Deep Tissue Body Work Methods for Pain Management


Your body’s soft tissues include the muscles, connective tissue and nerves that support your skeleton and enable you to move. Those tissues often go layers-deep beneath your skin, and can be difficult to isolate. Deep tissue body work pinpoints specific soft tissues and treats them through various methods to relieve pain and restore function to your musculoskeletal system.

There are a number of different methods of deep tissue body work, each based on a unique philosophy and taking a distinct approach. The effectiveness of any method is measured by its ability to improve your joint range of motion and muscle function while alleviating pain. Qualified practitioners of various methods must undergo extensive training and accumulate practical experience to effectively treat patients.

While there are a number of deep tissue methods available, the following four have become increasingly popular in recent years:

  1. Active Release Technique (ART): Considered the gold standard for treatment of athletic injuries, ART addresses the entire structure surrounding an injury, including muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve and fascia. ART is geared to promoting smooth tissue movement, encompassing the breakup of scar tissue, or adhesions, and the restoration of function in minimal treatment time. Adhesions occur when two soft tissue structures become stuck together. They can limit blood flow to the structure, tighten the muscle and decrease the structure’s function, causing pain, weakness and numbness, particularly if the adhesion compresses a nerve. ART breaks up adhesions and improves circulation to the structure, promoting healing.
  2. Rolfing: This technique recognizes the musculoskeletal system as a seamless network of interactive tissues, rather than a collection of distinct parts. Rolfing technique focuses on optimizing connective tissues to release, realign and balance the entire body. The fascia surrounding your musculoskeletal structures can become imbalanced, with some tissue over-stretched and other tissue overly shortened. By lengthening tight tissue and avoiding stretched tissue, Rolfing restores balance to your musculoskeletal system, promoting improved posture, coordinated movement and reduced pain.
  3. Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy (PDMT): Developed by Therese C. Pfimmer, PDMT seeks to change muscular structure at the cellular level by using cross-fiber strokes. It is designed to stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems to promote cellular repair and remove toxic waste from muscle cells. PDMT is said to decrease inflammation and relieve pain, while improving joint range of motion and blood and lymphatic circulation.
  4. Visceral Manipulation Therapy (VM): A method developed by French osteopath and physical therapist Jean-Pierre Barral, VM therapy is directed at the body’s visceral organs, which, when healthy, work together in harmony. However, according to Barral, when one organ develops abnormal tone, adhesions or displacement, it can begin to work against the other organs, and against soft tissues and bones, creating abnormal points of tension and chronic irritation. VM aims to restore harmony and balance to visceral function. It is often used for pelvic and back pain, migraine headaches and other health issues.

Deep Tissue Therapy at NYDNRehab

Whether you are recovering from an injury or suffering chronic pain, the sports medicine specialists at NYDNRehab can help you reduce pain and restore function. We combine innovative treatment methods with state-of-the-art technology to effectively diagnose and treat your musculoskeletal condition. At NYDNRehab, we are dedicated to getting to the root cause of your pain and eliminating it, to restore you to full physical function and improved quality your life.


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