Muscle strains due to sports injuries or overuse at work can be painful for days. Chiropractic medicine has developed several techniques to return muscle function and reduce pain by speeding up the natural healing process. Ask your chiropractor about soft-tissue treatments and get back to work or playing your favorite sport sooner.
Candidates for Soft-Tissue Techniques
Muscles and tissues that respond to external manipulation are the most likely ones to be treated by soft-tissue techniques. Strains, sprains, tendonitis and muscle overuse are the common muscle injuries that respond to this treatment. This makes many of the typical sports and work injuries good candidates for these low-risk techniques.
Types of Damage Treated by Soft-Tissue Techniques
Whether a person overworks a calf muscle during exercise or while working on a construction site, the damage done to the muscle is the same. Muscle injury often includes one or more of the following issues:
- reduced circulation to the damaged muscle area
- less oxygen getting to the muscle cells
- pulled muscle fibers weaken the muscle
- small tears in the muscle fibers create scar tissue
- inflammation of the muscle and surrounding tissues
- nerves and blood vessels being constricted
During the soft-tissue treatments, the structures in the muscle are moved around to release pressure on the nerves and blood vessels. Scar tissue is broken up to make the muscle fibers more flexible. Circulation is improved by massage to increase oxygen flow to the muscle. The following techniques are slightly different in delivery but have the same effects on the injured muscle.
Active Release Technique
This technique focuses on the scar tissue created by the tiny tears in the muscle fibers. Your chiropractor uses their hands to find the area directly over the injury. They feel for the warmest point over the muscle and the place with the most tension. They then use a massage technique that follows the normal movement of the muscle to slowly stretch it out, reducing the tension and increasing circulation. When they feel scar tissue, they add pressure to break it up and free up those muscle fibers.
This technique involves putting steady force on a tight muscle until it relaxes naturally. The practitioner finds the tense muscle and, using their knuckles, elbows or a special tool, applies constant pressure on that muscle for several minutes. As the muscle's resources are depleted under the pressure, the fibers relax. There is less risk of injuring the muscle by letting it relax on its own than forcing it to release the tension.
When these soft-tissue techniques are used, the pain and swelling are reduced sooner so you can return to work or exercise. You will need less pain medication and your muscles will regain their full functionality in a shorter time. For more information about soft-tissue treatments and other options, contact a clinic such as Rockwood Chiropractic.