Cross-Fiber Massage Technique, or cross-fiber friction, or deep transverse friction, is one of the only massage techniques that effectively reduces fibrosis and encourages the formation of strong, pliable scar tissue at the site of healing injuries. This technique reduces the crystalline roughness that forms between tendons and their sheaths that can result in painful tendonitis. It can also prevent or soften myofascial adhesions.
A deep, non-gliding, oil-less friction stroke, cross-fiber friction is administered with a braced finger or thumb moving across the grain of a muscle, tendon or ligament. The therapist’s thumb and the client’s skin move as one over the exact site of the lesion with sufficient sweep and duration to create a mechanical effect on the tissue treated. The stroke must be applied directly at the site of the lesion, at right angles to the fibers, and be broad enough to separate the fibers without bouncing over them. The treatment is painful, though always within tolerance, and should be initiated only with the informed consent of our patients and not applied during the initial inflammatory stage in an acute injury.
Our first massage treatment is conservative, lasting one or two minutes only, followed by a day of rest for the treated part. The treatment is resumed on alternate days until the pain abates and full usage is returned, usually within 3 to 10 sessions.
Cross-Fiber Massage to Reduce Risk of Reinjury
Cross-fiber friction is used to broaden, separate, and break up adhesions. Cross-fiber friction is excellent in relieving muscular restrictions that result from scar tissue. Cross-fiber friction is applied transversely across the muscle, tendon, or ligament fibers. It is broad enough to cover the fiber without plucking the fiber. It is deep enough to reach the targeted area. In some cases, cross-fiber friction is performed by applying steady pressure on an area and tissue while moving the underlying bone. In this technique it is the boney structure that achieves the cross-fiber movement. Cross-fiber friction is very useful in the rehabilitation of a fibrous tissue injury. Cross-fiber friction promotes the formation of elastic fibrous tissue while reducing the formation of scar tissue. The healed injury has a decreased chance of reinjury. The area regains strength, pliability, and movement. Cross-fiber friction restores pliability and mobility to old injuries.