What is Manual Therapy and how can it help me?

A lot of patients mistakenly think physical therapy is just exercise programs and modality regimes for pain. Although both exercise and pain modalities are important pieces to a comprehensive physical therapy plan of care, manual therapy is proven to reduce recovery times, increase range of motion, and improve overall tissue mobility. Manual therapy is basically … Continue reading “What is Manual Therapy and how can it help me?”

A lot of patients mistakenly think physical therapy is just exercise programs and modality regimes for pain. Although both exercise and pain modalities are important pieces to a comprehensive physical therapy plan of care, manual therapy is proven to reduce recovery times, increase range of motion, and improve overall tissue mobility.

Manual therapy is basically different hands-on techniques that professionally trained physical therapist’s implement to relieve pain and restore mobility. Manual therapy includes different massage techniques and manipulating of soft tissue such as muscles, fascia, and connective tissues with the goal of increasing circulation, tissue mobility, reducing scar tissue, and relaxing  muscles, which ultimately can lead to reduced pain. Manual therapy can also include joint mobilization and manipulation, where the physical therapist uses specific, directed movements used to target joint restrictions and restore normal motion. These movements can loosen tight tissue around the targeted joints to improve flexibility, mobility, and pain. Manual therapy is typically used in conjunction with an individualized exercise program that will complement the gains made and restore function in the treated area.

Manual therapy is the foundational approach to any painful or stiff joint. There are no limitations on the joints that can be treated including your jaw (TMJ), spine, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, and ankle.

Techniques Used in Manual Therapy

  1. Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM) / Myofasical Release (MYR): While muscle tension is usually reduced when joint motion improves, the other surrounding tissues can still be affecting motion and causing pain. Soft tissue mobilization addresses muscle tension by moving tissue fluids, reducing tension, and breaking up fibrous or inelastic tissue such as scar tissue (also known as “myofascial adhesions”), through repetitive stretching and pressure.
  2. Strain-Counterstrain: With this technique, the physical therapist will place the target area in a position where the least pain is experienced for a couple minutes, while applying mild stretching. The patient is slowly brought out of the position, allowing the body to restore the muscles to their normal tension. This technique is suitable for those who are suffering from acute pain given the placement in an area of least amount of pain.
  3. Muscle Energy Techniques (METs): Muscle energy techniques are used to lengthen shortened muscles and move restricted joints. Unlike other manual therapy techniques, METs are an active technique, meaning the patient participates in the movement. The patient contracts their muscles for several seconds against a counterforce precisely applied by the physical therapist. This is repeated as the joint’s range of motion increases, but does not stress the joint.
  4. Joint Mobilization:  Joint mobilization is needed to increase range of motion and improve overall joint mechanics by slowly and painlessly moving the joint in ways that the patient is unable themselves thereby achieving decreased muscle tension and pain.
  5. High Velocity, Low Amplitude Thrusting: This procedure is the most effective at restoring joints that are restricted in movements in one direction. It involves taking the joint to the end of its range of motion, and providing a quick thrust in the same direction just beyond a joint’s range of motion. It is more aggressive than joint mobilizations, but does not move the joint beyond its anatomical limit.

Does Manual Therapy Hurt?

Manual therapy does not always hurt, however there is often some discomfort inherent in the process since the physical therapist is actively manipulating a painful or tight area. Before beginning manual therapy, physical therapist’s will have a consultation with the patient to understand their unique condition and baseline their current range of motion, strength and flexibility. Physical therapists will modify the amount of force they are using depending on the injury and if the pain is chronic, acute, or post-surgical. After treatment, patients may experience some soreness for a day or two, but usually report an immediate increase in range of motion and reduced pain levels.

4 Workstation Ergonomic Tips You Can Try Today

    You’ve probably heard of ergonomics – the study of efficiency and comfort in the workplace – but are you taking the right actions to make your workstation or home office as easy on your body as possible? If you work in an office environment, you can prevent pain and injury and work more … Continue reading “4 Workstation Ergonomic Tips You Can Try Today”

 

 

You’ve probably heard of ergonomics – the study of efficiency and comfort in the workplace – but are you taking the right actions to make your workstation or home office as easy on your body as possible? If you work in an office environment, you can prevent pain and injury and work more effectively when you carefully consider every aspect of your work situation, including these:

1. Your chair.

Start with a good chair that includes lumbar support, then sit with your hips as far back in the chair as possible. If the back angle is adjustable, aim for 100 to 110 degrees, ensuring that you have support for your upper back as well as your lower back. Inflatable cushions or pillows can help. Move arm rests down so that your shoulders are relaxed rather than supporting the weight of your upper body. If the armrests don’t adjust, consider removing them.

2. Your keyboard and mouse.

For the greatest comfort and to keep from straining muscles over time, place your keyboard directly in front of you, and make sure both your keyboard and mouse are close to your body so that reaching isn’t necessary. Adjust the height of your keyboard so that your elbows bend to about 100 to 110 degrees and definitely not less than 90 degrees. If you sit properly, you may find it comfortable to adjust your keyboard to tilt slightly away from you. A palm support can help maintain a health wrist position as long as it isn’t taller than the space bar. You may even want to consider a special split keyboard if it’s more comfortable for you.

3. Your monitor.

Your monitor should also be centered in front of you. But the viewable area should be located 2 to 3 inches above your seated eye level – much higher than most people place it. (Lower it a bit if you wear bifocals – or consider getting computer reading glasses.) Make sure the monitor is at least arm’s length away and out of any glare from windows or overhead lights. Use glare filters and task lights as necessary, and make sure your landline phone and documents are within arm’s length and easy to reach without straining.

4. Your work schedule.

Breaks are essential to good blood flow. No matter how carefully you design your workstation, staying in any one place too long will take a toll. You need to stretch every 20 to 30 minutes for at least a minute. If possible, do something other than your usual work for 5 to 10 minutes per hour. Try to get away from your desk at lunch and look around to rest and refocus your eyes. Take every opportunity possible to stand, move around, look in the distance and stretch. Cover your eyes with your hands periodically to allow your eyes to relax and your body to rest. It all makes a difference.

Whether you have pain or stiffness that has just started or troubling you for months from too much sitting, typing, or other close work, physical therapy can help.  If you need suggestions on setting up your work station at the office or at home, physical therapy has solutions for you.

We’re here when you need us at Innovative Physical Therapy!