Going to Rehab: Manual Therapy

October 10, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Going to Rehab. I have struggled this fall to keep updated here and keeping this series going. I do try to write athletic training articles, but sometimes falter. I apologize. I continue to try to do better!

This week I’m going to talk about manual therapy. When I was in college, I thought it was a waste of time. Manual therapy, to me, meant massage and it meant beating up my hands. It also meant rubbing smelly concoctions of chemicals such as Flex-All or BioFreeze on an athlete’s legs or whatever. It was definitely not my cup of tea.

Fast forward to today where I have realized that manual therapy is an excellent way to improve outcomes and help your athletes perform! I was sent to a continuing education course over the summer where I was taught the Graston Technique. Graston, as I have discussed before, uses stainless steel instruments rather than using one’s hands. Previous to me taking the course, I thought it was one of those things that all of our PT staff was using because it was another money-maker. I’m not going to say it is never used for that reason, but its clinical applications are significant.

I have come around to believing in this Technique big-time! I am working with two athletes right now a few times a week for some knee issues. One of them, a high school volleyball player, came to me with IT Band Friction Syndrome and complained of significant popping at the distal ITB near Gerdy’s Tubercle. Here we are 3 weeks and about 4 treatments later and the popping has been reduced almost completely. When I first evaluated her I could feel the popping and I felt like it was bones moving around! Now the popping remains, but it feels much more normal and I would almost expect to feel that kind of movement of tissue. We will continue to work for a couple more weeks as we improve her movement, eliminate her pain, and return her back to weight lifting and full activity.

I have always thought that exercise was the best rehabilitation I could provide. I’m not going away from exercise because it is an excellent modality for injury prevention and injury rehabilitation. But manual therapy is definitely something to consider when working with athletes!

There are numerous types of manual therapy out there and I’m not saying one is better than another because I don’t have the experience, training, or knowledge to say that. But I am really starting to fully believe that the Graston Technique is definitely beneficial and I am so glad I have it at my disposal!

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One Response to “Going to Rehab: Manual Therapy”


  1. Excellent post! I must say I am in the same boat as you in regards to my mindset on manual therapy. The more experience I gain, the more I value manual therapy. Trust me I’m still a newbie with it but I do see significant strides made when its incorporated in a treatment/rehabilitation program.


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