How can manual therapy help me?
If you are experiencing increased pain and stiffening in any of your joints and muscles, manual therapy can help. Patients seek out this type of physical therapy for a variety of mobility issues.
For example, you may be finding it difficult to get up from a sitting or lying position, as well as bending over, without back pain and stiffness. You may also find that your neck or shoulders “freeze” and give you pain when you pursue everyday actions such as reaching for items or driving. In fact, debilitating pain and stiffness in muscles and joints can happen virtually anywhere on your body.
What kinds of manual therapy exist?
Manual therapy is the hands-on component of physical therapy, but there are several different sub-categories within the practice of manual therapy. Each has its own benefits depending on what the underlying problem is. Among the most widely used are:
Soft Tissue Massage
Soft tissue mobilization, or massage, focuses on muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Often if a patient hasn’t had a chance to use a set of muscles due to illness or has been injured in that area, the tissues can become scarred and robbed of the precious fluids that promote flexibility. Soft tissue massage focuses on limbering up these damaged areas while promoting overall wellness.
A “restricted joint” issue often occurs after an injury, such as falling and twisting your back or wrenching your shoulder. The injury to the joint leads to muscle spasms and restricted movement. A skilled physical therapist practices joint mobilization movements such as a “glide and slide” of opposing bones in order to get the joints working properly again.
At times muscles work themselves into abnormal states in which the muscle’s stretch reflex has difficulty relaxing itself. To treat this, physical therapists use a technique known as “strain/counter strain” that guides the problematic muscle into positions that are “opposite” the ones at which pain and tenderness starts. Staying in this position of slight tension helps relieve the spasms by gently pulling the muscles into the opposite direction of the reflex spasms.