Sports Massage Techniques Reviewed

Myofascial Release

Fascia can be specifically treated by using myofascial release techniques if dysfunction is still present after soft tissue techniques have been used. An excellent presentation of Myofascial release can  be found at the Myofascial release UK website.

Longitudinal Soft tissue release

Soft tissue techniques work by affecting a variety of components within the soft tissue structure. These components include the musculature, fascia, vasculature and local nervous system

By applying a direct force to tight muscles, the muscles can be stretched or kneaded until relaxation occurs.
Similarly, as muscles are stretched, the fascia surrounding each muscle is also stretched until fascial relaxation occurs.
In relation to vasculature, soft tissue techniques have been shown to increase the amount of circulation to the muscles and fascia. As more blood reaches the tight muscles, the amount of oxygen and nutritional components reaching the muscles increase, as well as increasing the rate of removal of local metabolites and waste products. All of which lead to more rapid healing rates.
The somatosomatic and viscerosomatic neural reflexes can also be decreased through soft tissue techniques.

Golgi Tendon Organs

Muscle spindles lie within the centre of the muscle belly, they measure resting length and adjust accordingly. Golgi tendon organs are located at muscle tendons. These are complex structures of Golgi sensory neurons (Ib type) wrapped in collagen. When the whole muscle contracts, this is stretched and the sensory neuron is compressed by the collagen, and fires action potentials. These action potentials, unlike those of muscle spindles (a reflex pathway), reaches consciousness and is sensed as ‘physical stretch’.

Soft Tissue Release or STR

This treatment protocol is excellent for specificity in treating overused and shortened muscles. it can be Active or Passive.

An example would be as follows. To stretch the Vastus Medialis or inner quad muscle is difficult, however if a patient sits on the couch and the therapist extends the knee to enable relaxation of the quadriceps. The therapist then directs pressure away from the patella insertion som efew inches whilst flexing the lower leg.

This specifically stretches the portion of the Vastus Medialis between the contact point of the muscle and it’s insertion on the patella. Very specific to this portion of the muscle. Acitvely is much stronger when the patient actually controls the flexion of the lower leg.


PNF stretching, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching.

Is a set of stretching techniques commonly used in clinical environments to enhance both active and passive range of motion with the ultimate goal being to optimize motor performance and rehabilitation. The literature regarding PNF has made the technique the optimal stretching method when the aim is to increase range of motion, especially in short-term changes. Generally an active PNF stretch involves a shortening contraction of the opposing muscle to place the target muscle on stretch. This is followed by an isometric contraction of the target muscle. PNF can be used to supplement daily stretching and is employed to make quick gains in range of motion to help athletes improve performance.[1] Aside from being safe and time efficient, the dramatic gains in range of motion seen in a short period of time may also promote compliance with the exercise and rehabilitation program

Cross-fiber Friction Massage

Great For Anyone Recovery From An Injury Or Suffering With Tendonitis!
Deep transverse friction or cross-friction massage is a technique popularized by the late British orthopedic physician, James Cyriax. Dr. Cyriax was one of the foremost specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injury and pain syndromes.
Cyriax believed that when you injure your muscle tissues, ligaments or tendons the healing process of remodeling fails to occur properly, either from repeated trauma, immobilization or poor fluid circulation. Cross-fiber friction attempts to reduce abnormal fibrous adhesions from forming at the injury site and improve scar tissue mobility by encouraging normal alignment of soft tissue fibres (Brosseau et al 2002, Wieting 2004)

Deep Transverse Friction Massage

The intended goal of deep cross-fiber friction massage is to maintain mobility, range of motion and reduce scarring within the soft tissue structures of ligament, tendon, and muscle after an injury. This technique also reduces the crystalline roughness that forms between tendons and their sheaths that can result in painful tendonitis. It can also prevent or soften myofascial adhesions and trigger points that restrict or impair movement.
After any injury the repaired tissues that is placed in response to injured area is weaker and not as strong as the undamaged tissues surrounding the area. In normal healthy tissues the cross link bridges of collagen fiber is strong and organized in a pattern that supports your body. The repaired tissues is also stiffer and less elastic than the undamaged tissues that it replaced.
Because the repaired tissue are more sensitive to pain and muscle spasms, during times of high stress, these repaired tissues will fatigue more rapidly, causing you to have more flare-ups. And a higher rate of re-injury! Cross-fiber friction massage its theorized to help those injuries in the 2nd (regeneration) and 3rd (remodeling) stages.
Manual manipulations will reduce muscle adhesions, remodel fibrotic tissues, promote fluid circulation, reduce muscle hypertonicity, muscle spasm, and close the “pain gate” (Kirkaldy-Willis, 1983, 1985, 1988).
In combination with stretching and movement pattern exercises, this allows your body a better chance at remodeling the damaged tissues.

Trigger Point Technique

Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy

A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may reduce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache.

Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.

The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.

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