Cross Fiber Friction Massage

Many chronic muscle lesions are characterized by deep dull pain which is aggravated by static sustained postures and repetitive motions. In many cases muscles that are badly bruised, over-stretched, or over-stimulated develop deep contracted crossed fibered lesions which inhibit and limit normal muscular function, interfere with normal motion and cause pain.

British osteopath, Dr. James Cyriax, developed a treatment for these soft tissue lesions using a technique called deep transverse friction. This treatment effectively reduces fibrosis and encourages the formation of strong, pliable scar tissue at the site of healing injuries. This technique, also known as cross-fiber frictioning, reduces the roughness that forms between tendons and their sheaths that can result in painful tendonitis. It can also prevent or soften myofascial adhesions.

The doctors have a clear understanding about the nature of these often undiagnosed or mis-diagnosed conditions and will apply this treatment when it is appropriate; frequently providing relief where none was available before.

The Nature of Cross Fibered Friction Massage

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 doctor’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 is initiated only with the informed consent of the client. It is never applied during the initial inflammatory stage in an acute injury.

The first treatment is usually 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. Appropriate application of ice and/or physical modalities following treatment is recommended to reduce post-treatment discomfort.


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