If you regularly participate in some kind of sporting activity, then some form of soft tissue damage seems almost inevitable. Eventually, most people take a particularly hard knock, or land too hard on a knee or ankle, or just overstress their muscles for too long without allowing adequate rest periods for recovery.
Soft tissue damage can haunt you for years, causing near-constant pain that many athletes and sports enthusiasts just learn to ignore, or dull with painkillers. This does not need to be the way! With a bit of work, soft tissue damage can almost always be repaired. You can have your muscle mobility and full range of motion back! Here are five simple tips to help repair your soft tissue damage:
Many athletes are already using sports massages to remove built up lactic acid from their muscles. This greatly shortens recovery time, allowing athletes to go into their next event feeling fresh, and be able to push that little bit harder. The same principles can be used to help your soft tissue injuries. In the interest of full disclosure, I should warn you that this is going to hurt. A lot. But the positive effects of sports and deep tissue massage therapy will be more than worth the pain.
This is the massage option, but without the massage price tag. You can pick up (or make yourself) purpose built foam rollers or balls. (I'm told that you can also just repurpose a lacrosse ball) There are plenty of videos on the internet detailing how to use these tools effectively to help combat the effects of soft tissue damage, so I'm not going to go into the specifics of how to do it here.
As with the massage option above, this option is going to hurt. The first time that you use a foam roller, you are going to think to yourself "This can't be right. Nothing that hurts this much could possibly be helping!" but you will be wrong. Stick with it, and you will find yourself pain-free in no time.
One of the easiest ways to increase flexibility and range of motion in soft tissue is to stretch. This is different to the short, dynamic stretches that you perform before a workout or sports match. To permanently increase range of motion, a stretch should last as much as twenty minutes. This is something that you can do in your downtime.
If you're sitting around with the family in the evening watching a two hour movie, you should see that as an opportunity to perform six different stretches for increasing your flexibility. Again, the internet has already done a much better job of detailing which stretches are most effective that I could ever do here, so I won't try to cover it.
Yin Yoga has much of the same benefits of the stretching program above, except that Yin Yoga classes are taught by professionals who can critique your performance and offer tips for helping to restore your specific soft tissue injury. Yin Yoga is a slow moving yoga style, where each position is held for an extended period of time.
This is an ideal way to increase mobility and range of motion. Yin Yoga classes are available across most of North America and Europe, but if you live elsewhere, it is still worth searching for a local Yoga class.
When nothing else works, go to the professionals. Physiotherapists are highly trained in repair of soft tissue injuries, and they will design you a customized recovery program. It is very likely that they will want you to come back once a week or once a fortnight until you have made a full recovery from your injury. During these meetings, they will test your mobility levels, and adjust your recovery program accordingly.
With all of these options readily available, there is just no need for soft tissue injury to control your life anymore. Get your mobility back. Get pain free. There is no excuse not to!
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