Transverse Friction Massage, sometimes referred to as TFM, is a transverse connective tissue therapy applied directly by the fingers. Transverse frictions use an oscillating pressure applied across the direction of the tissue fibres. This technique is used mainly on tendon or ligament injuries to help break down thickened, pain-producing scar tissue. If these lesions are not reduced then they are likely to cause further irritation, and degenerate more quickly than they should. This technique is valuable in treating muscle, tendon, and ligamentous injuries in both acute and chronic conditions.
What is Transverse Friction Massage?
Transverse means to go across and friction means to apply pressure to the muscles underneath the skin so the transverse friction massage technique simply means to moving the skin, with your fingers, transversely, or across, the muscle fibers to break-up adhesion and muscle knots in the tissue, increase circulation and therefore improve flexibility and pliability of that muscle. TFM can be used as a deep tissue technique, performed at the site of an injury, to breakdown accumulated scar tissue and make the muscle more flexible, pliable, and a more functional tissue. By increasing circulation to the muscle you're decreasing the problems that the muscle has with performance, pain and discomfort.
What to Expect During a Friction Massage
When our licensed massage therapist is performing the transverse frictional massage technique the first step is to bring the joint into full range, or full stretch of motion. Then the fingers are typically used to apply pressure over, or across, the muscle fibers. Many massage therapists will incorporate transverse frictional massage into their typical therapeutic massage session for 3 - 5 minutes. At Superior Spine Care, if you are specifically getting a massage to recover from sports injury or to improve performance, we find our athletes and patients concerned with sports chiropractic treatments benefit more from 8-12 minutes of transverse friction massage with every 30 minute massage session in order to progress patient recovery with less treatments.
Why is Deep Friction Massage so Effective?
Transverse friction massage (TFM), also known as deep friction massage and cross friction massage, is unlike longitudinal gliding massage, meant to enhance circulation and return of fluids. The purpose of the friction massage is to cause a transverse movement of the collagen fibers to helps in preventing adhesion formation or to break up adhesion already formed. This research has shown that friction massage directly affects the manner in which tissue heals. When an injury occurs it is healed by the formation of scar tissue, this scar tissue covers the damage in all different directions and therefore is not very flexible or functional - causes loss of mobility, pain and discomfort. Deep friction massage breaks down the scar tissue that naturally forms (adhesion) when tissue is damaged and allows the tissue to heal in a more functional way. This is accomplished by combining tissue breakdown with muscle lengthening procedures and specific rehabilitation exercises prescribed by either our Chiropractor or Physical Therapist. This combination allows the tissue to heal with a greater percentage of normal tissue. In addition, any scar tissue that forms will be laid down in the same direction as the normal tissue fibers, making it more functional and flexible.