If “soft tissue” makes you think of a box of Puff’s Plus, let me introduce you to a different kind of soft tissue. In the body, every muscle, tendon, ligament and band of fascia is considered soft tissue. It’s the stuff that gives shape to the body, creates connections with bones, and enables every kind of movement.
Soft tissue injuries are inevitable and happen in many different ways, from minor bumps and bruises to debilitating pain. Sometimes the cause & effect is obvious, like the way a twisted ankle makes you limp. Other times, micro traumas accumulate until pain *suddenly* appears. The graphic ⬇ describes four common soft tissue issues. Of all the risk factors (shown in bold) notice how “repetitive movements” appear in every section.
Repetitive movements wear down tissue over time. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), repetitive motion injuries stem from too many uninterrupted repetitions of an activity or motion performed in the course of normal work or daily activities. (Full article here) The constant stress of repetition causes tiny tears in the tissue. It’s not problematic as long as the body keeps up with the mending the damaged tissue. However, if the damage outpaces repairs, inflammation and pain will eventually show up. These injuries take time to damage to your body, but they can cause intense pain.
Have you experienced any of these conditions? If so, you know the pain.
Even though certain sports, hobbies and jobs rely heavily on repetitive movements, it’s possible to enjoy them AND steer clear of injury and pain. We’ll delve into prevention, self-care and other treatments next month. Here are a few suggestions in the meantime:
- Listen to your body and don’t “play through it” if you feel pain
- Warm up before activities; Cool down & stretch afterwards
- Give your body appropriate rest & recovery time
- Check your posture and form–Consider a lesson or coaching
If you think you might be at risk for a soft tissue “issue,” know that I offer cost-free consultations, as well specialized massage therapy and self-care guidance. You can schedule an appointment or reach me by email/phone/ text, and those details are here. I also work collaboratively with physicians, acupuncturists, physical therapists, chiropractors and other professionals in the Pittsburgh area.
Pain, stiffness and other minor symptoms are often the early signs that attention is needed. If something hurts that normally doesn’t, reach out to a knowledgeable and trusted professional. Please don’t wait until it gets worse.