Image of a 3d foot
October 10, 2017

Erythema explained

Jamie Fullerton
Head Physiotherapist
Lady performing exercise using resistant band
The effect of ‘clearing out’ the tissues cannot be underestimated. Countless clients have suffered from pain for extraordinary lengths of time to discover that a simple technique could have helped them. But what is this technique you ask? Let us explain...

As we discussed in our previous blog, the basis of massage is to stimulate the healing process. Massaging the tissues on your sore body part generates heat, which is transferred to the tissues via the friction on the skin from hands/elbow/fingers. In turn, this heat causes the blood vessels in the area to dilate (vasodilation), leading to an increase of blood into the area. So there you have it - erythema!

But this is where it gets interesting… 

Blood is the medium that transports all nutrients into the muscles and surrounding tissues, such as tendons, ligaments and the interconnecting fascia. Therefore an increase in the blood causes an increase in red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets – basically, everything the body needs to get you up and running again!

Along with bringing fresh supplies to your battered and abused tissues, this blood also removes old and stale chemicals sat around the injury site. The physical fracturing of the tissues help to break down and dissolve adhesions that are formed at the site of the initial injury which cause restriction around muscles and fascia. 

So how are adhesions formed? 

Adhesions form from natural parts of our bodies and the healing process is similar to scar tissue. They are also common after abdominal surgery. They form when two injured surfaces are close together and the inflammatory exudate (chemicals) causes the fibrin (another fancy chemical) to bond the two surfaces together. In some areas, a group of fibrinolytic enzymes (more chemicals!) work to limit the fibrinous adhesion. 

However, they may struggle to fully remove the gluey like substance due to the injury and because of this, the adhesion persists. The tissue repair cells then penetrate the surface of the adhesion and lay down collagen to form a permanent structure. But how does this fit in with Physiotherapy and sports massage?

How we treat using an erythema

We need to be fairly aggressive in order to break these irritable and limiting structures so to restore full movement. Massage and fractioning techniques are necessary and, when applied correctly, will initially cause some soreness and produce redness on the skin (erythema!). Soreness is normal and it might not feel pleasant at the time but you’ll thank us later - we promise!

If you would like to talk more about this, please feel free to email us or contact

Hope to speak to you soon! 

Are you struggling with an injury or pain that has been troubling you for too long?