Manual therapy is any hands-on treatment your physical therapist uses to help you regain motion, improve muscle performance, or simply reduce pain. You may hear manual therapy referred to as massage, joint mobilization, manipulation, stretching, or passive range of motion—and all of these may be a part of your treatment plan. 

Manual therapy improves functional outcomes and helps you get back to 100%—our physical therapists here at Athens Physical Therapy are skilled and have advanced certifications in hands-on techniques that will get you back to what you love, faster. 

Here are some examples of manual therapy that you may encounter as a patient: 

  • You’ve had a total knee replacement. You head into your physical therapy appointment where your physical therapist stretches your knee to bend and straighten so that you regain full range of motion. 
  • Your back has been bothering you—every time you bend over to pick something up or you twist in your chair, you get a sharp pain in the muscles of your low back. Your physical therapist uses a combination of massage and mobilization to the spine to help your muscles relax and reduce your pain before or after exercise. 
  • You woke up with a stiff neck, which is making turning your head to check your blind spot very difficult. Your physical therapist performs a manipulation to your cervical spine (neck) and your upper back, and you walk out feeling much better with regained movement. 
  • You just had a baby 3 months ago and your hips are feeling “off.” Your therapist performs a muscle energy technique to help decrease your pain and help you feel more aligned.

Manual therapy is frequently used in combination with exercise and other activities to treat a variety of conditions including: 

  • Back pain 
  • Sciatica
  • Neck pain 
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Knee pain
  • Post-surgical tightness 

Manual therapy is particularly beneficial for the following: 

  • Calming high pain levels
  • Improving range of motion in stiff or arthritic joints
  • Reducing feelings of tightness
  • Improving muscle performance or activation

Physical therapists who use manual techniques will make sure you are comfortable with any technique they choose to use. They may ask that you wear clothing that exposes the skin of the affected area, and they will set expectations about what the technique will feel like. Some techniques, such as massage or mobilization, may feel uncomfortable while they are being performed, but improve with repetition or feel better afterwards. Don’t be afraid to provide your therapist with feedback! 

Stiff and painful joints? Recovering from a back strain? Whatever the injury may be, our skilled manual therapists will provide you with the perfect balance of hands-on treatment and exercise to get you moving and back to life. Schedule an appointment today!