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Soft Tissue Work to Better Your Body

When was the last time you gave your soft tissues some lovin’?

I mean really.

When was the last time you gave them some attention?

Day in and day out you put them through hell with your poor biomechanical habits, your terrible posture and your intense training activities.

You torture them!

So when was the last time you did some nice, effective soft tissue work to show them how much you really care?

Right about now I’m picturing this confused yet (hopefully) intrigued look.

Let me explain…

Like I mentioned before, soft tissue work is the best form of self-myofascial release. It’s purpose is to break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.

Note: If this is all new to you, I suggest you get in terms with the myofascial release philosophy – it will change your life.

Your soft tissues are simply the soft materials that make up your body’s musculoskeletal system: your muscles, the fascia that surround them, and the tendons and ligaments that hold them together.

There are two situations to consider.

The first is your training. When you train, you create micro-trauma to your soft tissues. This is normal and is followed by a natural process where the tissues heal, grow and get stronger. But during this healing process, tissue adhesion and scarring can occur which can result in knots and damaged areas within your soft tissue. This essentially impedes the performance of the soft tissue.

The second situation is more frequent. Poor biomechanical alignment and poor posture can cause your fascia to lose its flexibility and become tight. This introduces tension throughout your body. When your fascia is tight and damaged, it tends to stick to the underside of tissue such as skin, blood vessels and nerves which can lead to all sorts of nasty problems.

The purpose of soft tissue work is to eliminate these adhesions and get rid of the knots. With some simple and cheap soft tissue tools, you can improve the quality of your soft tissues by improving their ability to lengthen and relax. Doing this will bring them back to their balanced, healthy state.

When done regularly, soft tissue work will improve the quality of your tissues and higher quality tissues will improve your blood circulation, your nerve transmission, your biomechanical alignment, your sleep and your general overall feel.

But how do I know if I have poor tissue quality?

Good question.

Answer: 95% of the time, you do.

This is especially true if you spend a good chunk of your time sitting or standing, if you have poor flexibility and posture, if you’ve experienced trauma (falls or accidents) or even if you’re active but do little soft tissue work.

You can do a simple test to find out.

Choose a muscle group. Let’s say your quadricep (top part of your thigh) as an example. Using a soft tissue tool or even just your thumb, roll up or press down on the muscle and search for tender spots. A tender spot is a pain spot. It’s very sensitive to pressure. It hurts when you press on it. If you’re digging around and you feel pain, you’ve just found a knot (damaged fascia).

It’s not uncommon to find these pain areas all over your body.

If that’s the case, you need to get to work.

How often should I do soft tissue work?

Another great question.

Answer: As often as you can, but only for brief sessions.

5-10 minutes of daily soft tissue work with varying tools is more than enough to improve the health and quality of your tissues.

How do I do it?

Ok, you’re on a roll here…

Using the tool of your choice, firmly apply pressure (usually in a rolling or circular manner) for anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds (depending on the amount of pain). It will hurt for the first little bit but soon the tender spot will start feeling better and you will feel what is called the ‘release’ of pain or tension.

Move from one muscle group to the next and perform the same routine. Soon you’ll know where your most tender spots are and you can work on those regularly.

The key to soft tissue work is consistency. Your soft tissues experience constant stress so they need constant attention. 5-10 minutes every day is not a lot to ask for if you can make a drastic improvement to the health of your tissues, your posture, your flexibility, and the opportunity to live a pain-free life.

So what do you say?

I think it’s time that your soft tissues start getting some love. Get yourself some tools and start doing some regular soft tissue work. Your body will love you for it. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

Robert - February 16, 2012

Count me in as someone who needs to give their soft tissue some love. Because of how much time I spend writing at a computer everyday, my back is starting to get sore in a few spots. What I really need to do is convert to a standing desk, but that’s a long-term solution.

Because of how difficult the back is to self-reach, what can I do to give the soft tissue on my back some lovin’?

    Test - February 17, 2012

    I’ll be providing more posts in the very near future outlining how to target specific areas with specific tools so stay tuned!

    The back is usually the one that needs the most work (not always) so it needs the most attention. I’ll be showing you how I use foam rollers and lacrosse balls to target those pain areas.

Alykhan - The Magic Trio - February 17, 2012

Srdjan,

Nice post! I had no idea about the importance of performing regular soft tissue work. Thanks for sharing!

Alykhan

    Test - February 19, 2012

    Glad you liked it man! I got a lot more great info coming on this topic so stay tuned!

Destin - June 3, 2012

I picked up a foam roller yesterday and I am lovin it. I have sore spots all over my body. I use a golf ball on my feet but am going to pick up a lacrosse ball soon.

– Destin

    Test - June 11, 2012

    Hey Destin! That’s awesome! Which foam roller did you grab? And definitely get a lacrosse ball – it’s my favorite tool by far. I even brought it with me on my recent vacation 🙂

      Destin - June 13, 2012

      I bought a Muscletrac about a month ago and quickly ditched it for a foam roller. This is the roller I got.

      http://www.amazon.com/Altus-24-Inch-Foam-Roller/dp/B0055QEKHI

      Is there a difference in rollers?

        Test - June 13, 2012

        Yea there are different styles of foam rollers. They mostly differ in the firmness (or density) and the material. I have a few of them. I’ll put up a post to show you the differences soon.

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