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How to Get Relief from Pain with Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques
Posted by: Marc Browner
Category: Soft Tissue

How to Get Relief from Pain with Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques


Soft tissue and skin conditions account for over 14 million outpatient visits annually in the US. But what makes up the soft tissue, and how exactly does mobilization therapy assist in relieving pain and injury?


Soft tissue is a broad term used to define “the mesenchymal tissue that support and surround more well-defined organs and specific tissues.” The human body is made up of 70% soft tissue, which includes tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fat, fibrous tissues, and synovial membranes, as well as muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. Injuries to the soft tissue result in sprains, strains, bursitis, tendonitis, contusions, and repetitive stress injuries.


To treat the pain and discomfort associated with these conditions, chiropractors and physical therapists use soft tissue mobilization for the localization, evaluation, and treatment of affected soft tissue for the purpose of creating positive effects on the musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory systems. This therapy addresses both athletes who get the occasional injury and trauma and regular people interested in alleviating the discomfort caused by everyday and occupational stresses.


Unlike massage therapy, which is an overarching technique to relieve tension in muscles and joints, soft tissue mobilization therapy is applied very specifically for the treatment of certain musculoskeletal and nervous disorders. By relaxing the myofascial trigger points ( areas of the body where tissue becomes thick, tough, and knotted), soft tissue mobilization aims to break down adhesions, reduce swelling and edema, decrease pain, stimulate tissue regeneration, lengthen muscles and tendons, improve range of motion, and restore functionality.


DIY: Self Soft Tissue Mobilization Exercises Using a Foam Roll


Self Soft Tissue Mobilization Exercises Using a Foam Roll


Incorporating the following mobilization techniques in your daily workout routine will enhance blood circulation and provide relief from tension, so that you can have better coordination and greater range of motion in your everyday life.

  1. The Adductor Release (for adductor-related groin pain)
  • While face down on the floor, extend the thighs and place the foam rolling the groin area
  • Roll with caution near the adductor complex origins at the pelvis
  • Upon discovering a tender point, stop the rolling, and hold for 30-45 seconds until most of the pain is gone.
  1. The Quadriceps Release (for quadriceps pain, tendonitis, strains, etc.)
  • While face down on the ground, keep your quadriceps rolling on the foam roll
  • Maintain correct posture and core control at all times to avoid low-back compensations
  • Role from the pelvis to the knee, giving particular attention to the outer thigh
  • Upon identifying a tender point, stop the rolling and hold for 30-45 seconds until most of the pain is gone
  1. The Upper-Back Release (for muscular irritation, joint dysfunction, etc.)
  • With your back on the floor and the foam roll beneath your shoulder blades, place your hands behind your head and raise your hips
  • Keep the head in a neutral position
  • Start slowly rolling the mid-section of your back on the foam roll
  • Upon identifying a tender point, stop the rolling and hold for 30-45 seconds until most of the pain is gone
  1. The Hamstring Release (for pulled hamstrings, strains, tendinitis, etc.)
    • Put the foam roll beneath your hamstrings, with hips unsupported
    • Cross the feet so that only one leg at a time is on the foam roller
    • Roll from your posterior hip to the knee
    • Upon identifying a tender point, stop the rolling and hold for 30-45 seconds until most of the pain is gone


When It’s Time to Visit a Specialist


Chiropractor Naples Fl

Although the exercises above and others may provide relief from minor injury and trauma, they do not address the cause of the pain (so as to stop it and prevent future discomfort), nor they replace the need for strengthening and lengthening your muscles. Whether it’s your shoulder, groin, hip, or hamstring, soft tissue injuries should be best treated by a specialist. He can work with you and tell you not only what the EXACT issue is, but also list the steps you need to fix it.


To be able to implement soft tissue mobilization techniques correctly, chiropractors require significant training in physiology and human anatomy and must be able to understand how tissue manipulation can ultimately impact physical function. Some of the techniques your licensed chiropractor will likely use include:

  • Sustained pressure applied directly on the restricted tissue
  • Parallel mobilization that pushes along the seams of muscles
  • Perpendicular mobilization that uses right angles to push on the affected tissue
  • Direct oscillations that rhythmically push on the restricted tissue
  • Unlocking spiral that uses rotating motions (alternating clockwise and counterclockwise) to push on the restricted tissue
  • Friction massage that pushes across the grain of muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Chiropractors who specialize in this technique use special instruments to localize and break up soft tissue fibrosis in order to provide relief for some of the most troublesome conditions for sports enthusiasts: tennis elbow, knee pain, Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tendonitis, and many others. Athletes who suffer from chronic or old muscle injuries can greatly benefit from soft tissue mobilization therapy.

To help you achieve optimal results, your local chiropractor will also design an effective exercise plan for home use and make certain nutrition suggestions to help you maintain a normal body weight during treatment.



About the Author

Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.


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