What are the different types of manual therapy?

What are the different types of manual therapy?

October 6, 2023

What are the different types of manual therapy?

PT 360° Sports Medicine & Spine Therapy

What Are the Different Types of Manual Therapy?

Manual therapy is an umbrella term for several hands-on techniques used to relieve pain, stiffness and increase range of motion in various body regions.
These techniques utilize a combination of biomechanical, neurophysiological and psychological elements to reduce pain and enhance function. Essentially, they target the affected joint, muscle or connective tissue.


Mobilization is a type of manual therapy that encourages movement in injured areas. It may involve slow, deliberate motions to activate joints or gentle pressure to break up and relax tense muscle tissue.
Joint mobilization is a physiotherapist-provided hands-on treatment that can be beneficial for many conditions. Physiotherapists frequently employ it on patients suffering from stiff necks, spine pain, or shoulder discomfort.
It can also help treat hip, knee and ankle pain and stiffness. But it’s not for everyone so it is essential to consult your physical therapist to see if this option is suitable for you.
Joint mobilization technique seeks to replicate the glide that occurs between bones when they move together, increasing range of motion and relieving pain. It’s divided into five “grades,” each with its own amplitude of movement, and can be combined with other types of manual therapy for maximum benefit.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release therapy helps relieve pain by loosening tension in the fascia, or connective tissue that surrounds muscles and connects them to bones, blood vessels, nerves and other organs.
Myofascial release therapy (MRT) is often included in a massage therapy session, but can also be provided by chiropractors and other traditional medical practitioners. MRT involves hands-on stretching and massaging of the entire body, producing an incredible healing effect which eliminates pain and restores motion.
Myofascial release therapy has been studied and proven to increase skeletal muscle mobility and reduce pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood circulation, stimulating the stretch reflex, and breaking up adhesions in fascia. Studies have demonstrated its efficacy for treating various conditions like back pain, migraines and sports injuries.


Traction therapy is a manual form of manual therapy that utilizes devices to apply pressure on an area of the body. It’s commonly used to apply tension to dislocated bones or joints such as a dislocated shoulder, but can also keep muscles stretched to reduce muscle spasms.
Intermittent Traction/Relaxation with Cycles of Minutes
Continuous Traction can range from intermittent (alternating traction and relaxation with cycles of minutes), sustained (20-60 minutes), or continuous (maintained for hours to days). The primary force can be axial, such as with a superoinferior axis pull; distraction manipulation which uses combined axial forces combined with off-axis forces like flexion or lateral bending; or positional such as traction in the standing position.
The precise physiological and mechanobiologic effects of mechanical traction are still uncertain, and there is no conclusive evidence that different types of traction have any therapeutic benefit for lumbar spine pain. However, axial traction and distraction manipulation appear to produce clinical benefit among those suffering from cervical disc herniation (CLBP).


Massage is a type of bodywork that involves applying pressure to muscles and soft tissues. This helps relax muscles, boost circulation, and break up scar tissue.
A manual therapist may employ various massage techniques to target specific areas. These may include kneading, rolling, petrissage, tapping, vibration and percussion/tapotement.
Manual therapy is a type of hands-on treatment used by medical professionals such as massage therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists. This type of intervention can provide relief from various musculoskeletal issues like pain, stiffness and swelling.
Manipulating, or mobilizing, is a form of manual therapy that uses measured movements with varying speeds (slow to fast), force (gentle to strong) and distances to twist, pull or push bones and joints into position. These techniques can loosen tight tissues surrounding an joint, reduce pain in both the joint and surrounding tissue, improve flexibility and alignment overall.

If you’re interested in exploring manual therapy options for your specific needs, don’t hesitate to contact us at PT 360° Sports Medicine & Spine Therapy. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health and wellness through personalized care and treatment plans. Visit our home page to learn more about our services and how we can help you on your journey to better health.

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