Soft Tissue and Movement

Soft Tissue and Movement

“If you don’t use it, you lose it” and “To lose it, you had to have it”

This first quote,“If you don’t use it, you lose it”, has more than likely been said in your presence or has even been said by you to describe any number of scenarios. In the strength and conditioning field, this is most applicable when talking about optimal movement patterns.

This one is probably the easier of the two for you to relate to. The less the movement is used over time, the more likely it is that the movement will be difficult for you. Simple enough.

The second quote, “To lose it, you had to have it”, has similar implications but might take a little more explaining. Nearly everyone has “had it” with “it” being healthy and pliable soft tissue at a common point in their lifetime, childhood.

Barring any injuries, movements such as squatting, jumping and tumbling were simple to you as a child because you had limited to no restrictions in soft tissue and used those movement patterns frequently. Are these movements simple for you at this point in time?

The point at which you “lose it” (when you accumulate restrictions in soft tissue) is when you adopt poor positions regularly without doing anything to counteract these positions. Poor positions create tensions and adhesions in areas that would normally function well. This type of positioning issue followed by a restriction issue can continue to accumulate. Don’t panic, there is good news!


Q: How, do you ask?

A: By incorporating regular soft tissue work and assessment of your movement patterns. This week we will focus on the soft tissue portion.

Soft tissue work is a self-maintenance activity where you implement a variety of strategies and equipment to preserve the health of soft tissue. It is used by endurance athletes to maintain tissue integrity and decrease the likelihood of overuse injuries.

Sample implements that can be used for soft tissue work

Pictured: Trigger Point Roller, Add-A-Day, Softball, LAX ball and 5 inch ball

Pictured: Trigger Point Roller, Add-A-Day, Softball, LAX ball and 5 inch ball

The main impact that soft tissue work has on the muscle and fascia is:

a.       Increased blood flow to the area

b.      Increased flexibility & movement capabilities

c.       Decreased soreness

You can fit soft tissue work into your schedule as a pre-workout, a post-workout or a between workout activity. As long as you are consistent in your approach, there is no inappropriate time to add in soft tissue work. A usual length for soft tissue work is 5 minutes.

Despite the short time frame, the session should be one of the most intense portions of your workout! If you are attacking an area appropriately, you should get to a score of 8-9 out of 10 on the discomfort scale (with 10 marking the highest level of discomfort).

With this being said, it is important to distinguish the difference between discomfort and pain. Discomfort is bearable, may diminish over time and has a dull feeling. Pain is a sharp, unbearable feeling that persists. Soft tissue work should cause discomfort but not pain.

Although each individual may have specific target areas, the approach to soft tissue should be systematic. Tension in one area feeds in the area immediately above or below it. With this in mind, all areas should be maintained regularly.

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