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  • Writer's pictureRachel Richers

Treatment techniques in general

In physical therapy, we use a variety of techniques to elicit healing. These include:

  • Massage to help loosen muscles, bring blood supply, inhibit (turn off overactive) muscles that are bound up too tight, provide relaxation. Touch can be a powerful component of healing and I often feel that I cannot understand what is going on with someone's body without touching the tissues

  • Stretching to elongate muscles - not all tight muscles need to be lengthened, but as we get older, the need to stretch our muscles becomes even greater.

When we combine massage and stretching, we can help your body gain mobility - or - the ability to move a joint through a larger range of motion which helps provide nutrients to joints and helps to decrease pain.

  • Ultrasound to shake up tissue and bring heat blood and healing materials to the hurt area

  • Electrical stimulation to either teach muscles how to contract, or to help put a road closed sign on nerves that are sending pain signals to the brain (similar to TENS).

  • Movement - simply moving your body at joints through their largest range of motions correctly. Often times we learn ways to compensate (or alter) the normal pattern of movement in order to decrease pain, or use muscles that are stronger. Compensations will often work for a long time, but place the body into more vulnerable positions causing unnecessary wear and tear. Teaching movement in how the body is supposed to move can help decrease pain by eliminating compensations that hurt more than help.

  • Exercise for Strength - not push ups or sit ups, but specific movements that use specific muscles that may be underactive, uncoordinated, or just lazy because other muscles (compensations) have taken over their role and work load.

  • Exercises for Stability - these are the least "sexy" of all of the activities we generally do because, they are boring! However, they are so very important. Our stability muscles are like the quarterback on the football team - not the biggest player on the field, but one that is pivotal in keeping the ball moving down the field. A football team with only line backers is like a body driven only by the big beefy muscles that control compensations - it might be a powerful strong team of brute force, but it will probably never make the playoffs. Stability is the balance for our system, and stability is required for good posture, balance, walking, running, lifting, pushing, pulling, and all other "ings" that come with living everyday life.

I've missed some things, but covered the basics, and this post is getting too long as it is. Tell me if you can think of anything I missed, questions regarding the information given, or for examples of what an activity might look like in the clinical setting.

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