Physical therapy (PT) exercises and manual therapy are two important components of physical therapy. PT exercises are exercises that are designed to improve your range of motion, strength, flexibility, and balance. Manual therapy is a type of physical therapy that uses hands-on techniques to improve your range of motion and reduce pain.
Physical therapy exercises
PT exercises can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Neurological disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pulmonary diseases
- Sports injuries
- Pre and post-surgical rehabilitation
Some examples of PT exercises include:
- Range of motion exercises: These exercises help to improve the range of motion in your joints. For example, a range of motion exercise for the shoulder might involve raising your arm overhead and then moving it in a circular motion.
- Strengthening exercises: These exercises help to strengthen your muscles. For example, a strengthening exercise for the thigh muscles might involve squatting up and down.
- Flexibility exercises: These exercises help to improve the flexibility of your muscles and tendons. For example, a flexibility exercise for the hamstring muscles might involve bending forward at the waist and reaching your toes.
- Balance exercises: These exercises help to improve your balance and coordination. For example, a balance exercise might involve standing on one leg or walking on a balance beam.
Manual therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Muscle tension
- Joint stiffness
- Limited range of motion
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Some examples of manual therapy techniques include:
- Joint mobilization: This technique involves gently moving a joint through its range of motion. This can help to loosen stiff joints and improve range of motion.
- Joint manipulation: This technique involves applying a sudden, controlled thrust to a joint. This can help to improve range of motion and reduce pain.
- Soft tissue massage: This technique involves massaging the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. This can help to reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.
- Myofascial release: This technique involves applying pressure to the fascia, which is a connective tissue that covers the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. This can help to release tension in the fascia and improve range of motion.
- Trigger point therapy: This technique involves applying pressure to trigger points, which are small, tender areas in the muscles. This can help to reduce pain and muscle tension.
- Dry needling: This technique involves inserting a thin needle into the muscles. This can help to reduce muscle tension and pain.
How physical therapy exercises and manual therapy work together
Physical therapy exercises and manual therapy often work together to provide a comprehensive treatment plan. For example, a physical therapist may use manual therapy to loosen tight muscles and then prescribe exercises to strengthen those muscles.
Benefits of physical therapy exercises and manual therapy
Physical therapy exercises and manual therapy can offer a number of benefits, including:
- Reducing pain and inflammation
- Improving range of motion
- Strengthening muscles
- Improving flexibility
- Improving balance and coordination
- Reducing muscle tension
- Improving circulation
- Promoting relaxation
- Speeding up recovery from injuries and surgery
If you are considering physical therapy or manual therapy, talk to your doctor to see if it is right for you.