Definition Of Soft Tissue Release
Definition Of Soft Tissue ReleaseWhat Is It?
Soft Tissue Release – is an advanced massage technique widely used in assessing and stretching soft tissues; muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments. STR involves the therapist using manual pressure on a muscle to create a temporary false attachment point and then taking the muscle into a pain-free stretch to untangle the muscle fibers. STR is used to increase range of movement, relieve pain, prevent, repair and manage injuries. STR is an excellent way of treating tendinitis in a muscle as it takes pressure off its point of origin, which is where the inflammation occurs in this condition. It has also been proven to be useful in the treatment of certain conditions such as medial and lateral epicondylitis (Golfers and Tennis Elbow) and plantar fascistic (Policemen’s Foot/Heel) as it stimulates tissue repair in these conditions. Soft tissue release is a recognized sports massage technique.


    Soft Tissue Release originated in the mid 1980’s and is the foundation of recent “release techniques “and has developed into one of the most effective therapies for all types of acute and chronic soft tissue pain.

This is a technique for stretching soft tissues, primarily muscles, fascia and tendons.

Many of my clients complain of having “tight” muscles. Sometimes they are prescribed stretches and experience temporary relief from the feelings of tightness. One of the reasons basic stretching gives only temporary relief is because muscles are not uniformly tight: there may be localized areas of tension or adhesions restricting a few fibers only. When we perform active stretches, it may not necessarily be the “tight” part of the muscle that lengthens, but the part that is already more pliable. Soft Tissue Release helps localize a stretch to those fibers in the muscle that most need lengthening.

1) Firstly, we identify the muscle to be stretched and the direction of fibers.

2) Secondly, we ensure that the muscle is in a neutral position. Neutral means that the muscle is neither contracted nor stretched. Often this requires the therapist to passively shorten the muscle to eliminate either stretch or contraction. So, for example, if you were treating hamstrings in prone, you would flex the client’s knee to around 90 degrees, thus passively shortening the hamstrings. This is your start position.

3) We explain the procedure to the client.

4) In the neutral position, “lock in” to the muscle to fix the fibers, starting proximally, on or near the origin of the muscle. I this way you are creating a false insertion point for the muscle, gently compressing the soft tissue.

5) Whilst maintaining your lock, gentle and slowly stretch the muscle. So, in our hamstrings example, you might be fixing the muscle near the ischium, and gently extending the knee by returning the client’s leg to the couch. All the while you are lowering the leg you maintain your lock.

6) Once the muscle has been stretched, release your “fix” and return the muscle to neutral.

7) We choose another point to fix the muscle, working more distally. We repeat until you reach the distal tendon(s).

It is important for us to fix the muscle using methods which safeguard your own joints. The example here shows a therapist using fists, forearm and elbow as methods of locking.

Usual massage contraindications apply. In addition, caution should be used when using STR to treat clients who are known to bruise easily. The sensation should be comfortable for the client and should never be painful. Stop if the client experiences pain.