Everything You Need to Know About Soft Tissue Therapy and More

Gain a Deeper Understanding of What Soft Tissue Therapy Is, and How It Can Help Different Muscle Problems

Did you know that about 3 million Americans sustain whiplash injuries every year? Of those 3 million, half of them suffer from chronic pain caused by whiplash, and about 300,000 Americans become disabled due to the pain of whiplash. 

Soft tissue damage can be as simple as a sprained ankle or can be something more severe. Soft tissue damage is painful and can take up to 3 months to heal. Sometimes, soft tissue does not heal properly and can cause permanent damage. 

Soft tissue therapy can help break down the issues in the muscles so that your muscles can heal correctly. Soft tissue therapy ensures that there are no long-lasting negative effects on your body. 

In this article, we take a look into soft tissue therapy, the benefits of this natural treatment, and how it can benefit different muscle problems. 

Soft tissue therapy techniques

There are a few different techniques that are used to manipulate soft tissue to help break it down and allow the muscle to heal. You can be certain, however, that no matter which technique is used, is will not be soft or gentle. Soft tissue therapy techniques can be aggressive and can create some discomfort. 

Keep in mind: After your soft tissue therapy, you might feel a bit tender and bruised. Apply heat to the area that was treated. You should not be as uncomfortable the next day. If you are, you need to seek medical help, as something could have been damaged during your session. 

  1. Soft Tissue Release (STR)
    This technique starts with a pressure that is applied to your affected muscle, which will create a temporary attachment point. Then your therapist can move your muscle into a pain-free stretch. This technique is beneficial for targeting specific areas of tension within a muscle. The movement that is done will allow you to stretch out the muscles that you find difficult or painful to stretch on your own. 
  2. Post Isometric Relaxation (PIR)
    This technique is best used on tight hamstrings, which can result in lower back pain. The technique starts with your therapist gently stretching your hamstrings to a point of first resistance. You will then resist your therapist by pushing your leg away from your body for about 10 seconds. You then relax and your therapist will stretch your hamstrings once again. When you’re ready, the resistance level goes up by one and you repeat this 3-5 times. It is a great way for you to reduce muscle spams. 
  3. Myofascial Release (MFR)
    It can take a long time for the professional to get the muscle and the fascia warmed up enough to be able to perform this technique. Once the muscle is warm and more relaxed, pressure is applied to the problematic fascia. The pressure is sustained and a bit more gentle than the other techniques we spoke about previously. The technique is done without oil and creams. It is ideal to release fascia tension. 
  4. Trigger Point Therapy (TPT)
    This is one of the most common soft tissue therapies out there. Most people know that when a muscle is stiff and sore, they apply constant pressure to the painful area and eventually the pain goes away. A professional will determine the exact point in the muscle that is causing the spasm. They will then apply firm pressure to that point using their thumb or massage tool. Pressure is held for 30-60 seconds at a time and then released. This technique is done until the trigger point is released.
    TPT is very effective but it is not that relaxing, as you will feel sharp shooting pains before the muscle relaxes into it. 

There are many more techniques out there but, the four that we have spoken about are the most common ones used in treatments today. 

Soft tissue manual therapy 

According to The International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists, manual therapy techniques can be defined as: “Skilled hand movements intended to produce any or all of the following effects: improve tissue extensibility; increase range of motion of the joint complex; mobilize or manipulate soft tissues and joints; induce relaxation; change muscle function; modulate pain; and reduce soft tissue swelling, inflammation or movement restriction.”

Soft tissue manual therapy is a treatment that is performed by a professional where they only use their hands, forearms, and elbows, as well as their knowledge, to treat soft tissue damage or inflammation. The treatment may include moving the joints, muscle stretching, passive movements, and more to help treat the muscles and tissues that are affected. 

Integrative soft tissue therapy 

Integrated soft tissue therapy is a highly successful treatment that is used to assess and manage soft tissue injuries. This therapy is used mainly to optimize athletic performance. IST takes a holistic approach to assess and treat injuries and works on allowing all the elements of your body (mechanics, soft tissue, and nerve function) to heal and ensuring that they are working together to achieve optimal function. 

You will find that chiropractors often use this technique on their patients because they have an understanding of the nerves as well as the mechanical function of the joints and bones in the body. 

Professionals will not only use massage to help heal the muscles, but will also use shockwave therapy, acupuncture, soft tissue techniques, and tape to ensure that you get the best results. 

