Training-Room Tips (Video): Soft Tissue Release -
A New Sport Therapy Technique

Dick Moss

Training-Room Tips (Video): Soft Tissue Release - A New Sport Therapy Technique
Soft tissue release is a stretching and healing technique in which a body part is moved until its muscles reach the point of stretch. At this point, pressure is applied to the muscle, causing the muscle to elongate. The pressure can be in the form of a hand squeeze or massage-style glide.

I became aware of this technique through one of my athletes, who found it to be the most effective method for dealing with her shin pain. She experienced almost immediate relieve after receiving treatments.

It's not our goal to make you an expert in soft tissue release - Shawn Charron, who demonstrates it in the videos below, is skilled in the technique because he took a course and works with it almost every day. However, you should know that this technique exists and can be requested from your local athletic therapists.

How to Perform Soft Tissue Release on the Lower Leg

We'll use the lower leg to explain soft tissue release. The videos also demonstrate lower leg stretching, although the final video shows how the technique can be applied to other areas of the body.

When performing the technique on the lower leg, the athlete lies on her stomach and bends the leg to a 90-degree angle. The therapist manipulates the foot in order to bring the calf muscles to the point of stretch.

When the point of stretch is reached, the therapist applies a "lock" to the calf muscle, squeezing the muscles with his fingers or thumb. This pressure is held briefly - at about the intensity of a handshake - until the foot is released for another repetition. It's like a pumping action, with the lock being applied at the end of each pump.

About ten repetitions are performed on each different angle of ankle movement, with the lock being applied on random spots along the entire length of the calf muscle.

Other Points

  • The technique is usually preceded by a warmup session - either through exercise or by heating with a Hydrocollator pack, which applies moist heat.
  • The affected muscles are stretched after the therapy session.
  • The technique should not be performed within 48 hours of a competition. It can take that long for the body to recover and incorporate the changes produced by the therapy session.
  • A workout can be performed on the same day.
  • If one leg is more affected than the other, the therapist will usually start on the most affected leg, then move to the other leg, then finish by working once again on the most affected leg.
  • Instead of a hand lock, pressure to the stretched muscle can be applied by gliding the hand down the muscle.
  • In addition to actively stretching the muscles, there is significant lymphatic drainage that occurs with this technique. This helps fatigued and injured muscles to recovery more quickly.
  • Other benefits include increased venous drainage, fluid absorption and collagen flexibility; the breaking up of scar tissue and the mobilization of adhesions.
  • The technique doesn't take a lot of time. A session involving both legs can be completed in 10-15 minutes.

This video demonstrates soft tissue release techniques for the
lower leg, including the calf muscles,shins and achilles tendons.
It features Shawn Charron, working on Meghan Juuti (5:16)

The video below demonstrates how soft tissue release
can be applied to other areas of the body (1:55)

Conclusion - See the Video Below (1:56)

Reference: From a therapy session performed by Shawn Charron, a Certified Athletic Therapist with Laurentian University's Voyageur Athletic Therapy Clinic, in Sudbury, Ontario.

Meghan Juuti is an English student at Laurentian University and a varsity runner on the Voyageur track and cross-country team. She also is a contributing writer for PE Update.

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