Three hands-on physical therapy methods that can help reduce stiffness

Hands-On Physical Therapy

Getting up from your chair to grab a snack. Walking behind the lawnmower. Playing with your kids or grandkids. Being stiff can make each of these normal daily activities much harder to do. 

Stiffness is one of the most common symptoms people experience. It can affect both joints and muscles, and it’s linked to common medical issues like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Physical therapy specialists have a variety of techniques at their disposal that can help you reduce stiffness; one category of therapy methods that they can use for this purpose is hands-on physical therapy.

These three hands-on physical therapy methods can help reduce stiffness

Hands-on physical therapy is a category that includes many therapy methods, and physical therapists refer to this category as manual therapy, because they use their hands to manually move or mobilize joints or soft tissue in each method included in this category. 

So, how do physical therapists know that manual therapy methods help reduce stiffness? They measure your range of motion (ROM). When your range of motion improves, it indicates that your joints and muscles aren’t as stiff. There are three manual therapy methods that can help increase range of motion: 

  1. Joint mobilization — Physical therapists use this therapy technique to address joint stiffness and pain. It involves your physical therapist using their hands to move the joint through its normal ROM. This technique is very effective for people with a shoulder stiffness condition called frozen shoulder. One study reports that joint mobilization helped frozen shoulder patients increase their shoulder ROM by almost 27 degrees on average. 
  1. Soft tissue mobilization — This manual therapy method is used to mobilize muscles, fascia and other soft tissue. Soft tissue mobilization (STM) can also help increase shoulder ROM. A study on shoulder impingement patients reveals that STM improved shoulder external rotation by almost 16 degrees.
  1. Muscle energy techniques — Joints and soft tissue can be mobilized using muscle energy techniques (METs). This type of manual therapy involves you being asked to stretch the affected area in a specific way. As you do so, your physical therapist will apply a precise amount of pressure to increase the stretch. One study on patients with elbow stiffness after surgery shows METs helped:
  • Increase elbow flexion by 11.7 points
  • Improve elbow extension by 8.6 points 

Border Therapy Services offers hands-on physical therapy to reduce stiffness

Ready to get hands-on physical therapy to decrease your stiffness? Our therapy specialists at Border Therapy Services can help. We’ll start by evaluating the affected area to determine how stiff it is. Then, our physical therapists will build you a personalized therapy plan designed to decrease stiffness, and this plan can include manual therapy methods and techniques like: 

Contact our team today for more information about how we can help treat your stiffness or to schedule your initial appointment.