Joints are the hinges in the body which allow for movement, some quite freely (e.g. the shoulder), and some with barely any movement at all (e.g. suture joints between the skull bones).
The structures which limit movement at any joint are muscles, ligaments and tendons, plus the actual structural design of the bones forming the joint. Other factors which limit range of movement can be nerve length and activation, fascia and skin, edema (swelling), soft tissue apposition, joint fluid viscosity (how easy the movement is) and fluid quantity.
The most common type is the synovial joint, an example being the knee joint. Here we find the bone ends covered in articular cartilage (a protective layer of connective tissue), an articular cavity, a ligamentous capsule and the synovial membrane (which secretes synovial fluid to lubricate the inside of the articular capsule). Just like joints in a mechanical item need lubrication, so do human joints, and this is where synovial fluid comes in. In addition to lubricating the articular cartilage, the fluid brings nutrients and oxygen to the joint, and removes waste products such as carbon dioxide back into the blood stream.
Soft Tissue Therapy can be beneficial for increasing the mobility of joints by:
- reducing any restrictions/adhesions in the fascia
- breaking down scar tissue that could be restricting movement
- decreasing any thickening of the connective tissues (often a result of injury)
- reducing swelling and joint stiffness with lymphatic drainage
Reducing the stress and restrictions such as scar tissue and connective tissue enables joints to move freely and through their full range. This means reduced joint stress. If soft tissues are less restricted then your joints will be more flexible – you will perform better and feel freer.