Manual Therapy encompasses any type of therapy provided by hands or through the assistance of hand held instruments. This therapy is provided by licensed healthcare providers, mainly athletic trainers (ATCs), physical therapists (DPT, MSPT), occupational therapists (MSOT), chiropractors (DCs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs). These health care providers have been trained and have a vast understanding of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and musculoskeletal injuries and conditions that occur in the body. Treatments can involve joint mobilizations (moving joints in specific motions to regain movement and decrease discomfort), stretching, soft tissue mobilization (passive movement of a body part against therapist’s pressure, pressure point release, active movement of a body part against therapist’s pressure), myofascial release, muscle energy, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) or any combination of these types of therapies. We use these techniques to improve mobility, function, muscle activation and to decrease pain, discomfort, weakness and recovery time. The term soft tissue therapy is synonymous with manual therapy.
As defined by the APTA and AAOMPT, manual therapy is a clinical approach utilizing skilled hands-on techniques, including but not limited to manipulation/mobilization to assess and treat soft tissues and joint structures for the purpose of controlling pain, increasing range of motion (ROM), reducing or eliminating soft tissue inflammation, inducing relaxation, improving contractile and non-contractile tissue repair, extensibility, and stability, facilitating movement and improving function.
Most neuro-musculoskeletal disorders involving head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, hips, legs and feet can be treated. Sometimes manual therapy, mobility and strengthening exercises and an exercise program is all that is need to regain pain free function and full range of motion. Soft tissue therapy and joint mobilizations can improve these issues in a relatively short amount of time.