Diversified soft tissue therapy 

Diversified soft tissue therapy is a new innovative therapy that mixes pilates and soft tissue therapy. The idea is that this technique does not stick to one modality. This therapy focuses on anatomy and biomechanics, as well as overall physiology to help the body heal as a unit. 

These practitioners use orthopedic massage, pilates, functional fitness, systematic strength, and health coaching to treat your body. This treatment is good for the following conditions:

  • Post-surgery
  • Muscle injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Lack of flexibility 

Soft tissue physical therapy

Soft tissue physical therapy is a mobilization form of manual physical therapy. A licensed practitioner will use hands-on techniques on your muscles, ligaments, and fascia to break adhesions or trigger points to help optimize your muscle function. 

When your muscle tears or suffers any form of trauma, your body tries to heal the muscle quickly by creating new tissue to knit the muscle back together. Sometimes these new tissues pull against one another and form trigger points in the muscle. These points are very painful and can be debilitating. Your therapist will use different techniques to break down these points and help the muscle heal correctly. 

Soft tissue swelling treatment

If you suffer from a muscle sprain or strain, there are a few things you can do at home to help reduce swelling. Firstly, you need to go seek medical help to ensure that nothing is broken and that there is no nerve damage. 

Once you get the all-clear, go home and use R.I.C.E. :





This will help reduce swelling as well as help with pain management. Research has shown that an estimated 1 ankle sprain occurs per 10,000 people each day. Researchers also note that they cannot prove how well R.I.C.E. works because each injury is different. However, you should be proactive and use this treatment to help with swelling before you start with your soft tissue therapies. When you go to a professional, they will use the R.IC.E technique to help get your muscles ready for the soft tissue treatment, depending on what is needed. For example, for ankle injuries, research shows that intermittent pneumatic compression, which involves inflation and deflation of a device over 30 minutes, proves to reduce pain and ankle function better than if you just use a compression bandage. 

Soft tissue fascia therapy

According to Healthline, Fascia is the fibrous connective tissue that protects and supports muscles and organs throughout the body. When there is inflammation across your fascia tissues, it causes extreme pain and stiffness. 

Soft tissue fascia therapy is a treatment that is conducted by a trained professional. The professional will focus on this specific type of connective tissue. The technique used for this tissue is normally ART, which is the Active Release Technique. This is when the professional combines muscle manipulation and movement to help treat the issue at hand. The therapist can also use MFR, which we discussed earlier. 

One of the most common fascia tissue condition is known as Plantar fasciitis. This is a condition that affects the feet.  

What conditions can be treated using soft tissue therapy?

There are numerous conditions that soft tissue therapy can treat, including but not limited to:

  • Whiplash
  • Lower back pain
  • Chronic neck ache
  • Tension headaches
  • Shoulder strains
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Sciatic nerve pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Bursitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Muscle inflammation 
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in a muscle
  • Strained or sprained muscles/joints 


A 2016 study looked into the effectiveness of soft tissue therapy for management of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the upper and lower extremities. Localized relaxation massage provided the participants with added benefits, as well as long term benefits for people who were suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome. The myofascial release helped people who suffered from lateral epicondylitis more so than sham ultrasound treatment. They also found that myofascial release helped people with plantar fasciitis by releasing the main muscles/fascia in the feet, namely the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantar fascia. 

Soft tissue therapy is not a pleasant treatment to have. It can be painful at times and other treatments that are used with it will give you more benefits. 


  • Discomfort is normal after a soft tissue treatment
  • If your pain does not go away after 4 weeks, you need to seek a medical doctor
  • Drink water after a treatment to help flush out the toxins released during your session
  • Apply heat to the treated area to help soothe the muscles
  • Always go to someone qualified and trained in soft tissue therapy. Do not try to release your muscle spasms yourself without a professional showing you how to do it safely first.

To find out more about different natural and alternative treatments that you can use to help heal your muscles and ensure that your body is working at its best, sign up for our email service. 

Fascia: The Mystery

You might be thinking, what is this word, and why haven’t I ever heard of it before? 

Fasciae (the plural of fascia) are quite a mystery, not only to the general public, but also to researchers and medical specialists. However, they play an extremely important role in proper body functioning. A fascia is like a plastic wrap under our skin that helps to hold muscles, organs, and blood vessels in place. Fasciae restrain these body parts from moving from their position while we are moving, bending, running, jumping, and exercising freely out in the world.

You may have questioned why your organs stay in place without falling to the bottom of your abdomen. This is because fasciae are attentively doing their work, holding your organs together in their place.

