August 31, 2023 By BridgeAthletic

Simple Rules for Better Soft Tissue Care & Improving Mobility


This post has been adapted from a more detailed article that appears in BridgeAthletic’s new ebook called “Raising the Bar: How World-Class Coaches Elevate Their Programming”. You can download the complete eBook for free to get tips and advice from experts at Exos, FMS, Hyperice, Results Fitness, and more.


Dr. Kelly Starrett is a physical therapist, a strength & conditioning coach, a New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder of The Ready State. As a consultant to professional athletes and coaches, U.S. Olympic teams, and tactical organizations, his methods on mobility can be equally applied to children, 9-5ers, and anyone dealing with injury and chronic pain. In this post, we will explore the techniques that Starrett uses to help anyone feel and perform better.


Empowering Trainers to Take Charge of Soft Tissue Care


Dr. Kelly Starrett believes that trainers and coaches should take the lead when it comes to soft tissue care. He challenges the idea that clients' pain and movement limitations should be ignored and instead suggests incorporating a dynamic warm-up at the beginning of each session to address any lingering tissue sensitization. By prioritizing training while also addressing discomfort and limitations, individuals can be empowered to care for their own bodies and make informed decisions about what feels good and what doesn't.

“For too long, we’ve essentially told our clients or athletes… Your pain isn’t my problem. Your ability to access position isn’t my problem. Because it’s not in my theoretical practice. So I’ll just let you treat yourself with ibuprofen and THC and bourbon and quick fixes.” 

The ultimate goal is to shift the responsibility of care back to the individual, teaching them how to tend to their bodies through habits and repeated teachings during training sessions. By providing knowledge and tools to address pain and movement issues, trainers can empower their clients to take charge of their own well-being through better self-care practices.


10-Minutes A Day


According to Starrett, incorporating a minimum of 10 minutes of basic soft tissue care into your daily routine can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. He compares this to brushing your teeth, emphasizing the importance of making it a daily habit. To make it easier to incorporate into your routine, he suggests doing it before bedtime, as it can also improve sleep quality.


To make it even more convenient, he recommends keeping a foam roller or massage gun next to your couch and using it while watching TV. One great option is the Hyperice Volt, which is a passive modality that people can intuitively use where they need it without worrying about overdoing it. By making soft tissue care a consistent part of your daily routine, you can improve your mobility, reduce the risk of injury, and feel better overall.


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4-4-8 Breathing


Soft tissue care is often seen as a painful and uncomfortable experience, with people believing that the more pain they feel, the more effective it must be. However, this isn't necessarily the case. Dr. Kelly Starrett emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between discomfort and effectiveness when it comes to soft tissue care.


If you find yourself struggling to breathe in a certain position, it's a sign that you're working too hard and may be signaling to your brain that it's not safe. This is where the 4-4-8 technique comes in handy. By using our breath to own positions and improve discomfort, we can create a more effective and safe soft tissue care routine.


To use the 4-4-8 technique, simply inhale for four seconds, contract the muscle for four seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat this process until the spot feels better, which usually only takes two or three cycles. This method not only helps with soft tissue care but also improves your breathing technique, allowing you to better manage stress and anxiety.


The Basics of Regional Interdependency


Soft tissue work on specific areas of the body can have a ripple effect on other regions, demonstrating the concept of regional interdependency. For example, addressing tightness in the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps can often alleviate knee pain. By understanding this relationship, individuals can better target their soft tissue work to address pain and movement limitations in a more holistic way.

"We’re not going to roll or massage gun a joint itself, but we can work the tissue above or below it. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Then, when your client’s knee aches after a long trail run, they’ll know how to self-soothe — they’ll know it’s not an emergency."

Simple Concepts


Simple techniques such as 10 minutes of soft tissue care per day, 4-4-8 breathing, and regional interdependency can have a big impact on overall well-being and adherence to self-care practices. Coaches can also emphasize the positive results of these practices to encourage adherence and empower their clients to take charge of their own well-being. By incorporating these techniques into your daily routine, you can improve your mobility, reduce the risk of injury, and feel better overall.


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About the Author


At Bridge, we are all athletes and coaches first. As athletes, our team has experienced everything from riding the pine on JV, to winning NCAA championships, to competing in the Olympic Games. As coaches, we have helped countless athletes reach their full potential, winning everything from age group section championships to Olympic Gold Medals.

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