Soft tissue mobilization (STM) is a manual therapy treatment involving rhythmic stretching and deep pressure on muscles, ligaments, fascia and other soft tissues in the body in order to break up fibrous muscle tissue (myofascial adhesions), relax muscle tension and move fluids trapped in the tissues. It may be used for muscle relaxation, to decrease swelling, to decrease scar tissue adhesions and to relieve pain and inflammation.
Surgery, prolonged immobilization, a traumatic injury or repetitive strain can cause soft tissue to shorten and restrict the natural movement of a joint. Inflammation causes soft tissue to thicken, which can further impede joint function.
Licensed physical therapists use a variety soft tissue mobilization techniques, including the ones listed below, to break down these adhesions and stimulate tissue regeneration.
- Graston Technique and other Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) Interventions
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
- Manual Traction
- Muscle Energy Techniques (METs)
- Trigger Point Therapy / Myofascial Release
- Cross Friction
Soft tissue mobilization techniques are performed by hand or with specialized handheld instruments to deliver a controlled microtrauma to the affected area. This stimulates a local inflammatory response, which starts reabsorption of excessive scar tissue and leads to a cascade of healing activities that helps break down adhesions, allowing you to regain function. Soft tissue mobilization is a safe and effective form of physical therapy that will help speed recovery and restore function to injured muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue.