Updated: Feb 26, 2020
The most common question I get asked is “What is Soft Tissue Therapy?”
The main reason for confusion amongst my patients appears when trying to discern the difference between Soft Tissue Therapy (STT) and other massage therapies. The simplest response is that STT uses a large variety of treatments, one of which is massage, hence they are non-comparative. Instead, it is useful to see that massage is simply part of the larger spectrum of STT.
OK. But, is Soft Tissue Therapy Soft?
No. Soft Tissue does not mean soft as in gentle – but refers to body structures that are not hard, like bone. Soft tissues include all levels of muscle (from superficial to deep), tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.
So, what can STT help me with?
The treatment and/or alleviation of musculoskeletal pain, sporting and non-sporting injuries, chronic and acute tension, as well as improving body flexibility, strength, and wellness. All this has the additional benefit of improving your mental well-being too.
Can you give me some examples of issues you have helped with?
Upper back pain and tension
Postural issues associated with desk-based occupations
Neck pain and stiffness
Lower back pain
So, what techniques are used in Soft Tissue Therapy?
Soft Tissue Release (STR)
Method: I apply pressure on your affected muscle to create a temporary attachment point, and then move your muscle into a pain-free stretch.
Works because: STR targets specific areas of tension within a muscle, making it useful for targeting muscles that are difficult to stretch actively (yourself) and for isolating a muscle within a group of muscles that would normally stretch together. 
Myofascial Release (MFR)
Wait…what is Fascia!?
Fascia is a connective tissue that wraps around and in between every structure in our body, including our muscles – it is very thin, elastic, but tough.
Method: I will apply sustained and gentle pressure into the problem fascia. This can take a long time, up to 15 minutes in one area alone. This technique is used without oils/creams.
Reduces: fascia tension.
Trigger Point Therapy (TPT)
A trigger point maybe that area you have been referring to as a ‘knot’. TPT is unfortunately not that relaxing, but it is very effective. A trigger point is an area that when pressed on causes pain somewhere else – for instance, a TP on your shoulder may transfer pain up your neck and into your head, like a tension headache.
Good for: Shoulder & neck pain.
Method: I apply specific and direct pressure on to your trigger point with my thumb or a tool.
There are many more techniques that can be utilised, but the one that most of my patients love, of course, is general/relaxing/deep MASSAGE!
The main reason I believe that massage works in reducing your pain, or speeding up your recovery, is because it feels GOOD!
I have realised and learned that simply having a chance to lie back, have an hour to yourself, and let someone else help you, can do wonders for you!
Myofascial Dry Needling
Dry Needling is often applied to muscles with trigger points, alleviating the trigger point itself and the taught band associated with it. There are a number of Dry Needling techniques that can be used to alter the state of the tissue; hence the technique will vary according to your presentation. Also known as myofascial trigger point dry needling, is an alternative medicine technique similar to acupuncture. It involves the use of either solid filiform needles or hollow-core hypodermic needles for therapy of muscle pain, including pain related to myofascial pain syndrome. Dry needling is mainly used to treat myofascial trigger points, but it is also used to target connective tissue, neural ailments, and muscular ailments. It is a technique used to treat dysfunction of skeletal muscle and connective tissue, minimize peripheral nociception (pain), and improve or regulate structural or functional damage.
Good for: Releasing trigger points faster
Method: Acupuncture needle placed on top of a trigger point
Reduces: Pain by causing a different kind of pain