Soft Tissue Mobilization: Enhance Movement With PT

PT Helps Back Pain

Everything You Need to Know About Soft Tissue Mobilization in Physical Therapy


Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM) is a physical therapy technique used to reduce pain and improve movement in the body by targeting soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. The goal of STM is to release tension in these areas and increase mobility. It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its effectiveness in treating chronic pain and treating a variety of injuries.

What is Soft Tissue Mobilization?

Soft tissue mobilization is a physical therapy technique that applies pressure to the soft tissues of the body in order to reduce pain and improve movement. It involves stretching, massaging, and manipulating the affected area in order to release tension and increase mobility. STM can be used in combination with other physical therapy techniques such as ultrasound or stretching exercises.

The Science Behind Soft Tissue Mobilization

Soft tissue mobilization is based on the principles of manual therapy. Manual therapists use their hands to manipulate and stretch the soft tissues of the body in order to reduce pain and improve mobility. This type of treatment can help increase circulation, reduce inflammation, and break up scar tissue. It also helps to restore muscle balance by stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak ones.

Benefits and Uses of Soft Tissue Mobilization in Physical Therapy

Soft tissue mobilization is beneficial for a variety of conditions including chronic pain, tendonitis, muscle strains, sprains, bursitis, fibromyalgia, and frozen shoulder. It can also be used to improve flexibility and range of motion after an injury or surgery. STM has been shown to reduce pain, improve function, and increase range of motion in patients.

The Soft Tissue Mobilization Procedure

When performing soft tissue mobilization, the physical therapist will first assess the patient’s condition and range of motion before beginning treatment. The therapist will then use their hands to massage, stretch, and manipulate the affected area in order to release tension and improve mobility. The treatment may also include ultrasound or stretching exercises to further reduce pain and increase range of motion.

Risks and Side Effects

Soft tissue mobilization is generally considered safe, however, there are some risks associated with the procedure. These include bruising, soreness, or redness in the treated area. It is important for patients to follow their therapist’s instructions and to report any discomfort or side effects.

Comparisons with Other Techniques

Soft tissue mobilization can be compared to other forms of physical therapy such as stretching, massage, and ultrasound. STM is typically more focused on the affected area than these other techniques, however, it can be used in conjunction with them in order to provide a more comprehensive treatment plan.


Soft tissue mobilization is an effective physical therapy treatment that can be used to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and improve mobility. It is generally considered safe with minimal side effects, however, practitioners must be certified by the American Physical Therapy Association in order to perform this procedure.