Soft Tissue Manipulation

Soft tissue manipulation is a form of manual therapy where your provider uses hand-on techniques on the soft tissues of your body with the goal of breaking adhesions.

Adhesions are your body’s attempt to heal a soft tissue injury with a lengthy inflammation process, resulting in long strands of collagenous scar tissue. These new tissues pull against one another, forming trigger points of pain.

Soft Tissue Manipulation Techniques

Your therapist is specially trained to use his or her hands to push, pull and knead your muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves in precise ways to help bring you pain relief and return you to functionality.

Specific techniques for soft tissue manipulation include:

  • Probing and shearing – forcing fingers into your sub-tissue to break the adhesions
  • Rolling – lifting your tissues between the fingertips and thumb, creating a dome of tissue; a “pop” may be heard as adhesions break

Goals of Soft Tissue Manipulation

  • Break down or reduce scar tissue
  • Improve range of motion
  • Improve blood and oxygen supply
  • Reduce buildup of lactic acid
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Decrease pain
  • Restore functionality


To Help Ensure Success

Soft tissue manipulation can help relieve pain and improve function. To help achieve optimal results with soft tissue manipulation, we encourage you to:

  • Do your home exercises faithfully
  • Maintain a normal body weight
  • Get regular aerobic exercise
  • Engage in weight training, as directed by your physician

Contraindications for Soft Tissue Manipulation

You should not have soft tissue manipulation when you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Localized infection
  • Inflammatory skin condition
  • Fracture
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Advanced diabetes

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