Soft Tissue Work (STW) is one technique you can include to get rid of aches, pains, and muscle tightness to enhance your training and performance. STW will increase your quality of life in everyday movements. Soft Tissue Work seems to be absent from most people’s training and exercise regimens. STW will take about 15 minutes each day.
Yes, I said devote 15 minutes of your day to STW and you will feel better, move better, be able to train harder, and improve performance. There are many reasons why including STW is so important. Muscles can get very dense just from normal daily life. Soft Tissue Work breaks up that density and makes your muscles more adaptable to change (which is the whole point of training and stretching). We train to change the contractile abilities of the muscles. It doesn’t make much sense to do this if we don’t improve and maximize the contractile quality of the muscle at the outset.
So what exactly is STW?
Grab a foam roller, tennis ball, or lacrosse ball and start mashing all the soft tissue in your body.
STW is more effective when you rock side to side against the muscle, not roll up and down. Stay off your bones. Soft tissue is just that- soft. You should be able to easily manipulate it. If you can’t, start smashing and mashing that area. It will probably hurt and it may hurt badly sometimes. Try to stay relaxed, avoid tensing up, and enjoy the pain. This technique may eliminate tight bands in your muscles and help you achieve body positions you could never find.
Many of us are lacking shoulder or hip range of motion. No matter how much you stretch or train, it just doesn’t seem like you can get your body in the proper positions for a Deadlift, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Squat, or Row variation. Improper movement patterns and activity that promotes poor posture have contributed to this lack of range of motion. STW will release the connective tissue and allow us to improve joint range of motion for training.
The more we do the STW and find actual proper positions, then the more we will always be in correct posture, an area that needs work for most everyone.
I can tell you that it will be difficult to find proper posture and eliminate everyday aches and pains without STW.
Soft Tissue Work also allows muscles and tendons to adapt more to the training and stress we put it under.
This means even better results with the same amount of effort!
Justin Heinle is a Tidewater Performance Coach at the Tidewater Performance Center in Gloucester.