Britt Smith, PT, DPT, LMT, CLT
Physical Therapist | Massage Therapist
Below is a detailed list of several treatment techniques and assessment tools that I utilize in daily practice in both Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy. Scroll over each photo to learn more about the name, style, purpose and goals of each specific technique and assessment.
Therapeutic Stretching is a maneuver designed to elongate shortened soft tissue structures and thereby increase flexibility. It involves placing body parts for short (seconds) or long (minutes) periods of time in a position of elongation of muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, neural fibers, and other soft tissues. This stretching is intended to keep the soft tissue supple and improve joint range of motion.
Therapeutic or Corrective Exercise is any exercise planned and performed to attain a specific physical benefit, such as maintenance of the range of motion, strengthening of weakened muscles, increased joint flexibility, or improved cardiovascular and respiratory function. Performing therapeutic exercises allows the patient or client to improve the ability to maintain treatment effects sustained during the preceding manual therapy session.
Joint Mobilization is an umbrella term describing a passive manual therapy intervention aimed at causing a therapeutic effect at synovial joints. Lower grade mobilizations do not engage joint capsule resistance and are used strictly for pain relief, whereas higher grades meet or surpass joint capsule resistance and are used to improve joint mobility.
High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA) Thrust Technique, or joint manipulations/adjustments, are quick and short end-range (Grade V) joint mobilizations aimed to restore joint play or a desirable gap between articulating surfaces. An audible pop or cavitation may occur, however is not necessary to obtain a positive treatment effect.
Manual Traction is a technique used to separate bones and joint articulations to create space and decompress soft tissues such as intervertebral discs, nerves, synovial joints. It is most commonly used in the cervical spine (neck), but can also be used for the lumbar spine (low back), sacroiliac (SI), hip, shoulder, knee and ankle joints, etc.
Trigger Points are hyperirritable adhesions and nodules within the abused myofascia that may refer pain elsewhere in the body, sometimes in predictable patterns. Trigger Points are also often associated with palpable taut bands of muscle. Manual Trigger Point Release uses manual ischemic compression, or sustained pressure that is meant to deliberately increase the blockage of blood to a Trigger Point so that when pressure is relieved, there is a resurgence of fresh oxygenated blood to the area.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a method of stretching muscles to maximize their flexibility utilizing a series of contractions and relaxations with manually passive stretching applied during the relaxation phase. The ultimate goal of PNF is to quickly enhance both active and passive range of motions, as well as optimize motor performance and rehabilitation.
A technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Pressure is applied directly on skin without oil or lotion so the therapist can accurately detect fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate release of the fascia.
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) uses stainless steel tools to break up abnormal tissue densities, and to reinitiate first-stage healing in muscle and connective tissue. Most effective when followed by therapeutic stretching and light strengthening exercises.
Involves inserting a thin filament needle using semi-standardized treatment protocols specific to each musculoskeletal diagnosis. It stimulates the healing process of soft tissues resulting in pain relief, normalization of biochemical and electrical dysfunction of motor endplates, and restoration of healthy physiology.
A definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. Provides extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting.
Transverse or Cross-Fiber Friction is a deep technique that applies short side-to-side as opposed to longitudinal strokes to the tissue involved. This specific pressure enhances circulation and return of fluids to target tissues to prevent scarred or fribrotic adhesions from forming, or to treat those that have already formed in ligaments, tendons, muscle fibers, and myofascia post injury.