Physical Therapy Techniques

Physical Therapy Techniques

The reason for undergoing physical therapy will likely determine what sort of physical therapy technique should be used. Whether its physical therapy for endurance or physical therapy for knee pain, it’s important to be patient and understand that everyone’s body reacts differently. All physical therapy treatments are unique to the patient and to the situation. The following are some physical therapy techniques that are commonly used to help a patient regain full function in order to perform usual daily activities. 

Short Term Relief

  1. Modalities are frequently used on a short-term basis to quickly decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation as well as improve function. The most common modalities include:
    • Ultrasound: While this might be considered for diagnostic use only, many physical therapist use it for treatment. It can produce deep heat in the tissues to relieve pain and break up scar tissue.
    • Electrical stimulation: This technique helps reduce inflammation, maintaining muscles control, reeducating muscle fibers and reducing pain.
    • Ice/ heat pack: Ice reduces inflammation, pain and swelling whereas heat helps increase circulation, reduce spasms, loosen tight muscles and improves flexibility.
    • Iontophoresis: Iontophoresis uses electrical current to move ions of medication into tissues from the skin. This is most helpful with conditions such as tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and bursitis. 
  2. Traction can be used to reduce pressure and increase comfort and movement by using a pulling device.
  3. Manual therapy such as massage and manual manipulation of the spine can help mobilize soft tissue, muscles and joints.

Long Term Relief


  1. Isometrics exercises are designed to make the muscles contract but not move. Pressing your body against a fixed wall would be a great example of isometrics.
  2. Closed/open chain exercises are also used for long term relief. Closed chain exercises deal with keeping the body part or muscle group stationary like in squats, whereas open chain exercises moves the body without resistance like with a leg lift. Both are great for improving stability.
  3. Gait Training teaches proper movement and provides the patient with exercises at home to improve mobility and decrease pain. Rubber bands, self-traction units and lumbar postural rolls are all part of gait training physical therapy.

Our physical therapy center is built around exercise and movement aimed at helping the patient gain the strength and range of motion needed to function normally. Our physical therapists design a plan, choosing from hundreds of exercise options to best meet the individual patient’s needs and wants.