What is Manual Therapy?

In manual therapy a systems approach is utilized.  This entails evaluation of each system of the body to determine areas in dysfunction and the appropriate techniques need to correct that dysfunction.  Below is a list of techniques found to be most helpful in treating each of those systems.

Muscle Energy: Skeletal System 
  • used to treat biomechanical dysfunction of the pelvis and the spine 
  • utilizes gentle isometric contractions to mobilize specific joint restrictions 
  • improves postural asymmetries, ranges of motion, strength, and function

Strain/Couterstrain: Muscular System 
  • Developed by Lawrence Jones, D.O. who wrote his book in 1981 after 40 years of clinical practice. 
  • Dr. Jones found that by positioning a muscle in protective muscle spasm on slack for 90 seconds the muscle spindle relayed information to the central nervous system which reset the muscle to a normal gamma bias. This hypothesis was derived by Irving Korr who worked with Dr. Jones. 

Myofascial Release: Connective Tissue System 
  • Can be performed in a direct or indirect manner. 
  • In the direct manner the tissues are loaded with a constant force until release occurs 
  • Indirect myofascial release occurs when the tissues are guided along the path of least resistance until freedom is attained. 

Craniosacral Therapy: Central Nervous System 
  • Developed approximately 1940 by William Sutherland, D.O. 
  • Further developed by John Upledger, D.O. 
  • Influences the structure and fluid in and around the central nervous system, the dura, dural attachments to the cranial bones and spine, the fascial connections throughout the body. 

Visceral Manipulation: Visceral System 
  • Popularized and many books written by Jean Pierre Barral, D.O. 
  • Barral teaches the anatomy and function of the organs and their attachments to the surrounding bone, muscles, and fascias, Specific soft tissue techniques are utilized to normalize the mobility and motility of the organs and surrounding tissues. 

Manual Lymph Drainage:  Lymphatic System

  • Popularized by Dr. Vodder from Austria
  • This approach necessitates a comprehensive knowledge of the anatomy of the lymphatic system and the utilization of gentle strokes to facilitate improved movement to optimize lymphatic circulation.

Neural Tension Techniques:  Peripheral Nervous System

  • Popularized by Butler and Elvey
  • Works to normalize the flexibility of the peripheral nervous system
  • This consists of gentle positioning along the anatomical tracking of specific peripheral nerves.

Zero Balancing:  Energy System

  • Developed by Fritz Smith, M.D.
  • Utilizes the western view of structure and foundation  joints and the Eastern philosophy of energy movement combined into a Zero Balancing protocol

Process Acupressure:  Energy System

  • Developed  by Aminah Raheem Ph.D.
  • Utilizes a form of acupressure called Jin Shin Jyutsu in combination with process oriented psychology to affect transformational growth and psychospiritual  healing.


Somatoemotional Release:  Emotional System

  • Developed by Dr. John Upledger
  • Utilizes the craniosacral system and dialogue to release areas of  emotional holding in the body.

In addition to the above techniques we can also draw from theories and techniques such as McKenzie, Cyriax Feldenkrais, Kendall, Trager, Travell, electrotherapy, Biondi , Mulligan , Thom, and so many others.