Manual therapy vs. massage therapy: Three key differences

Manual Therapy Vs. Massage Therapy

It’s likely that Holland, Michigan, residents have heard about both massage therapy and manual therapy. However, some people may not realize that these two terms are not referring to the same type of treatment. There are three key ways manual therapy is different from massage therapy. 

1.   Used for assessment

Massage therapy is typically used to treat tight muscles, but it isn’t typically used to find out if the muscle tension is related to other physical issues. On the other hand, manual therapy is often used to help physical therapists both assess and treat muscle and joint problems. For example, the therapist can use their hands to check for tense muscles around your sore knee. If there are tense muscles, various types of manual therapy can then be used to treat them. 

2.   Helps increase joint movement

Both manual therapy and massage therapy are designed to help mobilize, or reduce tension in, soft tissue. However, manual therapy is also used to help in other ways. Joint mobilization movements are a type of manual therapy, and these movements are intended to give people a greater ability to move arthritic or injured joints. Another type of manual therapy known as muscle energy techniques can also help reduce joint movement restrictions.

3.   Can improve neuromuscular reflexes

Reflexes are the automatic response your muscles make to certain outside stimuli. Think about the way the leg moves when a doctor hits your knee with that triangular rubber mallet. This type of movement is called a neuromuscular reflex. 

An abnormal reflex would be if your leg doesn’t move at all when the knee is struck during a reflex test. Using a manual therapy called strain-counterstrain, physical therapists can help people deal with muscle issues that may be causing abnormal reflexes. 

Find out how manual therapy from Holland Physical Therapy can help you

Now that you know a few of the differences between manual therapy and massage therapy, you may be wondering where you can find manual therapy in Holland. Our team at Holland Physical Therapy is ready to help people with effective manual therapy, and we frequently use this treatment in personalized therapy plans for issues like: 

Are you ready to get help from Holland Physical Therapy? Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.