How Deep Tissue Work Can Reduce Your Pain and Improve Your Fitness

By Mackie Forziati, Home Bodies Personal Trainer and Bodywork Therapist

The majority of my work addresses connective tissue that has been damaged due to repetitive use or secondary to an injury with resultant scar tissue.

When the blood vessels or nerves running through tissue become damaged due to injury or overuse, the muscle becomes entrapped. Like a snag in a wool sweater, the tissue gathers and pulls in a different location and direction, whether horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. The same phenomenon happens to the soft tissue. This damage results in the restriction of blood flow and the compression of nerves in the tissue.

Healthy muscle fibers move in and out synergistically, but damaged muscle fibers will lock into place in an effort to prevent further injury. Inflamed tissue painfully restricts range of motion, producing involuntary guarding with subsequent spasms to the injured area. After a period of time, you will lose muscle memory in the area and the chance of re-injuring is increased. Nerve impingement almost always occurs, resulting in further pain.

The technique I use gently manipulates the affected area through a range of motion so that the connective tissue can be actively stretched. At the apex (peak) of the movement, the stretch is held for no more than a two second count. This allows the muscle to receive the message that it is being stretched, though not to a degree sufficient enough to complicate the existing injury. This technique helps to break up scar tissue, which is a major hindrance to range of motion. When scar tissue is broken up, it increases both strength and flexibility.

This motion I use during therapy aides the muscle in regaining its memory, thus allowing the fibers to move the way they did prior to the injury. The soft tissue begins to unwind, like a telephone cord, in-line and anatomically correct. I finish a session with assisted stretching and strengthening with resistance, to reinforce what took place in the session.

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