Manual therapy is the umbrella term used to describe manual treatment techniques applied to the soft tissues and joints of the musculoskeletal system. Manual therapy includes soft tissue massage (such as Swedish Remedial Massage or trigger point compression), joint mobilisations (such as Maitland’s low velocity joint movements) and joint manipulations (high velocity thrust techniques).
Manual therapy may also include active techniques, meaning that the patient applies their own force to assist with the mobilisation technique, such as Muscle Energy Techniques or Mulligan’s Mobilisations with Movement.
Research has shown that manual therapy can provide significant short to medium term improvements in pain, movement and function and has a much better effect overall, when combined with exercise therapy. This means that, for example, for low back pain, manual therapy will significantly help reduce pain and regain movement and facilitate a patient making more permanent progress with prescribed exercise.