Manual therapy has a long history within the profession of physical therapy and physical therapists have greatly contributed to the current diversity in manual therapy approaches and techniques. Mechanical explanations were historically used to explain the mechanisms by which manual therapy interventions worked, new research reveals intricate neurophysiologic mechanisms are also at play and the beneficial psychological effects of providing hands-on examination and intervention should not be ignored.
The International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) defines manual therapy techniques as: "Skilled hand movements intended to produce any or all of the following effects: improve tissue extensibility, increase range of motion of the joint complex; mobilize or manipulate soft tissues and joints, induce relaxation, change muscle function; modulate pain; and reduce soft tissue swelling, inflammation or movement restriction."
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