Manual therapy is the skilled use of the therapists hands to diagnose and treat – it encompasses both joint and soft tissue mobilization techniques. Manual therapy is used to improve the movement of joints, muscles, nerves.
Joint techniques are used on joints that are not moving properly and/or painful.
Mobilization of a joint has various benefits. It can stimulate circulation to the local area to improve tissue healing, stimulate mechanoreceptors to decrease pain messages sent to the brain, increase joint lubrication, increase joint capsule elasticity, and improve joint range of motion.
Joint mobilization can help with conditions such as a ‘kinked’ neck when you wake up in the morning (acute wry neck), an inability to perform a shoulder check (neck rotation), or a stiff ankle (post ankle sprain).
Soft Tissue mobilization techniques are used on muscles, tendons and ligaments to restore normal function.
Often tight muscles are the first to restrict joint motion and so it is important to restore proper muscle length. Manual techniques such as soft tissue massage, muscle energy techniques (MET’s), active release techniques (ART), and deep frictions can be used.
Soft tissue mobilization can be used to help with conditions like muscular tension in the neck and shoulder, tendonitis, ligament sprains, and muscle strains.