What is Manual Therapy?
What is manual therapy?
I get that question a lot. And my go to answer is always something to the effect of, it’s the perfect mix of what massage therapy and physical therapy have to offer. The whole session is hands on, like a massage. But most of the time there is little to no lotion being used and I will move you around, make your joints move and ask you to participate by pushing or pulling against me…kind of like what is done in physical therapy.
I am a massage therapist by training but also learned early on as an athletic trainer in college how to do more advanced treatments. Then I focused my ongoing continuing education towards advancing that knowledge and gained an even better understanding in how all these techniques can be combined to create a very useful, specific type of treatment. That is how manual therapy got going.
There is a delicate balance in the body that ultimately starts at our structural system, our bones. The nerves that stretch throughout our body originate in the spinal cord and branch out from there, traveling all the way to the tips of our toes and fingers. Then our immense muscular and fascial system covers it all up.
Not in all cases but in most, there is a deep underlying structural component to pain. The joint is stuck in an improper position, which then aggravates the nearby nerve, sending a signal to the brain to activate the muscle in a protective spasm. With manual therapy we will work together to encourage mobility in the nonmoving areas, restoring motion where it’s needed and encouraging the muscles to relax or return to their proper function. This may take some time, and more often than not, some retraining through corrective exercise and homework.