Faster Healing For Muscle And Tendon Injuries
Soft Tissue Release (STR) is a hands-on Deep Tissue “Massage” Therapy for dramatically speeding up the healing process (and shortening the rehab time) of muscle and tendon injuries.
It’s different from other methods in that the muscle or tendon is pressed on at the same time the muscle is stretched.
This may not sound like a huge distinction, but having worked with STR more than ten years, I assure you it’s profoundly more effective than anything else I’ve seen at releasing stubborn, restricted, “stuck places” in muscles and tendons.
Here’s what I’ve found it to be exceptional for:
Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow
Tendonitis / Tendinosis in general
Rotator Cuff Injuries + most shoulder injuries
The # 1 Reason Muscles & Tendons Need STR
If you have an injury involving the tearing of your muscles or other tissues that injury is going to get repaired with scar tissue. (Unavoidably.)
Scar Tissue is NOT muscle or tendon – It’s a patch of gluey stuff, (collagen) and even after it’s formed – healing is still miles away from being finished.
It’s essential to understand that the healing process tends to be sloppy and excessive, like when they patch a pothole in the road… Is it ever smooth and level? There’s always a bump left, isn’t there?
An injury to your muscles and tendons can literally cause them to get stuck – Glued together within their layers and to each other, because of this imperfect, “cram-the-pothole-way” that Scar Tissue forms.
And Soft Tissue Release is the fastest way I know of to help free your muscles and tendons from all that restrictive Scar Tissue stickiness and make the road smooth for you again.
Why Stretching And Exercise May Not Be Enough To Free Your Muscles From The Scar Tissue
The theory is that with the right stretching and strengthening rehab program your injured muscle or tendon will become stronger and more flexible.
But is that really working for you?
Or are you finding that even when you try your best to stretch and strengthen, your muscles almost seem to refuse to lengthen and return to normal? (!)
Even under the very best of circumstances when you’re doing a full program of Physical Therapy with all the icing and heating, ultrasound, E-stim – and of course, the stretching and exercising…
You can still end up with muscles and or tendons that feel very tight, restricted, painful and stubbornly resistant to your efforts.Still stuck – Literally, because of that excessive Scar Tissue.
Why is that? For one thing, none of those things – (except the stretching) are efficient ways of releasing the Scar Tissue – If they help at all.
In fact, the ONLY things that help release Scar Tissue are various Massage Therapies and stretching.
(Strength training exercise helps in a different way, but for now we’re talking about releasing the restrictions from the Scar Tissue. See my “How Muscles And Tendons Heal” article for more detail about the whole healing process and where exercise comes in.)
But here’s the catch: When you stretch (or someone stretches you) your own nervous system tends to defend against that stretch reflexively.
Your nervous system is just being overprotective of the injured area – Guarding it even after the healing has finished (the repair and scarring part, anyway)
Think about when your Doctor gives you that test for your reflexes where they tap on your knee (Patellar Tendon) with that little mallet and you kick your leg involuntarily…
Can you override that if you try? No, because it’s a reflex, which means it’s automatic and beyond your conscious control.
And it’s a very similar (but opposite) reflex that you come up against when you try to stretch – especially an injured muscle.
It’s extremely difficult to push past this Protective Guarding Reflex. Usually you end up fighting it – and if you or someone else stretching your muscles is too aggressive, you can end up suddenly worsening your injury.
How STR Helps Release Your Scar Tissue And Restore Your Normal Muscle Flexibility
At first glance, it’s simple: Soft Tissue Release combines simultaneous pressure “massage” and stretching to get the maximum release effect.
By using just the right amount pressure and friction on your muscle or tendon and just the right amount of tension – through the stretch – we can rapidly free up the restrictions caused by your Scar Tissue.
And we can do it without being too aggressive and causing unnecessary pain or triggering that reflex.
The way we avoid setting off your Protective Guarding Reflex with STR is by only stretching for a second or two each time!
Yes, a one or two second stretch! – NOT 15 or 30 seconds or a couple of minutes, like you’re advised to do by almost everyone…
That long-hold stretching SHOULD be gone with the Dinosaurs – It’s how you end up battling with your own stretch/guarding reflex and getting nowhere – Or worse, getting re-injured, (whether it’s a practitioner like me doing it or you’re doing the stretching yourself.)
So, the STR recipe is simultaneous pressure, friction and a very brief stretch.
And then it’s repeated five, ten or fifteen times on that area of the muscle.
As the therapist, I can often feel the lump of Scar Tissue or otherwise thickened, restricted area getting thinner and freer with each “pass,” amazingly.What you experience on your end it that:
It often feels fantastic – as it releases all those Scar Tissue restrictions…
Your muscles feel freer and looser – You get an immediate sense of increased flexibility (in a way that tends to last, unlike the way a regular relaxation massage tends to “wear off” after a few hours),
You often get some immediate relief from the pain – Especially from problems like Tennis Elbow, Tendonitis, and Rotator Cuff injuries – (Which all tend to have a lot of Scar Tissue or other restrictions that Soft Tissue Release excels at freeing up!)
You might also want to read my “How Muscles And Tendons Heal” article for more detail about the healing process and how Soft Tissue Release can help.)