Joint mobilisation is a manual therapy which involves passively moving joints in the body. The aim is to help improve joint mobility and pain.
After injury the range of motion within a joint can become impaired and regaining that mobility is important to the rehabilitation stage, by using gentle mobilisation techniques the range of movement and smoothness can be improved whilst the tension on surrounding soft tissue can be released.
Joint mobilisation has been used in treatment for a long time and is often employed by osteopaths and physios, however its use on the foot is less common. The foot contains 26 bones and 33 joints during day to day use these joints need to perform a variety of movement, previous injury can restrict these movements and lead to faulty biomechanics and other potential injuries.
Joint mobilisation can be extremely effective at helping restore movement after an ankle sprain, helping with a stiff big toe joint or general foot pain.
Soft Tissue Massage
Soft tissue massage is employed to help improve the healing, elasticity and strength of muscles and tendons. Much like with joint mobilisations it is a technique to improve function and mobility particularly after injury.
People often describe themselves of having a “knot” or “trigger point” in a muscle. Soft tissue massage can help free these cross fibres within the muscle making the muscle feel more relaxed. It can also help improve with blood flow to a certain area which helps the healing process.
Muscles that have become tight through overuse or compensation can often cause a problem further away, this is why a patient with foot pain must be assessed higher up the chain to help establish the cause.
Patients with Achilles pain and plantar fasciitis type pain often have problems stemming from tight calf muscles. Patients with chronic ankle sprains may have developed weakness in the lateral ligaments and tightness in the peroneal muscles. Soft tissue massage can be of great benefit with these conditions.
Acupuncture / Dry Needling
Dry needling focuses on the treatment of trigger points within the muscle, where soft tissue massage may sometimes be more general, needling can be more specific and can reach deeper into the muscle often less painfully than would be required with massage.
Traditional acupuncture can help with local and general feelings of pain along with providing a sense of wellbeing.
Acupuncture and dry needling have success in a wide variety of conditions. In a podiatric setting it is a useful treatment for knee pain, ankle pain and big toe joint pain, along with muscular injuries.