If you have hurt a shoulder or knee, your doctor might refer you to a physical therapist to do manual therapy. You might not have ever heard of this kind of therapy or know what to expect at your first appointment. Here is some information that will help you learn more about this practice.

What is Manual Therapy, and How Does it Differ From Massage?

Manual therapy is fundamentally the manipulation of different parts of your body by a therapist. When you first hear about it, you might think that it sounds a lot like massage therapy. However, they have different aims. While massage therapy is generally done to relax the body, manual therapy is done to effect change on the body and to correct any functional problems so that the body can heal. Massage can be excellent for circulation, stress and overall wellness, but for an injury, manual therapy is superior. Manual therapy can do the following:

  • increase mobility
  • decrease pain
  • encourage healing

Manual therapy is done by physical therapists, who are trained in a standardized fashion. They are typically required to hold a degree in physical therapy from an accredited school and must be licensed by their state. By contrast, not all states offer licenses to massage therapists, who can learn their trade in a number of ways.

What Should You Wear to Manual Therapy?

At your first appointment, you might want to wear loose clothing. While that's a good idea, an even better one is to wear clothing that exposes your injured body part. If you hurt your knee, for instance, wear shorts. If you hurt your elbow, you might want to wear a tank top. This way, your manual therapist can better handle your body and better observe it. 

How Can You Get the Most from Manual Therapy?

The most important thing you can do during your therapy sessions is to communicate well with your manual therapist. Because of the work they are doing with your tissues, it is possible that you may feel a bit sore after a session. Be sure to communicate this with your therapist so that they can give you suggestions about how to soothe your muscles. Not only that, but they may choose to try different techniques in order to let your muscles recover.

You might also ask what you should be doing at home in between appointments. Should you rest the injured body part? Should you exercise? The better you can communicate with your therapist and keep up your end of the bargain at home, the quicker you might find your health improving.

Now that you have a deeper understanding of manual therapy, you can contact the physical therapist who will be doing the work with you. Ask them any additional questions you have so that you can be fully prepared and get the most out of this type of therapy. For more information, visit sites like http://www.nrothandrehab.com.