What is manual therapy?

Manual therapy is a form of manipulative therapy. The object being manipulated is the human body. This is the physical treatment used by physiotherapists and chiropractors. Manual therapy is so named because it is done manually, or by hand. In this kind of treatment, muscles are manipulated on the surface by massage. A massage includes the kneading and the physical manipulation of the surface. However, this is not all that manual therapy entails. Joint manipulation and spine manipulation are also part of the therapy.

Where is manual therapy used?

Manual therapy comprises therapies that require physical manipulation of the skin or body. Some of the major areas that use it include the following.

  • Physiotherapy: Physical therapy is used to relieve pain.
  • Chiropractic care: Spine manipulation to ease pain and other diseases.
  • Osteopathy: Treating bone and physical diseases with manual therapy.
  • Massage therapy: Using massage and kneading to ease the pain.
  • Occupational therapy: For the recuperation from physical or mental illness or trauma.
  • Trainers in athletics and sports: Most professional sportsmen have their personal physical trainers at hand. These athletic trainers also assist in the event of an injury.

What kinds of manual therapy are there?

There are three main types of manual therapy. They can also be labelled as degrees of manual therapy techniques. The degrees relate to how deep the physical therapy is. This is explained in detail below.

  • Soft tissue therapy: The soft tissue of the body is exactly that. It is the ‘soft’ parts of the human body. Soft tissue consists of muscle, fat, body tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. Soft tissue therapy includes massage and kneading. This can be done either by hand or with an instrument. A technique included in this therapy is lymphatic drainage, for example. In this technique, gentle pressure is applied to the area of swelling. This allows for waste fluids to drain away.
  • Joint mobilization: This technique is used to ‘nudge’ a joint into a certain desired direction. The joint is positioned manually. Only practitioners very skilled with their hands should carry out this technique. The idea is to move a synovial joint to optimize movement. If the motion of any joint feels restricted, it should be mobilized.
  • Joint manipulation: Joint manipulation deals with passively moving a skeletal joint. This means that synovial tissue is moved manually. This affects skeletal joints in turn. A chiropractor makes use of joint manipulation. The technique uses high-speed thrusting maneuvers in order to move joints. The technique is carried out to ease back pain. It also helps with ease in movement and stability.
  • Massage: Massage is the most common and prevalent kind of manual therapy. Massage assists in putting pressure on injured areas. The rhythmic kneading involved helps with blood flow and pain relief. Friction massage is also a type that is sometimes used. This type mobilizes the adhesion between fascial layers.

How beneficial is manual therapy?

Manual therapy is very beneficial for the ease of pain. It is the first mode of treatment in physiotherapy. You must always go to a trained practitioner. Manual therapy needs immense skill and expertise. Before you visit a manual therapist, do your research. In the capable hands of an expert practitioner, you have nothing to fear. The treatment can help you in your daily dealings.

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