So, What Exactly is it?
Manual therapy could be referred to as “hands-on-therapy,” since all of the different types of manual therapy incorporate a therapist’s hands working with your joints, muscles and nervous system to help relieve pain, improve motion, reduce tension, and promote better circulation.
Manual therapy is one of the core interventions a therapist uses to assist a patient in solving their problem and there are a variety of techniques that have been developed over time to help in the process of getting better.
Quality hands on individualized care is one of the criteria many patients use to judge if a practice is going to meet their needs. Manual therapy is often a needed component to a comprehensive treatment plan in order to overcome movement restrictions, trigger points (tender knots in muscles), muscle tightness all of which can be responsible for ongoing pain.
Expert hands on care is really a mainstay to help patients with complex injuries or chronic pain. Manual therapy is a broad word that covers numerous techniques. These techniques originated from all over the world as the profession of physical therapy has grown and built a network of sharing and collaboration. Research is forever building to validate these techniques.
Manual therapy is just one aspect of the total care of helping someone get better. These techniques often represent the initial phase of care in restoring motion, reducing pain, swelling, and calming guarded movement. They represent what the PT or assistant will be doing to the patient and from there care will typically advance into a more active program of range of motion, strengthening, balance and functional training.
It has been said physical therapy is an art based on a science and this could be a no truer statement when appreciating how manual therapy can be applied to a patient. There is the science or method and rationale, and then there is how it is applied by the therapist and that is the art.
What are the Different Types of Manual Therapy
These techniques address restricted movement in a joint. If you had a knee replaced or a rotator cuff repaired, you will have restricted joint motion and may need to have the joint mobilized to help calm muscle tension, improve tissue extensibility, reduce swelling all to improve the motion within a joint. It is a very common procedure, usually is not painful, and can be applied to all joints in the body to improve motion and reduce pain.
Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM)
There are a variety of techniques that fall under the category of STM such as deep tissue manipulation, myofascial mobilization, trigger point release, and massage. Like joint mobilization, STM is often a key part of the treatment plan to help people overcome restricted motion and relieve pain. Considering there are over 600 muscles in the body, there is notable potential for muscle tightness and pain. These techniques are used frequently to handle the effects of heavy muscle use in sports and work which creates shortened muscle tissue or after an injury or surgery. STM is a good prelude to stretching as it warms and prepares the tissue to lengthen.
Manual traction is a specialized form of joint mobilization. Both techniques work to create space in and around the joint but traction is applied more to the spine to relieve stress on a nerve as it exits the spinal column.
This is a specialized form of soft tissue mobilization but with the attention more on the connective tissue or fascia. It represents an evolution of hands on care where there has been further appreciation how the myofascial system can be a significant perpetuator of pain and limitation.
For more information, contact us at Holland, MI center.