Joint mobilizations help to alleviate pain and tenderness in joints that have restricted amounts of movement (hypomobility) or are misaligned.
There is a natural amount of space between each joint which allows it’s movement and it is surrounded by a capsule or covering that will milk in synovial fluid which nourishes the joint and keeps the joint moving freely.
When structures such as fascia, muscles and tendons shorten with postural stress or when these structures and ligaments are injured such as in falling and landing on an outstretched arm, the joint can become restricted in its movement or displaced to an incorrect position. If the joint is restricted in its movement or in a displaced position, then the synovial fluid is not able to lubricate the joint properly and tissues inside the joint may become adhered to each other. (stuck together)
To address these conditions, joint mobilizations are used. The surrounding fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments are treated first with Swedish or non-Swedish techniques. The joint surfaces are gently distracted (separated) from each other. This will allow the therapist to gently move the joint into the restricted position and apply a mobilizing technique.
Joint mobilizing techniques include taking the joint to a position and applying a static (non moving) stretching technique, while other techniques use an oscillation (a movement back and forth with a regular speed). The mobilizations may be slightly tender but should not create large amounts of pain. Communication with your therapist during the treatment will ensure that you receive minimal discomfort during the application of joint mobilization.
If you have a history of rib subluxation, shoulder dislocation, joint replacement, previous joint injury, or have any history of joint disease, it is important to indicate this on your health history form so that certain joint mobilization techniques are not used.
As massage therapists we are trained and permitted to use joint mobilization techniques that do not involve high velocity thrusts. High velocity thrust joint mobilization is performed by Chiropractors.