6 Effective Hands-on Techniques in Physical Therapy


By Dr. Ravin Sodhi, D.C.

PUBLISHED ON March 13, 2024

Physical therapy sessions can involve everything from exercises on highly advanced machinery to hands-on massages where therapists manipulate specific connective tissues and joints. The most effective hands-on techniques in physical therapy play a vital role in patient recovery, helping improve flexibility and mobility in different areas. Below, our highly trained team from Active Physiotherapy Brampton discusses everything you need to know about effective manual therapy approaches. 

What is Manual Hands-On Therapy?

First, let’s cover the basics.

Therapeutic hands-on methods cover any form of physical therapy where the provider uses their hands rather than a device to treat your injury. Hands-on treatment strategies in physical therapy may include the following:

  • Targeted massages
  • Muscle stretching
  • Guided joint movements
  • And more

Ultimately, hands-on physical therapy can improve your flexibility and range of motion while reducing pain and relaxing various muscle groups. The practical physical therapy methods provide a more targeted approach, which can be quite beneficial for acute injuries. 

Effective Hands-On Physical Therapy Techniques

Here are some of the most effective hands-on techniques in physical therapy:

  • Soft-tissue massages: Gliding motions over connective tissues or muscles to relax tissues, reduce pain, and improve mobility
  • Joint manipulation: Shallow, repetitive thrust techniques to guide joints into their correct range of motion and improve mobility
  • Joint mobilization: Slow and repetitive guided joint movements through manual techniques to promote mobility
  • Straining and counterstaining: Techniques to locate and eliminate muscular spasm points by holding the body in a countering position for a measured period.
  • Friction massages: Aggressive massaging that promotes inflammation to reduce pain, improve healing, and break up scar tissue 
  • Passive stretching: Manual guided stretching to extend and lengthen muscle groups for improved flexibility and range of motion

Providers may implement these practical approaches for physical therapy interventions when working with numerous types of injuries. In many cases, your provider may combine more than one of the above hands-on techniques. 

When Therapists Might Use Manual Therapy Techniques

Manual therapy can be beneficial for many patients suffering from various acute or long-term concerns. For example, manual therapy techniques may help with:

  • Post-surgery recovery
  • Back and neck strains
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • And more

Whether you’re struggling to recover from an acute sports-related back injury or simply want to improve your flexibility as you regain your strength, manual therapy techniques can be a great help.  

Can You Try Manual Therapy at Home?

No, manual therapy techniques should not be tried at home. Physical therapists have ample training and experience in locating specific joints, nerve endings, tissue connections, and more, providing safe and effective manual therapy. PTs can use their outstanding knowledge of human anatomy to find pain points or areas of poor mobility to help you improve. 

If you are looking for the benefits of hands-on techniques in physical therapy, book an appointment with the best physiotherapy clinic in Brampton today at (289) 273-2716 and get answers to your questions from our team.

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