We’re often asked about the various services we provide, and the techniques we use. By far the most common questions we get is “What is manual therapy?” And usually, there are follow-up questions about specific techniques too.

In this post, I’ll explain manual therapy, and give examples of how our unique hybrid approach can be used to treat a variety of issues.

First, let’s get to know each other

I’m Dr. Mike Smith, or just “Smith” as my team calls me around the Tangelo clinic. I’m a Doctor of Chiropractic and Tangelo’s Director of Practice Operations. My focus is delivering positive outcomes for my clients while maintaining operational excellence in-clinic.

I grew up in Crown Point, Indiana, a Chicago suburb, but since moving to Seattle to join Tangelo I’ve grown to love Seattle’s outdoor, culinary, and microbrew scenes. But back to manual therapy…

What is Manual Therapy? How does it work?

Manual therapy and Movement is the hands-on treatment you receive at Tangelo. It’s a hybrid approach we developed that incorporates multiple therapy methodologies. Depending on your condition, we draw from a number of proven techniques. The goal is to use the best method available specific to you to get you feeling better and moving better.

The techniques we use include (but aren’t limited to) Active Release Techniques, traditional sports chiropractic, Functional Range Conditioning®, and instrument-assisted techniques such as dry cupping and Graston Technique®.

Examples of Manual Therapy treatment at Tangelo

For example, say John Doe walks in with lower back pain from a disc injury. We might use sports chiropractic to gently restore healthy movement in his spine, and then use Active Release Technique to release tight muscles and increase blood flow.

Or, say Jane Doe has tightness in her shoulders. We might use the Graston Technique® to reduce pain and tightness in your muscles, and then use Kinesiotape to subtly queue her to maintain better posture in her upper back.

Dry cupping is one of the techniques used to relieve pain and restore mobility

OK, but what about the Movement part?

Movement, also called functional rehab, is the physical rehabilitation program. Here, you do the work with guidance from a doctor or rehab specialists. You’ll do movements that build strength, increase mobility, and help the body relearn healthy movement patterns. Movement therapy is where you lock in the benefits of manual therapy. Strength on top of healthy movement will turn your favorite activity, like running, lifting, or hiking into “medicine.”


Examples of Movement therapy

Remember John Doe and his low back pain? John’s rehab specialist will lead him through exercises to strengthen and stabilize his core. Dead bugs and Bird Dogs are two popular movements. Then John will also do this routine at home, between treatments.

Jane and her shoulder? She might do Serratus Punches and Scapular Cars to get the shoulders moving more smoothly through their full range of motion. Then she’ll use a foam roller to do some overhead shoulder flexion, to really loosen things up.

You’ll get a full home program of exercises to complete between treatment sessions at Tangelo, and we update these throughout your plan as needed.

Why both?

Pairing Manual Therapy and Movement gets results. It’s faster than seeing a number of different specialists for each component of your treatment, and we believe it is the best way to recover and heal, while giving you the tools to stay healed.

There’s no single magic bullet that solves everything. That’s why we use a mix of different manual therapy techniques and then lock in the benefits with movement. Because it gets real results.

clients follow the instructions of rehab specialists in a tangelo clinic

Thanks for reading

It can be a lot to digest, so I hope this helps explain our process and why we use this unique hybrid approach.

There’s no better feeling than seeing a client experience a breakthrough and get back to doing the things they love. And of course if you’re in pain, I’d love to help you out at our West Seattle clinic.