A number of hands-on techniques can be utilized to reduce muscle spasm, provide pain relief, improve joint mobility, reduce soft tissue adhesions, mobilise deep structures, and heighten proprioception. These can be used individually or together as part of a rehabilitation package.
Various massage techniques can be used during acute and chronic phases of injury to the musculo-skeletal system. Massage involves using specific targeted strokes to;
- Reduce/release muscle spasm
- Increase/maintain mobility of muscles/ joints
- Promote circulation and aid lymphatic drainage
- Assist with pain relief (natural opiate)
- Break down adhesions /scar tissue
Myofascial Release is a hands-on gentle massage therapy, applying sustained pressure into the fascia. As this is the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures in the body, it is important to keep it healthy and stretched. Damage to the fascia can lead to dysfunction causing adhesions, inflammation or scar tissue and because it runs throughout our bodies, it can cause referred pain in other areas.
Trigger Point Deactivation
This treatment is effective on problems within specific muscle groups. A trigger point can both shorten and/or weaken a muscle. It usually lies within a taut band of a muscle and prevents that muscle from reaching full length. By locating and applying consistent pressure, the adhered muscle fibres will spread apart and the trigger point will refer the pain. The muscle is then stretched to its normal range.
Peripheral and Spinal Joint Mobilisation
Joint mobilisation involves moving joints through their normal range using graded passive movements. This can lead to increased mobility at a specific joint (either spinal or peripheral), increase proprioceptive awareness, decreased pain, and reduced muscle spasm. The techniques used in joint assessment and mobilisation are therefore very effective in the treatment of painful arthritic joints (spinal or limb) and any injured joints which would also include damage to cartilage, ligaments, muscles or tendons.
Passive Stretches and Range of Movement Exercises.
Passive stretching is a slow stretch which involves the applying an external force on the limb to move it into a new position. There are many benefits of correctly applied passive stretches, such as increased flexibility of the joints and extensibility of periarticular tissues, muscles and tendons. Passive stretching can also help with:
- Relieving muscle spasms after injury.
- Preventing muscle fatigue and soreness when used in “cooling down” after exercise.
- Release and open joints.
- Lengthen and increase the elasticity of muscles.
- Prevention of scar tissue adhesions immediately following injury.
- Relaxing the animal.
Range of movement exercises can be carried out alongside stretching, and are useful in reducing the effects of immobilisation and disuse of the joint and the soft tissues that pass over
it. To maintain the range of movement, it is important to move the joints and muscles through their available range on a regular basis. Range of movement exercises can also help with:
- Preventing joint contracture and soft tissue shortening.
- Reducing pain.
- Increasing lymphatic and blood flow.
- Increase production of synovial fluid in the joint.
- Muscle strengthening.
The best time to start this is as soon after surgery as possible.