CTA: Connective Tissue Acceleration ©


  • Connective tissue acceleration is a term I invented to describe the style and theory behind my primary technique and methodology in treating musculoskeletal joint diseases. It can not be excluded from the larger category of Tui Na (traditional chinese medical massage), which is much broader in its applications. CTA is the way I use Tui Na to treat diseases of the joints, and provides a physiological explanation of why Tui Na used in this manner is so effective.

Connective tissue

  • Connective tissue is a complex set of structures that connect different parts of the body to each other. These tissues often provide structure and support. Connective tissue is in large part a justification for treating the body as a whole (as it connects most of the body) in traditional Chinese medicine rather than separating the body into isolated systems and chemicals without reference to other systems and chemicals. Yes, despite popular belief otherwise, different parts of the body do connect to each other, and if they were disconnected, it would result in either severe deformity or death (falling to pieces). Go holistic medicine!

The theory

  • The connective tissues referred to in CTA are:
    1: The dense connective tissues; namely the tendons and ligaments
    2: Two of the specialized connective tissues; the articular cartilage and the blood.
  • Tendons are the tissues that combine the muscles to the bones, which allow the skeletal muscles to pull on the bones and result in the movement of the body.
  • Ligaments are the tissues that connect the bones to the bones so that we don’t fall apart.
  • Articular cartilage is located at the ends of the bones and provides cushion between the bones as well as providing a smooth surface for the bones to slide over each other
  • Blood is the red (usually) substance that flows through our body and provides oxygen, hormones, nutrients, and other necessary substances to our bodies as well as connecting the entire body to itself.
  • In musculoskeletal diseases injuries to the muscles heal the fastest, the tendons take longer to heal, and the ligaments and articular cartilage take longer still (given equal severity among the aforementioned injuries). Often times injuries to the articular cartilage never fully heal.

Why do some tissues take longer to heal than others?

  • Thank you for asking. This is due to the quantity of blood flow that reaches these tissues. The basic theory in Chinese medicine is that where flow is blocked there is pain, and where there is free flow there is freedom from pain. The vascularity (or quantity of blood vessels) in the mid-tissues of the muscles is the greatest, there is less in the mid-tissues of the tendons, less in the ligaments, and there is no blood vessels or nerves that go through the articular cartilage. As blood flow is required to carry nutrients to repair tissue and carry away waste products, it follows that tissues with greater blood flow enjoy faster healing time.
  • Much of the nutrient supply that reaches the inside of the tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage gets there by diffusion from blood vessels surrounding the surface of these tissues, or diffusion from the synovial fluid in the joint.

What does CTA do?

  • Using appropriate stimulation of compression and decompression of the tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage, osmotic pressure is alternately increased and decreased, accelerating the diffusion into and out of these tissues, so that nutrients go in faster and waste products come out faster and healing time is accelerated closer to the healing time of the muscles.
  • This can be done by practitioner for patient by massaging, pressing, stretching, or passively mobilizing the joints containing the injured tissue.
  • This can also be accomplished through specific exercises, some of which are found in physical therapy. However, I must caution that this usually has a more preventative than curative function and usually is only effective in very minor joint injuries.
  • The self-knowledge of the body and will-power required to cure more advanced joint pathologies with exercise alone usually requires many years of diligent practice seen in some Tai Ji, Yoga, Qi Gong, or Martial Arts practitioners and is often out of reach to the general public.
  • That being said, when correct exercises are combined with correct techniques performed by TCM practitioner, the effects are greater than when either technique is used alone. And since not many can be in the clinic constantly, exercises based on CTA principles are tantamount to decreasing recovery time and maintaining progress outside of the clinic.