Manual therapy is described as a “broad group of passive interventions in which physical therapist use their hands to administer skilled movements designed to modulate pain; increase joint range of motion; reduce or eliminate soft tissue swelling, inflammation, or restrictions; induce relaxation, improve contractile and not contractile tissue extensibility; and improve pulmonary function”. 1
Balance Solutions therapists have been trained in many types of manual therapy techniques to effectively treat patients with various types of conditions. Manual therapy is used in conjunction with therapeutic and neuromuscular re-education exercises to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients. Manual therapy techniques can be simply used to increase flexibility or joint mobility in the ankle or hip, allowing for improved balance and gait mechanics, or may be used to decrease pain and muscle spasm after an acute injury. Effective manual therapy intervention is used to speed up the heeling process and promote proper mechanics throughout the body.
Types of manual therapy techniques utilized by Balance Solutions Therapists include:
Soft Tissue Mobilization
Soft tissue mobilization is a safe and effective way to loosen and prepare muscles and fascia for other treatments, and is effective used alone to increase circulation, decrease pain & muscle spasm, and increase flexibility. There are many different techniques used for soft tissue mobilization; from parallel stroking (moving along the length of the muscle), cross-friction massage (going across the muscle fibers), Rolfing (working deep into the tissue, active release (trigger points), functional mobilization (pushing into a restriction as the patient uses the muscle), and several others.
Deep Transverse Friction Massage
Deep transverse friction massage is a non-surgical method of treatment used for soft tissue lesions and scar tissue formation. Deep friction is applied perpendicularly to the soft tissue fibers which make up the muscles, ligaments, and/or joint capsules. This type of manual therapy technique is often used for different types of tendonitis, post-surgical scar formation, and old injuries where scar tissue has formed.
Myofascial Release (MFR) is a gentle, safe and exceptionally valuable hands-on technique that involves the application of gentle sustained pressure into restrictions of myofascial connective tissue. MFR is used to increase blood flow, eliminate pain, and restore motion. MFR is a whole body, hands on approach used to help restore the bodies equilibrium. MFR can be used effectively for any type of condition that has resulted in mobility restrictions.
Muscle energy techniques use the bodies own neuromuscular & physiological properties to restore symmetry and normal mobility to joints. Muscle energy techniques are a gentle pain-free technique used to; relax spastic muscles, strengthen weak muscles, mobilize restricted joints, decreases edema, as well as stretch muscles, ligaments, joint capsules and fascia. Muscle energy techniques are performed by the therapist locating a barrier to movement and having the patient perform a very specific and gentle muscle contraction.
Strain Counter Strain
Strain counter strain is a gentle method for reducing chronic and/or acute muscle spasm anywhere in the body. This technique uses concentric contractions (shortening of the muscle) only to return a shortened muscle to its normal length. Strain counter strain can be used to decreases muscle spasm and help restore muscle to its resting tone for pain free function and can be used on acute or chronic muscle spasms.
Mobilization with Movement
Mobilization with movement techniques use passive joint mobilization performed by the therapist with active movement performed by the patient. Mobilization with movement is a pain-free technique that can return comfortable mobility to a joint resulting in immediate pain relief and increased range of motion.
The McKenzie method is a comprehensive approach to treatment of the spine. The McKenzie Method leads to classification of spinal-related disorders and is based on a “cause and effect” relationship between pain behavior as well as the pain response to repeated test movements, positions and activities during the assessment process. McKenzie mobilization techniques are performed by applying over-pressure to a spinal segment as a patient performs a specific movement, or by applying gentle oscillatory movements.
Manipulative Therapies (Joint Mobilizations)
Manipulative therapy is performed by the application of passive (performed by the therapist) oscillatory movements to the spine and joints to help treat pain and stiffness of a mechanical nature. Manipulative therapy is a type of manual therapy used to improve mobility and stretch the capsule surrounding a joint. There are many manipulative therapy techniques used to safely and comfortably mobilize a joint, thus improving mobility and decreasing pain.
1 Guide to physical therapy practice 1998.