Manual Therapy Techniques: 4 Important Questions About Their Role in Sports Medicine

Manual Therapy Techniques: 4 Important Questions About Their Role in Sports Medicine

Jun 24th 2024

Manual therapy techniques are often the simplest and also most effective ways to treat sports-related injuries. Given the risks associated with prescription pain medications, many athletes would rather avoid any type of chemical dependence and opt for natural pain relief and rehabilitation instead.

Medical professionals use manual or hands-on therapy techniques to alleviate pain after an injury, increase mobility, and contribute to better overall health. Most of these techniques involve stretching, joint mobilization, and soft tissue manipulation.

Even though some of these techniques may look simple, they are best left to skilled physical therapists and other providers who have the right training and equipment to perform them.

1. What Injuries Can Be Helped by Manual Therapy?

Physical therapist and patient

An injury does not have to occur on the tennis court, the track, or the football field in order to be treated with manual therapy; these techniques can be used to treat patients after accidents, falls, and a number of other causes. It just so happens that manual therapy techniques are often linked to sports medicine because of certain injuries that are common among athletes.

Physical therapists and trainers use manual therapy techniques for patients with:

  • Tendonitis
  • Herniated discs
  • Sprains and strains
  • Joint dislocations
  • Soft tissue injuries

The targeted manipulation of specific joints and muscles can alleviate pain and also promote healing. Manual therapy can mean a quicker recovery for athletes than rest alone.

2. Will I Need Special Equipment for Manual Therapy?

A table or chair is needed, at minimum, for a provider who employs manual therapy techniques. Specialty massage and chiropractic tables come in a wide range of styles and price points, and some practices may be fine with a no-frills standard massage table, while others may want a specialty chiropractic table with more features and adjustments.

Special wedge and bolster pillows are often used in positioning and manipulating the patient's body for techniques, and these are inexpensive tools (along with exercise balls) that can go a long way toward rehabilitation and recovery from sports injuries.

Resistance bands are another commonly used piece of equipment in manual therapy techniques. They are especially helpful in rebuilding strength after an injury.

3. Does Manual Therapy Improve Athletic Performance?

Manual therapy techniques can have a huge impact on athletic performance. They aid in recovery, help athletes rebuild strength and mobility, and can also help prevent future or repeat injuries.

Once pain is alleviated, thanks to manual therapy techniques, an athlete's range of motion is generally restored or even improved, giving them the opportunity to perform their normal activities without hindrance.

Manual therapy techniques performed by trained therapists will help to reduce inflammation in the body and accelerate tissue repair; these techniques help the body heal and get back to its best state, which in turn means the athlete's performance is optimized. Stretching therapy also increases flexibility, which is especially important in preventing sports-related injuries.

4. How Long Will Rehabilitation Take With Manual Therapy?

Unfortunately, there is no specific timeframe for recovery with manual therapy, and therapists do not necessarily have a crystal ball to tell an athlete exactly when she will be cleared to return to the court, the track, or the field.

However, a trained therapist will be able to offer some general guidelines about expected recovery times and will also reiterate to a patient that consistency is key with manual therapy. Rest is also a crucial component of recovery, so the therapy techniques should be coupled with plenty of rest, hydration, and a healthy diet.

Spa Source for Manual Therapy Tables

At Spa Source we take pride in our trusted partnerships with a wide variety of medical, chiropractic, and physical therapy practices who are passionate about health and wellness services. We offer some of the best massage and chiropractic tables, and our team would love to answer any questions about your specific equipment needs.

Contact us today to find out how we can help your practice with your manual therapy needs.