Fasciae are spread throughout our body from head to toe, holding us together. They act like the white fiber of an orange, working to encapsulate every cell of our body in its place. While fasciae may seem to be a hidden mystery in the medical world, they are everywhere in our body! 

Composition of Fasciae:

Fasciae are made up of collagen and ground substance. Collagen gives structural mechanical properties to fasciae, as it encapsulates the bundles of wavy fibers which tend to straighten under tension. Ground substance is a white sticky substance whose consistency matches that of an egg white. It fills the gaps between the collagen and holds minerals, nutrients, and other important elements of the fascia.  

3 Types of Fascia:

Fascia is a fibrous connective tissue which spreads throughout your body. There are three main types of fascia. 

  • Superficial fascia: mostly found under the skin. It is the outermost layer of fascia. 
  • Deep fascia: found around muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, holding them in position. 
  • Visceral fascia: keeps organs in place in our body so that they don’t move or collide with each other, causing severe injury. 

3 Ways to Keep Fasciae Flexible and Healthy:

  • Move more: Exercise helps keep your fasciae healthy, as moving will make them more flexible.
  • Stretch regularly: Stretching helps reduce pain and improves the flexibility of the fasciae, hence reducing the pain.  
  • Focus on posture: Sitting all day with a slouched posture and walking with a poor posture also affects fasciae. which may get shorter and tighter, causing pain. Maintaining posture while standing and sitting is a good way to keep fasciae flexible and loose.

Methods to Relieve Painful Fasciae:

  • Stretch 10 minutes daily: Stretching helps elongate the muscles, thus relieving tension between the muscle and fascia. You need your fasciae strong, healthy and flexible in order to maintain a wide range of motion. 

For best results, maintain a stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and avoid getting into postures that are too deep or painful. 

  • Hydration: Proper hydration helps every cell in our body to function properly, including the cells of fasciae. Hydration will help a fascia to function properly.
  • Acupuncture: With its immeasurable benefits, acupuncture can be used at pressure points to help relieve the stress and tightness of fasciae and muscle, thereby helping them to relax. 
  • Foam rolling: If you’re unsure exactly which fascia is causing problems, foam rolling does most of the work in finding which fascia is painful and tight. A foam roller will target the pressure points and the tight fasciae, and with time, they will reach their optimal health.  
  • Massage therapy: During a massage, you feel relaxed and lightweight due to the fact that the massagers hold and release tight points. This helps tight muscles and fasciae to relax, thus ridding your body of pain and stress. 
  • Heat therapy: Relaxation of the muscles and fascia induced by heat dates back to the 14th century. Providing heat at a therapeutic range (40 degrees) has multiple benefits on muscles, as heat helps reduce soreness and pain, increases range of motion, and increases flexibility. 
  • Yoga therapy: Yoga is much like a physical therapy with a wide range of benefits. Yoga therapy will increase flexibility, strength, and proper balance.   

Plantar Fascia: 

The plantar fascia is one of the most commonly known fasciae, as numerous individuals suffer from heel pain due to plantar fasciitis. There is a band of connective tissues that run across the bottom of the feet, connecting the heel bone to your toes. This band absorbs all the impact and stress caused by exercise and other activities.

When impacted, the band starts swelling near the heel, causing intense, stabbing pain across the heel. This pain may subside after taking a few steps.

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by excessive weight, certain types of exercises that place a lot of stress on your heel tissues (like ballet, aerobic dances, etc.), age, and occupations that keeps you on your feet. 

Healing of the Plantar Fascia: 

Plantar fasciitis can be cured with many home based exercises. Ful recovery may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even months. You should avoid doing exercises that create stress on the heel and substitute them with other forms of exercise. Stopping exercise entirely will only stiffen the muscle and worsen the condition. 

The following approaches may help you relieve pain due to plantar fasciitis:

  • Protect the heel:  You can use orthotic devices in your shoes to absorb impact. Whichever shoe you are wearing, make sure to use an insole or orthotic device to protect your heel. 
  • Support your feet: Support your feet by wearing high soled and cushioned shoes. These shoes tend to support your feet and provoke less damage.
  • Stretch your feet: Stretching has a large effect on the plantar fascia, and will help to relieve the pain and reduce inflammation.  
  • Reduce pain and inflammation: There are multiple ways to reduce the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis. You can put ice on the inflamed area to reduce the inflammation. Taking non-steroidal medications will help reduce the pain, as well as the inflammation.