Sports Massage Therapy

What Are The Different Types of Soft Tissue Mobilisation?

Breeze Academy January 19, 2023
Massage being performed on a woman's back

You may have heard of mobilisation as a treatment for a range of soft tissue conditions but are you aware of the specific soft tissue mobilisation techniques that are used to treat such conditions? In this article, we go over some of the most common techniques that therapists use to restore function and reduce pain in clients with soft tissue concerns. 

So, what are the different types of soft tissue mobilisation? There are a number of different soft tissue mobilisation techniques, but the most commonly used include Positional Release, Cross Friction, ASTYM & IASTM Graston Techniques and Trigger Point Therapy. These techniques are commonly used by various medical professionals to restore muscular functionality and reduce pain.

Read on to learn more about the different soft tissue mobilisation techniques and the conditions they can help to treat.

The Different Types of Soft Tissue Mobilisation and When to Use Them

Soft tissue mobilisation is an umbrella term for massage and manual therapy techniques that therapists can utilise to restore or optimise function after injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. There are a variety of soft tissue mobilisation techniques that can be used to relax the muscles and enhance an individual’s range of motion; these include:

Positional Release

In this soft tissue mobilisation technique, therapists locate key pain points before using passive body positioning tactics to relieve muscle and joint tightness. This involves holding the identified pain points in position for up to three minutes to ease the tender soft tissue into relaxation. This encourages the muscle to relax back into its regular functioning position and usually offers immediate relief.

Cross Friction

Cross friction is a type of deep tissue massage, most commonly used at the site of an injury. This technique involves the Massage Therapist applying localised pressure strokes transversely across muscles, tendons or ligaments in order to minimise scar tissue formation. 

ASTYM & IASTM Graston Techniques

ASTYM and IASTM are soft tissue mobilisation techniques that use specially-designed steel or plastic tools to break up scar tissues and activate the body’s natural healing response. By applying mild to moderate pressure with these tools, therapists may be able to reduce inflammation and promote regeneration. 

IASTM provides the additional benefits of superior pain relief, increased range of motion and the ability to self-treat; this soft tissue mobilisation technique can be performed by an individual at home, provided they have the correct tools, which may be a useful way of continuing therapy safely in between appointments.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy involves the therapist putting and holiding pressure on an individual’s trigger points (muscle knots). This temporarily cuts off circulation to the tissue, raising the levels of nitric oxide which then signals the body to increase blood flow in order to break up the trigger point. 

Myofascial release may also be beneficial for trigger points. Myofascial release is a type of massage that is thought to align the fascia around the muscles which helps to improve circulation and encourage normal movement.

Dry needling is another therapy that can help to relieve trigger points. Learn more about this in our recent blog, How Does Dry Needling Release Trigger Points?, where we go into detail about the process; how it works, what happens to the body during treatment, what it feels like, and how long it takes to work. 

Conditions that Soft Tissue Mobilisation Can Help With

Soft tissue mobilisation techniques can help with a variety of conditions, from muscle injuries, sprains and strains through to specific conditions like Sciatica; these include:

  • Muscle injury
  • Muscle spasm
  • Contractures
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Scar tissue
  • Whiplash
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica

Benefits of Soft Tissue Mobilisation

Soft tissue mobilisation comes with a number of benefits associated with mobilisation;  these include:

  • Break down or reduce adhesions
  • Improve range of motion
  • Reduce pain
  • Lengthen muscles and tendons
  • Reduce swelling and edema
  • Restore functionality

How Soft Tissue Mobilisation Fits Into Massage Therapy

Soft tissue mobilisation is a key part of massage therapy, particularly deep tissue massage and sports massage as they utilise a number of soft tissue mobilisation techniques.  The Massage Therapist would first conduct a physical examination of the affected area, identifying particular areas of concern and the range of motion in the affected joints before recommending a number of sessions that include soft tissue  mobilisation techniques.

But, it’s not just Massage Therapists that utilise soft tissue mobilisation; Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and Chiropractors may also use soft tissue mobilisation to help clients restore functionality and reduce pain. 

Massage Therapy Courses with Breeze Academy

Breeze Academy is one of the UK’s leading providers of Sports Massage training with courses available throughout the UK. Our courses are fully accredited by the FHT and are regularly rated five-stars by delegates. We offer Level 3 Sports Massage courses for beginners and Level 4 courses that allow delegates to build on existing knowledge and reach the industry qualification standard. 

Our Level 4 course also provides both theoretical and practical training on soft tissue mobilisation techniques, providing delegates with the knowledge and confidence to competently treat soft tissue injuries and restore functionality.

Learn more about our Sports Massage courses online today, or get in touch with our friendly team. 

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