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Soft tissue therapy

For those who do not know, fascia is the soft tissuecomponent included in the connective tissue in the human body. It is in chargeof providing the much needed protection and support in various different typesof structures in the body. There are various types of medical conditions suchas a diminished blood flow, muscle tension, painful sensations, inactivity,different sorts of infectious agents, trauma, overuse and psychogenic diseaseswhich may lead to the restriction of the soft tissue. There is a form of softtissue therapy called myofascial release approach and it is very useful in thetreatment of Somatic dysfunction, restriction of motion and the accompanyingpainful sensations. It was first introduced by Andrew Taylor Still who was afounder of the famous osteopathic medicine. This type of approach utilizescontinual palpatory feedback in order to release the myofascial tissues in thebody. In order to do so, one needs to stimulate the stretch reflex of themuscles and their overlying fascia, increase the circulation and the lymphaticdrainage and relax the contracted muscles. The fascia and the muscles need tobe targeted during the myofascial release, but there are other tissues whichmay get affected by the therapy as well, such as the connective tissue. As thefascia and the muscles get irritated they get exposed to inflammatoryconditions which may sometimes become chronic and lead to the development offibrosis. For those who do not known, fibrosis is the medical term for thethickening of the connective tissue which leads to even more irritation,painful sensations, muscle tension and inflammations. It is actually a positivefeedback loop which may lead to the development of ischemia and Somaticdysfunction if left untreated. Myofascial techniques are aimed to break thedreadful cycle.

Myofascial release massage

There are basically two different types of myofascialtechniques and those are passive and active. Passive myofascial techniques requirethe patient to remain completely relaxed while the active techniques requirethe patient to provide some resistance when necessary. There are differenttypes of direct and indirect techniques which need to be used in both passiveand active cases. Direct myofascial release is also sometimes referred to asdeep tissue work. It requires the engaging of a certain myofascial tissuerestrictive barrier. The tissue needs to be provided with constant force untilit finally gets released. Different tools such as elbows and knuckles can beused so that the restricted fascia gets stretched properly. The fascia alsoneeds to be elongated properly and the adhesive tissues need to be mobilized.There is also a technique called structural integration which combines movementeducation with soft tissue manipulation and it is mainly based on differentmovement methods, osteopathic manipulation and yoga and its main goal is tobalance the body by stretching the skin in certain types of oscillatorypatterns. Direct myofascial release technique is rather easy to perform. One needsto land on the body surface with the knuckles or the forearm and simply sinkinto the soft tissue. Once the first restricted layer is contacted, one needsto put on a line of tension. The fascia then can be engaged by taking up theslack in the tissue. After being engaged, the fascia needs to be moved acrossthe surface, but the touch with the underlying layers should not be lost.Indirect myofascial release is completely different as it only involves gentlestretches and only slight amounts of pressure so that the fascia can unwind allon its own. All the tissues which are characterized as dysfunctional are gentlyguided along a path characterized by only slight resistance, up to the pointwhere they reach free movement again. These gentle actions are highlybeneficial in increasing the blood flow in the affected areas and also inproviding heat. The pain gets eliminated and the optimum performance of thebody gets retained. This indirect type of myofascial release originates fromdifferent types of osteopathy schools and certain principles of physiotherapy. Italso relies on certain important principles of the myofascial release. Those principlesstate that the fascia cannot be separated from the muscles and that it coversall the organs in the human body. When the muscle gets stretched, it isactually myofascial stretching. These types of stretching may affect some otherdistant parts of the body as well. In the indirect myofascial release techniquethe fascia first needs to be lightly contacted by using completely relaxed hands.It then needs to be stretched slowly up to the point where a barrier or arestriction can be felt. This barrier needs to be stretched by a light pressurefor no longer than 5 minutes. As the barrier slowly gets released, thetherapist commonly feels the softening of the tissue, accompanied by the motionand a therapeutic pulse. There are also self myofascial release techniquesavailable to individuals.

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