What is manual therapy?
Manual therapy includes any treatment technique where the physical therapist uses hands on techniques or tools to improve soft tissue, joint or nerve mobility. Manual physical therapy techniques are used to decrease muscle tension or muscle spasms, improve the movement of connective tissue, improve range of motion of a joint and to improve how nerves move through the body. A physical therapist may use one or more manual therapy techniques in a treatment session, often in combination with therapeutic exercise or neuro-reeducation, for the most effective results.
Manual Therapy Techniques
Soft tissue mobilization
Soft tissue mobilization is a manual therapy technique used to treat tension or injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. Soft tissue techniques may include specific techniques such as myofascial release, strain/counter-strain, active release, or instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. These techniques can be helpful to decrease pain and to improve a patient’s functional mobility.
Joint mobilization is a skilled manual therapy technique that is utilized to restore motion to a restricted joint. Joint mobilization techniques may include direct mobilization or manipulation of a peripheral joint or specific segment in the spine, or indirect mobilization using muscle energy techniques to release tension in muscles around the joint. Increasing mobility in joint assists with the patient’s ability to move more freely and improve pain.
Neural Mobility or neural mobilization is a technique that is used to reestablish a nerves ability to move throughout the body. Often times when a patient experiences something like a herniated disc or carpal tunnel syndrome, the nerve has become compressed, or chinked. Physical therapists use specialized manual techniques to free up the nerve and improve its ability to move through the body. These techniques are often referred to as neural flossing or neural mobility.