Soft Tissue Therapy is a targeted clinical massage. It is hands-on bodywork that can get you out of many kinds of painful episodes. Soft tissue therapy reduces tensile and compressive stress on your body and can dramatically speed up the healing process. All patients of Helix Spine & Sport will receive some form of soft tissue treatment as part of their treatment plan.
Soft Tissue Structures Include:
- Muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Nerves, arteries, veins, and lymph nodes
The form of soft tissue techniques utilized in our Oklahoma City Chiropractic office is:
- Active Release Technique (ART)
- Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
- Kinesiology Tape
ART is a patented, state-of-the-art soft tissue system/movement-based technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
- Acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc.)
- Accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
- Not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia)
Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, the tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause a reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.
Myofascial cupping decompression therapy can be useful in the treatment of both acute and chronic injuries. Although it generated popularity during the 2016 Summer Olympics, cupping has been used for hundreds of years. Decompression therapy can be used on anyone from an elite athlete to a 50-year-old desk worker with low back pain. Patients tend to feel an initial discomfort when the cups are applied but many feel immediate relief and improve function with increased range of motion.
The suction created by the cup encourages blood flow. This increased circulation may promote healing and reduce pain. The primary side effects of cupping are bruising and skin irritation. Both should heal on their own in 7-10 days. There is also a small risk of infection.
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a popular treatment for myofascial restriction. IASTM uses specially designed instruments to provide a mobilizing effect to scar tissue and myofascial adhesions. Several IASTM tools and techniques are available such as the Graston® technique. These specially designed stainless steel instruments help the clinician identify and treat areas of the body exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or adhesions. Areas of fibrosis or adhesions are thought to be found in the muscles and connective tissues with some injuries ranging from neck pain to ankle sprains. IASTM allows healthcare providers to get as deep into the tissue as necessary to invoke change, yet be sensitive to patients’ pain and tolerance. As the instruments are moved over the affected area and come in contact with the soft tissue, the action will help restore the tissue’s ability to slide over each other for normal movement and range of motion, decreasing adhesions between layers of tissue. Some will make claims that it breaks up scar tissue, but I assure you, the only things that do that are a scalpel (surgery) and healthy movement over long periods of time. In time, this process will reduce the adhered fibers, restoring range of motion and assisting in eliminating the associated pain. It can help transform your soft tissue injury into healthy functioning tissue.
Kinesiology refers to the study of movement. Kinesio tape, as it’s often called, got its name because it is used to aid muscle movement. It’s a thin, flexible tape that is meant to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, and provide support to joints and muscles.
K-tape was originally developed as a way to enhance athletic performance. But you don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy its benefits.
k-tape recruits blood vessels in a way that helps place blood flow where the tape is applied. The result is increased oxygen and decreased inflammation and swelling.
The tape can also be used to help the body’s lymphatic system drain waste products like lactic acid, which an athlete’s hard-working muscles produce. This helps muscles perform better for longer periods. In addition, k-tape slightly lifts skin, to provide extra space for swollen muscles.