In conjunction with exercise, Manual Therapy (hands-on treatment, no machines) like joint manipulation and massage techniques can improve joint mobility, range of motion and flexibility and decrease pain and swelling.

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manual therapy on client

What is Manual Therapy?

It is any hands on (no machines) treatments that you will receive during your session with your Registered Physiotherapist or Registered Kinesiologist. This can include:

  • Mobilizing or manipulating joints
  • Massage techniques including:
    • Myofascial release
    • Friction
    • Trigger point release
  • Passive stretching (when the therapist assists the stretch)


The goal is to allow the body to move more freely. This can be achieved by attempting to decrease pain, allow more range of motion in the joints and lengthen shortened muscles.

It can be somewhat painful at the time it is applied, but it should start to feel better almost immediately with the result of improved bodily function and movement.

What are the benefits of manual therapy?

The potential benefits can vary greatly depending on the application and the rationale. If used in conjunction with exercise, the benefits can include:

  • Improving the nervous system (desensitizing the nervous system)
  • Decreased pain
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Increased muscle length
  • Increased flexibility and mobility
  • Increased strength
  • Decreased swelling

How long does it last?

The benefits should be virtually immediate. In addition to therapeutic exercise, the benefits should last as long as you keep up with your exercises. However, if you don’t address the root cause of the dysfunction that required therapy, the chances of the problem reoccurring is high.

For example, let’s say you frequently hold your phone between your ear and your shoulder and you develop a stiff neck as a result. Your therapist gives you some form of manual therapy and stretches to alleviate some pain and regain your range of motion. If you continue to hold your phone between your shoulder and ear, the problem will not go away no matter how much physiotherapy you do and how many stretches you apply!

Take the first step towards relieving pain and improving your physical well-being by booking an initial assessment for manual therapy – your path to a healthier, pain-free life starts here!

Can anyone get manual therapy?

During your physiotherapy treatment, you and your therapist will develop the best treatment plan to help you reach your goals. So it may be part of that plan. If you have questions about whether it can help you, please contact Westcoast SCI to book a no obligation 15 min video call to speak with one of our team of registered physiotherapists and kinesiologists.

What is the difference between manual therapy and physical therapy?

Manual therapy is one of the treatment options a Registered Physiotherapist may use during your session. It is considered part of the physiotherapy program.

Typically, your therapist will also include therapeutic exercise as well. Manual therapy is very effective if used as indicated and in combination with other forms of therapy including exercise. It allows you to keep any gains in function and movement that resulted from the manual therapy.

Massage therapy is also one way of applying manual therapy.