Manual therapy is a group of techniques using the hands as opposed to a device or a machine. In manual therapy, practitioners use their hands not only to assess for specific conditions, but also to produce a variety of treatment effects including: improving flexibility, increasing range of motion of joints, decrease muscle spasms or tension, induce relaxation, change muscle function, decrease pain, and reduce swelling and inflammation.


There are several different manual therapy techniques available and each type of technique is aimed at specific treatment goals. Some of the many techniques employed at Element Physical Therapy include:

Soft Tissue Techniques:

These techniques include swedish massage, deep tissue massage, cross friction massage, trigger point release, and myofascial release. These treatments are one of the most commonly known forms of manual therapy and they generally are used to help reduce pain and improve muscle function.

Mobilization With Movement:

This technique is used to help move joints and reduce pain. In this form of treatment, the patient helps to provide the treatment by performing specific movements while the therapist provides resistance or mobilizes joints at the same time.

Muscle Energy Techniques:

These techniques are used to improve mobility of stiff joints or lengthen shortened muscles and use the patient’s own muscle contraction to get the desired effect. During these treatments the patient is instructed to contract specific muscles while the therapist provides resistance.


This treatment is used when reflexes in the body are not responding in a typical fashion causing postural problems and pain. This treatment uses several stretching positions to help reset the reflexes, and therefore correct the postural problems and reduce the pain.

Joint Mobilization & Manipulation:

This is a group of techniques that uses passive motion of the affected joint(s) to achieve relaxation, decrease pain, and improve motion in the joint

Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques:

These techniques utilize small hand-held tools to assist in the movement of tissues such as muscle and fascia. All therapists at Element Physical Therapy utilize some form of assisted soft tissue mobilization, and Amy Downing, PT is a certified provider of ASTYM®, a very specialized assisted soft tissue mobilization technique. These techniques are used to break up scar tissue and assist these tissues so that they can easily glide upon one another.