Sports Massage Techniques

Soft Tissue Release

Soft Tissue Release is a technique whereby the therapist actively stretches muscle fibres, tendons and fascia. It involves repeatedly  stretching small areas of soft tissue by applying precise pressure to the muscle and then moving it to stretch it.
The primary aim of STR is to remove physical (adhesive) restrictions in the muscle to increase its range of movement and mobility.

Either the client actively contracts the muscle, or the massage therapist passively contracts the muscle for them, to a make it ‘shortened’. For example if the hamstrings are being treated then with the client positioned face down they are asked to bend their leg at the knee (active) or the massage therapist can bend their leg for them to shorten the hamstrings (passive).
Pressure is then applied to the muscle/soft tissue, this is called a lock and can be done using whole hand, knuckles or forearm (broad lock) or by using fingers or thumb (narrow lock). The type of lock used will be dependent on the size of muscle and the size and depth of the adhesion.
While maintaining pressure on the restricted tissues the nearest joint is moved by the massage therapist to create a stretch between the lock and the joint (passive STR) or the client is asked to move the joint themselves (active STR).
In the hamstring example, this will mean straightening the leg from a bent knee position. Usually this is done by the massage therapist first (passively) then progressing to more active methods where the client actively moves the joint allowing the therapist to apply more pressure. The technique begins with the lock applied closest to the moving joint and then it moved gradually away from the joint but not too far away that the stretch created by the lock is no longer effective. Soft oft tissue release can be repeated for up to two minutes but may be less depending on client’s response and the response of the affected tissues.


Soft Tissue Release and sports massage of the Hamstring in Falmouth Cornwall