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Optimizing Outcomes: Adding Corrective Exercise to your Manual Therapy Treatment

Manual therapy has consistently shown to be effective in treating musculoskeletal conditions, although an increasing amount of evidence demonstrates that combining manual therapy with corrective exercise improves outcomes even further.

Corrective exercise should not be taken to mean doing intense workout sessions in the treatment room. Instead, it is about performing a variety of targeted movements that address specific biomechanical deficits identified earlier in the assessment phase.

Corrective exercises are especially effective in treating the following:

1. Tendonitis

Recovery from tendonitis can be a lengthy process and requires diligent progression of exercises to ensure return to sport is achieved safely and with minimal delay.

Manual therapy in isolation is often not the optimal approach to treat these conditions since it cannot sufficiently stimulate the physiological process that rebuilds tendon strength.

This is particularly the case for individuals who place above average levels of strain on their tendons.

2. Muscular imbalances causing painful movement patterns

If a muscle does not function properly, another group of muscles must compensate. Since compensatory muscles are not designed to do that job, they struggle, and problems arise over time.

Initially, the muscle trying to compensate becomes chronically fatigued, causing pain. This compensatory pattern, however, can cascade into bigger biomechanical problems where joints away from the original problem begin to be affected. The longer we stay in compensatory movement patterns, the longer it takes to return to optimal function and pain free movement.

Fortunately, as the body is constantly working to find equilibrium, if we can find and address the muscular imbalance, pain-free movement can be restored.

3. Poor biomechanics + repetitive movement = micro-trauma to joints

If you take a movement that involves either high loads or high repetitions such as running, hiking, squatting, deadlifting etc. and you combine it with faulty movement patterns, micro trauma to the joints will accumulate, increasing the probability of injury.

The first step is to identify faulty movement patterns, the second is to address them with corrective exercise and manual therapy for lasting change.

Although manual therapy is core to recovery, it is the addition of corrective exercise to your treatment plan that allows you to optimize outcomes.

Just as manual therapy has its unique benefits, so too does corrective exercise – more will be achieved where treatments complement each other.

Written by Sports Osteopath - Theo Chapman


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