What is Manual/Manipulative Physiotherapy?
Manual therapy basically means ‘hands-on’ physiotherapy treatment and as a term can be used to describe a broad range of treatments including but not limited to joint manipulation, joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, and muscle energy techniques. Using a hands-on technique, we can help reduce tightness, improve movement in joints, reduce pain, and improve function.
Many problems requiring physiotherapy involve some restriction of movement. The basic premise of manual therapy is to make something that doesn’t move enough move more, i.e. to ‘loosen it up’. This can either be a joint or soft tissue.
The human body is an amazingly adaptable piece of machinery. Restriction of movement in one region of the body, e.g. due to joint stiffness or soft tissue tightness, can often be compensated for by the development of extra (but excessive) movement in an adjacent region. Unfortunately this excessive movement often leads to overstrain / overload of tissues and pain.
This is especially evident in the spine where due to the large number of joints between adjacent vertebrae there is tremendous scope for the development of these harmful compensatory movements.
Manual therapy techniques can ‘free up’ these restrictions, thereby lessening the body’s need to use these harmful compensatory movements as a body region can move as it was originally intended to.