Deep friction massage

Original Editor - Jonas Vangindertael

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Description[edit | edit source]

Deep friction massage is a specific connective tissue massage that was developed by Cyriax.[1] The purpose of deep friction massage is to maintain the mobility within the soft tissue structures of ligament, tendon, and muscle and prevent adherent scars from forming. The massage is deep and must be applied transversely to the specific tissue involved unlike the superficial massage given in the longitudinal direction parallel to the vessels which enhances circulation and return of fluids. Before friction massage can be performed successfully, the correct structure must be found through proper evaluation procedures. The distinction must be made between contractile structures such as the muscle belly, musculotendinous junction, tendon, and tendon-periosteal junction and noncontractile structures such as the joint capsule, bursae, fascia, dura mater, and ligament. [2]

In addition to finding the right spot, the massage must also be given the most effective way by following these basic principles:

  1. The proper location must be found through proper evaluation procedures and palpation of the specific tendon, ligament, or muscle.
  2. Friction massage must be given across the affected fibers. The thicker and stronger a normal structure, the more important friction is given strictly across the grain.
  3. The therapist's fingers and patient's skin must move as one, otherwise moving subcutaneous fascia against muscle or ligament could lead to blister formation or subcutaneous bruising.
  4. The friction massage must have sufficient sweep and be deep enough.
  5. The patient must be in a comfortable position.[3]

The frequency and duration of treatment varies with the severity and type of the injury. In a recent injury, i.e. ligament sprain, start daily with gentle massage to keep mobility. It is important for the therapist to distinguish between tenderness and pain. Tenderness can be due to deep friction and can persist long after the pain disappears. Pain is elicited by clinical assessment and reassessment. Deep friction massage may be given every other day or when the excess tenderness has worn off. The duration of the treatment varies; for example, with an acute ligamentous injury, the gentle massage performed may last only 1-2 minutes. However, it may well take several minutes to be able to get your fingers on the structure depending on the severity of pain. With deep friction massage, the treatment will last 10-15 minutes.

Uses[edit | edit source]

  • Pain relief
    • The analgesic effect of the massage can last up to 24 hours.[4]
  • Stimulation of fiber orientation in regenerating connective tissue
    • Transverse friction when applied in early repair cycle enhances remodeling and hence reorientation of the collagen fibers in a longitudinal manner.[5]
  • Prevention of adhesion formation
    • As friction massage causes a transverse movement of the collagen fibers it helps in preventing adhesion formation. In situations where adhesion are already formed a more intense friction can help to break them as well. In such cases friction is used to mobilize the scar tissue and break the cross linkages between the connective tissues and the surrounding structures.[6]
  • Traumatic hyperaemia
    • As it is a forceful and deep movement it effectively causes increased blood flow to the local area of application through vasodilatation. This assists in removal of chemical irritants and allows the transportation of endogenous opiates, thus causing pain relief.

Contraindications[edit | edit source]

  • Ossification and calcification of soft tissues
  • Rheumatoid tendinous lesions
  • Ulcers, blisters or psoriasis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Large haematomas in the area
  • Bursitis
  • Local sepsis
  • Any local skin diseases

Key Evidence[edit | edit source]

Although there is presently no definitive research relative to friction massage and connective tissue, there certainly have been many cases of patients treated by therapists with positive results. Additional rationale for using friction massage could well be the expansion of Stearn's connective tissue theory through the understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and repair process which exist. A discussion of relevant literature is presented so that a physiotherapist can achieve an understanding of connective tissue in order to effectively and appropriately use friction massage.[7][8]

The use of movement in the treatment of soft tissue injuries to muscle, ligament, and tendon is based upon the work of Stearn. She observed the fibroblastic activity in the healing of connective tissue as well as possible scar formation, as related to the effect of movement. Her conclusions were that fibrils form almost immediately and that external factors were responsible for the development of an orderly arrangement of the fibrils. Cyriax and Russell contend that "gentle passive movements do not detach fibrils from their proper formation at the healing breach, but prevent their continued adherence at abnormal sites.[9]

Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Cyriax J. Textbook of orthopaedic medicine. 11th ed. London: Bailliere Tindall:1984
  2. D. Stasinopoulos, M. I. Johnson; Cyriax physiotherapy for tennis elbow/lateral epicondylitis; Br J Sports Med 2004;38:675-677
  3. Michael J. Callaghan; The role of massage in the management of the athlete: a review; Physiotherapy Modalities 1993; 27(1)
  4. De Bruijn R. Deep transverse friction: its analgesic effects. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 1984;5:35-36
  5. Buckwalter JA. The effects of early motion on healing of musculoskeletal tissues. Hand Clin. 1996;12(1):13-24
  6. Walker H. Deep transverse frictions in ligament healing. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1984;6(2):89-94
  7. César Fernandez-de-las-Penas, Cristina Alonso-Blanco, Josué Fernandez-Carnero, Juan Carlos Miangolarra-Page; The immediate effect of ischemic compression technique and transverse friction massage on tenderness of active and latent myofascial trigger points: a pilot study; Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2006) 10, 3–9
  8. Amit V. Nagrale, Christopher R. Herd, Shyam Ganvir and Gopichand Ramteke; Cyriax Physiotherapy Versus Phonophoresis with Supervised Exercise in Subjects with Lateral Epicondylalgia: A Randomized Clinical Trial; Journal of Manual Manipulative Therapy 2009; 17(3): 171–178.
  9. César Fernandez-de-las-Penas, Cristina Alonso-Blanco, Josué Fernandez-Carnero, Juan Carlos Miangolarra-Page; The immediate effect of ischemic compression technique and transverse friction massage on tenderness of active and latent myofascial trigger points: a pilot study; Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2006) 10, 3–9