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Soft Tissue Mobilization & Active Mobility Techniques

Hand & Forearm Injury Interventions

Do you work with your hands? Gripping, pulling, pushing, lifting, carrying, keying, mousing, twisting, turning, opening/closing - we use our hands for countless actions each day. Repetitive movements create micro-traumas, which over time may develop into a 'repetitive stress injury' (RSI) - defined as damage and pain associated with inflammation, tissue damage and muscle strain from repeated tasks. There are some common RSIs you may have heard from your doctor including 'Carpal Tunnel Syndrome' and 'Lateral/Medial Epicondylitis' (a.k.a. "Tennis/Golfer's Elbow"). These are very common soft tissue injuries we see in clinic and may impact many dimensions of anatomy (e.g. fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and vessels).

Our soft tissues are a continuum that work in concert to create movement. When an injury occurs, the trauma causes restriction between these structures. At this point of injury, tissues become "congested", "gummy", or "restricted" which may limit mobility and create pain. The techniques outlined in this article are meant to a help with pain and improve mobility in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. We can improve mobility through the manipulation of soft tissue layers, restoring muscle strength and improving neuromuscular stability.

To restore proper movement, we must work on mobility on a segmental level (i.e. the elbow joint), AND on an integrated level (i.e. the mobility of all joints even remotely connected to the elbow - elbow, radio-ulnar, shoulder, scapulo-thoracic, acromio-clavicular, spine, hips - and the list goes on!). Said another way, to heal from an isolated injury, we must restore proper movement in that isolated area, segmental, as well as in other parts of the body further away from the area, integrated mobility.

Below I share with you two examples of the application of 1) soft tissue mobilization and 2) integrated corrective exercises, to improve soft tissue mobility associated with upper extremity injuries.

VIDEO 1: Forearm Soft Tissue Technique

  • Frequency - perform 2-3 x/week ('as needed')

  • Intensity - "mild to moderate", avoid painful movements

  • Movement - move slowly through wrist/hand/finger flexion and extension

  • Repetitions - perform 6-8 reps of each movement at each trigger point

  • Sets - move through 2-3 trigger points for each set

  • Focus/Goal - create 'mild to moderate' pressure at each trigger point increasing mobility of wrist/hand/fingers

  • *** Avoid painful movements during and following technique

VIDEO 2: Upper Extremity Corrective Exercise

Utilize this daily hygiene corrective exercise to improve range of motion of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand, while integrating control through the lower body, pelvis/hips, and spine. As I mentioned, our body does not operate in isolation. But rather, it is a continuum of integrated soft tissues, organs and bones.

  • Frequency - 1-5 x/day

  • Intensity - "mild to moderate"

  • Hold - 6-8 second holds at highest 'tension' point

  • Repetitions - perform 6-8 reps of each movement

  • Sets - 1 series of movements each bout

  • Focus/Goal - to create 'active tension' through the body using musculature from the feet, hips, spine, shoulders and head. It is not simply putting a 'stretch' on a single area of the body (i.e. chest stretch).

When we integrate acupuncture, soft tissue mobilization and corrective exercise we create positive, long lasting change to reduce pain, and restore strength and function.

For more information on how we can help please contact us directly.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to replace Medical advice from a Physician. Consult a Physician prior to beginning any new exercise, dietary or lifestyle changes.

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