Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM) is defined as the hands-on mobilization of soft tissues, i.e., muscle and associated connective tissues that supports it, tendons (muscle to bone connections) and ligaments (bone-to-bone connections). STM is performed on a patient for the purposes of producing beneficial effects on the nervous, muscular, lymph and circulatory systems.
There are many types of soft tissue problems, some examples are:
- Scars from recent surgury that need to be mobilized as soon as possible, to prevent deep adhesions.
- Deeper ligament problems in more complex patients such as those with chronic low back pain.
- Pain that extends from shoulders to arms or from hips to legs indicating adhered nerve problems.
- Stress-induced headache pain causing shortening of the muscles of the neck.
- Over-use injuries such as tennis elbow, which damage tendons.
- Swelling of the foot and ankle following a severe sprain that limits movement.
Our trained physical therapists localize the source of pain or movement restriction through skilled, layer-by layer assessment, looking for soft tissue restrictions that will decrease motion and cause pain. Once identified, restrictions are matched with a wide variety of hands-on techniques that ‘free’ these restrictions. The goals of STM are to return normal softness and function to soft tissues, and to decrease pain. Treated muscles, nerves, tendons or ligaments are now optimally prepared to exercise.