Massage for Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft-tissue injuries (such as muscle pulls and strains, tendonitis, ligament sprains, and whiplash) heal faster with specifically targeted massage. Massage benefits you by reducing spasm, pain, swelling, and formation of excess scar tissue. Massage also breaks up excess scar tissue and adhesions (stuck together tissue) that weaken muscles and contribute to further injury.
“Skillful, knowledgeable massage can make the difference between a one-time muscle strain that takes a few weeks to resolve and a painful, limiting, chronically recurring condition… By applying skills to the proper formation of scar tissue, the reduction of edema, the limiting of adhesions, and the improvement of circulation and mobility, massage can turn an irritating muscle tear into a trivial event.” A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology by Ruth Werner
When you have a soft-tissue injury, the tissue fibers are torn. Scar tissue begins to form immediately at the injured site, but the scar tissue does not necessarily run parallel to the fibers of the injured tissue. This process can lead to excess scar tissue that is weak and prone to further injury. Also, because scar tissue is not elastic, it can restrict movement of surrounding fibers, again setting you up for further injury.
Massage benefits you by creating tension and stretch that breaks up excess scar tissue and determine the direction of new tissue fibers. This makes the injured site stronger and less prone to new injury. Massage also increases circulation to the injured area, bringing needed nutrients and removing waste products produced in the healing process.
Massage for injury requires a regular schedule, no less than once a week. In some cases, you will see much faster results with a twice-a-week schedule. For how long? It depends on the nature and extent of the injury, how old it is, and your ability to heal. It also depends on your willingness, when appropriate, to ice the injury, do some exercises or stretches, or identify and eliminate the cause of ongoing injury.