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How We Treat

Manual Therapy


Manual therapy is a skilled hands-on treatment technique used by physical therapists to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction from injury/overuse, immobilization, disease, and the aging process. Hands-on techniques can increase range of motion, treat joint structures, reduce pain, relax tissue, reduce inflammation/swelling, and enhance healing. There are many different styles of manual therapy used by physical therapists.

Sports Massage

Sports massage helps to alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body during and after physically intense activity. Massage can quickly and effectively resolve  minor aches and pain called "niggles" caused by overexertion and/or overuse from becoming full-blown injuries.  Sports massage is often focused and systematic, targeting muscles that are used in a specific sport. For example, a runner has different needs than a baseball player. It uses various techniques to decrease muscle pain and improve recovery, as well as improve overall range of motion and flexibility. Some individuals prefer pre-event massage while other prefer post-event work. Massage can also help to decrease delayed onset muscle soreness. 

Medical Massage

A medical massage can work on a number of medical issues that are chronic in nature such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, low back pain, tendonitis, or an area recovering from a previous injury.  Acute condtions can also benefit from massage to decrease pain and restore function ina quicker time frame. It is important to communicate with your physical therapist your pain location(s) and behaviors as this can help to direct treatment techniques and improve outcomes. Often pain can radiate or travel to a different location and your therapist may need to address another site other than where you are feeling the pain. Medical massage tends to be deeper in pressure than a relaxation massage and tenderness is common. Your therapist may also recommend gentle stretching exercises after your massage to maintain its benefits.

IASTM or (Instrumental Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization)

Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a popular treatment for myofascial restriction, tendonits, scar tissue and muscle tightness. IASTM uses specially designed instruments to provide a mobilizing effect to tissue and myofascial adhesions. Several IASTM tools and techniques are available such as the Astym or Graston. Many techniques require advanced certification.  Several studies have shown IASTM can improve soft tissue function and ROM in acute or chronic sports injuries while also reducing pain. 

The instruments can be made of stainless steel or plastic with beveled edges and contours that can conform to different body anatomical locations and allows for deeper penetration. It can also be used for the detection and treatment of soft tissue disorders.  The instruments help tp effectively break down the underlaying soft tissue restrictions and scar tissue. This process leads initiates controlled microtrauma to affected area and causes the stimulation of local inflammatory response.  This microtrauma initiates reabsorption of inappropriate fibrosis or excessive scar tissue and facilitates a cascade of healing activities resulting in remodeling of tissue. Combined with targeted stretching and strengthening, IASTM is an excellent treatment option for those with musculoskeletal conditions or injury.  

Manual Therapy Techniques

Soft tissue mobilization is used to break up fibrous muscle tissue/adhesions and is often applied to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and scars. This method of manual therapy uses light to deep pressure with rhythmic stretching. The physical therapist localizes techniques to the area of the greatest tissue restriction and works the tissue surrounding that area. The therapist may use specific tools to enhance the process. 

Muscle Energy Techniques (METs) are procedures used to lengthen shortened muscles, mobilize restricted joints and mechanical faults. The patient actively contracts uses his/her muscles against a controlled counterforce applied by the physical therapist from in a specific direction. After the muscle contraction, the joint is taken to its new range of motion. 

Joint Mobilization/Manipulation which uses measured movements of varying speed (slow to fast), force (gentle to forceful), and distances (called 'amplitude') to twist, pull, or push bones and joints into position. This can help loosen tight tissues around a joint, reduce pain in a joint, and surrounding soft tissue, and help with flexibility, posture, and alignment.

Myofascial Release is a focused elongation technique that engages tight and restricted tissues through superficial and deep pressure to help restore muscle balance.

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