Mobilization (soft tissue mobilization)

Synonyms

Manual therapy, physical therapy, range of motion, soft tissue mobilization.

Background

Mobilization is a type of manual therapy, or hands on physical therapy usually practiced by chiropractors and physical therapists. The term "mobilization" deals with the manipulation of soft tissue encapsulating a joint, called fascia, and muscles over joints that have restricted range of motion. Fascia, muscles, and ligaments may tighten after an injury. Advocates, such as the Somatics System Institute, claim that these soft tissues around the bone need to be stretched in order to improve or restore range of motion. Tightness in joints, advocates claim, may also restrict the flow of blood, lymph, and nerve signals in the area. Manual therapy may also promote proper restoration of joint function after an injury.

Range of motion is the ability to move a joint, such as the elbow, at the normal extent without pain. So, in the case of the elbow, one is able to totally extend the forearm and then bend the elbow all the way. If this is not performed easily and without pain, the range of motion is restricted. Range of motion problems typically develop after injury. Ligaments may be torn, bursa may move out of place, or a bone may be broken or displaced. Range of motion is closely related to quality of life. If an elbow does not bend properly, it would be difficult to perform daily tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, and opening doors.

Patients seek soft tissue mobilization therapy for any number of joint complications, including those in the hands, feet, elbows, hips, neck, and spine.

Mobilization is a type of manual therapy, or hands on physical therapy usually practiced by chiropractors and physical therapists. The term "mobilization" deals with the manipulation of soft tissue encapsulating a joint, called fascia, and muscles over joints that have restricted range of motion. Fascia, muscles, and ligaments may tighten after an injury. Advocates, such as the Somatics System Institute, claim that these soft tissues around the bone need to be stretched in order to improve or restore range of motion. Tightness in joints, advocates claim, may also restrict the flow of blood, lymph, and nerve signals in the area. Manual therapy may also promote proper restoration of joint function after an injury.

Range of motion is the ability to move a joint, such as the elbow, at the normal extent without pain. So, in the case of the elbow, one is able to totally extend the forearm and then bend the elbow all the way. If this is not performed easily and without pain, the range of motion is restricted. Range of motion problems typically develop after injury. Ligaments may be torn, bursa may move out of place, or a bone may be broken or displaced. Range of motion is closely related to quality of life. If an elbow does not bend properly, it would be difficult to perform daily tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, and opening doors.

Patients seek soft tissue mobilization therapy for any number of joint complications, including those in the hands, feet, elbows, hips, neck, and spine.

Theory/evidence

Although available research proving the usefulness of mobilization is sparse, this therapy has been integrated into most physical therapy textbooks.


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