What’s The Difference?
At first glance it is easy to mistake manual therapy for a massage. However, there are significant differences between these two treatment methods.
A massage is the use of rhythmically applied pressure to the skin and soft tissues of the body. Massage is used to reduce tension, anxiety, stress, and promote overall circulation, relaxation, and flexibility.
Manual therapy is the application of hands-on techniques to body tissues with intent to therapeutically asses and treat. Through proper assessment of the involved body structures, a physical therapist can utilize manual therapy techniques to enhance the healing process and correct positional faults of the irritated tissues. Some manual therapy techniques utilized by physical therapist include soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release, strain-counter strain, muscle energy techniques, joint mobilizations and manipulations, and mobilization with movement. Manual therapy can be utilized to assess dysfunction, increase joint range of motion, decrease pain, and improve healing.
Both massage and manual therapy can be utilized as part of a plan to promote an individual’s overall health and wellness. However, the education and skill level needed to practice manual therapy is much more comprehensive. Physical Therapists are highly educated health care providers that receive extensive instruction on the use of manual therapy techniques to both evaluate and treat patients.