less time than those who do not seek physical therapy.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready for the latest physical therapy treatments for your pain or injury, contact Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.