The goal of soft tissue mobilization (STM) is to break up inelastic or fibrous muscle tissue (called 'myofascial adhesions') such as scar tissue from a back injury, move tissue fluids, and relax muscle tension. This procedure is commonly applied to the musculature surrounding the spine, and consists of rhythmic stretching and deep pressure. The therapist will locate the area of greatest tissue restriction through layer-by-layer assessment. Once identified, these restrictions can be mobilized with a wide variety of techniques. These techniques often involve placing of a traction force on the tight area with an attempt to restore normal texture to tissue and reduce associated pain. Physiotherapists locate the source of pain or movement restriction through skilled, layer-by layer assessment, looking for soft tissue restrictions that are decreasing motion and causing pain. Once identified, restrictions are matched with a wide variety of hands-on techniques that ‘free' these restrictions. Soft tissue mobilization treatment is used for injuries like tennis elbow, golf elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis of your biceps or rotator cuff and contracture. Patients often get diagnosed with a pulled muscle in their back and are instructed to treat it with rest, ice and massage. While these techniques feel good, the pain often returns because the muscle spasm is in response to a restricted joint. Joint mobilization involves loosening up of the restricted joint and increasing its range of motion by providing slow velocity (i.e. speed) and increasing amplitude (i.e. distance of movement) movement directly into the barrier of a joint, moving the actual bone surfaces on each other in ways patients cannot move the joint themselves.
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