Soft Tissue Release – Case Study

A 36 year old female in otherwise good health presented with a painful neck, stiffness, and headaches that have been related to a car accident one year ago, where she obtained a whiplash injury.

An initial assessment showed a restriction in neck movement to the right hand side, which indicated a definite tightness at the origin of the sternocleidomastoid muscles. Further assessment revealed additional restrictions at the origin of the levator scapulae and middle scalene muscles.

Soft tissue release (STR) treatment:

The generalised muscle tightness in the neck and shoulder was treated, with focus on the sternocleidomastoid muscle, levator scapulae and middle scalenes.

The STR involved a manual pressure applied to a shortened muscles in the top of the neck. The patient moved her head in a direction that lengthened the muscles. During the movement I maintained the tension on the muscle, as it slid out from under my fingers. The client has described the treatment to reproduce a “good pain” and stated that “it felt like a stretch that you need but can’t do yourself”.


Having had the neck pain, stiffness and headaches for the past year, the client reported feeling “looser” and “lighter” with the headaches being completely gone after undergoing three treatments over seven weeks, along with introducing yoga and self-stretches.


The pain from the neck muscles has long been known to be involved in the “triggering” process in the onset of the headaches. In this case the sternocleidomastoid muscle along with scalenes and levator scapulae had shortened which in turn restricted movement in the neck and assisted the onset of the headaches. The STR in this case worked by increasing the nervous system’s tolerance to stretch the muscle and in turn helped to eliminate the triggering of her headaches.

So what are your thoughts on Soft Tissue Release? Are you struggling with shoulder or neck aches?

Why not give it a try and book a massage session to find out if it will work for your ‘stubborn’ muscles.

Share with your friends.