Manual therapy is the skilled use of our hands to assess, diagnose and treat – muscle, joint and nerve issues.
Our Burnaby Physiotherapists use manual therapy techniques used to treat muscles include methods such as:
1) Trigger point release and/or trigger point massage
Trigger point release can be an uncomfortable but effective way of getting rid of painful ‘knots’ in the body. Have you ever given yourself a massage and felt a painful lump on the muscle? That is likely a trigger point. If you sustain pressure on the trigger point it can cause pain somewhere else. As well, the affected muscle will feel stiff, tight, and weak.
Our Burnaby Physiotherapists use manual therapy techniques that help release these trigger points. This includes things like compression and trigger point massage. Compression is where the therapist sustains pressure on the trigger point to deprive the local area of oxygen. Trigger point massage is where the therapist uses soft tissue massage on and around the area of the trigger point to gently release the trigger point.
2) Active Release Techniques
This form of manual therapy is useful in removing adhesions and fibrotic tissue that have formed on the muscle from injuries and/ or overuse. When the body gets injured or muscles get overused, the body tries to heal itself by putting down new tissue to ‘patch up’ the injured area very much like how a scab would form after a cut.
The new tissue that is laid down may end up causing different layers of tissue to stick together. This causes unwanted pulling of other structures such as vessels and nerves when moving a muscle. This can cause referred pain and tension in not only the affected muscle, but in its surrounding tissues as well.
With active release, the therapist will place different types of pressure and compression on the tissue while instructing the client to move the muscle and joint in specific directions to help break down the adhesions.
This form of manual therapy can help restore muscles back to its normal length, release any trapped or stuck tissues within its layers, and allow free movement of all connective tissues.
3) Manual Stretching
Manual stretching is where the therapist uses their hands to help you stretch out tight musculature. Having an external force to stretch the muscle allows the client to get deeper into a stretch. This manual therapy method is especially helpful if it is hard for the client to sustain certain positions due to restrictions in motion, or lack of strength.
4) Muscle Energy Techniques
Muscle energy techniques or MET’s for short is a useful form of manual therapy that helps loosen and relax tight muscles and tendons. There are different methods of muscle energy techniques, and they all involve a sequence of contracting the muscle against a resistance, then stretching.
A common form of MET is the PNF technique. To perform this manual therapy technique, you bring a tight muscle to a comfortable stretch just before the point of pain. Then you contract the same muscle you are stretching at a 10-20% effort for 5-10 seconds, and finally, you relax and push the stretch slightly further. This cycle is repeated 2-3 times. If done correctly, this manual therapy method is very effective and you will see an immediate loosening and lengthening of the tight muscle.
5) Deep Frictions
This manual therapy technique is often applied by our Burnaby Physiotherapists to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Deep frictions or transverse frictions is generally used to prevent adhesions from forming after an injury, to help regenerate proper alignment of tissues when they are healing, and to provide temporary pain relief. This technique can be slightly painful and uncomfortable.
5) Joint Mobilizations
Joint mobilizations is a common manual therapy method widely used by our Burnaby Physiotherapists. We use joint mobilizations to help improve the movement of a specific joint. When a joint is stiff, you would not be able to have full motion at a joint, or you would end up hypermobile at a different joint to make up for the loss of motion. A common example of this is the simple movement of bending over to touch your toes. If you lack lower back forward bending (flexion) motion, you would end up bending more at the hip to reach your toes.
If a joint is stiff or not able to move in its normal ranges, a physiotherapist will be able to feel the restriction and help move the joint to regain its full range.