In recent years there has been a lot of focus in the world of connective tissue in the realm of fascia and ligaments. As clinicians we’ve gleaned from numerous journal articles and presenters the need to keep in mind the neurological influence ligaments have on the body. But what does that really mean for us? Manual Ligament Therapy (MLT) is one of the missing techniques in most manual therapists’ toolboxes. MLT contributes to the healing process of ligaments and also uses the influence of ligaments on connective tissue to quickly relax hypertonic muscles, tendons and fascia. It allows a speedy resolution for simple physical impairments and speeds up the healing process in more difficult and complex conditions.
As a modality MLT is very easy to apply and relevant to anyone who is in the healing profession or cares for another human being. There are no complicated, strenuous or painful protocols for the patient and/or clinician to go through, making it applicable for patients in all degrees of pain due to injury, on bed rest or terminally ill. Results are fast and often dramatic by way of halting much of the damaging neurological influence of the ligaments. The by-product of this effect is to allow muscles and joints to return to a more normal state that allows fluidity as well as stability when in motion. When used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, such as Active Isolated Stretching or Neuro Kinetic Therapy, the results are especially long lasting and often curative. In many cases a pathological condition that would normally take 12 or more treatments to address is resolved in six or less treatments. Clinically this has been observed time and time again. MLT is very effective in treating athletes, who are recovering from an injury, as well as fine-tuning their bodies for optimal functioning at all skill levels. MLT not only greatly reduces pain, but it has also been shown to increase athletic performance due to the effect it has on the nervous system and all that is regulated by it. In fact, MLT is the chosen treatment modality of the famous, University of Southern California swim and dive team.
Q: What is Manual Ligament Therapy™?
A: Manual Ligament Therapy (MLT), created by Arik Gohl, utilizes the sensory qualities of ligaments to correct muscular imbalance and dysfunction.
MLT gently stimulates the ligaments to quickly and painlessly relax muscles via reduction of hypertonicity. The process is very simple. The muscle to be treated is identified. It is put into a shortened position. This allows the muscle to relax. Then the corresponding ligament is gently pressed in a specific direction. Finally an isometric (unmoving) contraction is held for about 4-6 seconds to completely shut off the neurological loop that causes the muscle to tighten up or ”be on guard” in the first place.
Q: What makes MLT different or more effective than other techniques?
A: Research studies at universities at the national and international level have revealed that ligaments are a significant source of acute, sub-acute, and chronic muscle pain and dysfunction. This research is at the heart of MLT. Utilizing the ligaments, among the deepest of tissues, creates significant change in muscles and fascia. With this advantage, MLT quickly resolves simple injuries and can be a huge step in resolving difficult and complex injuries and pathologies.
Another advantage of MLT is the fact that it can be performed fully clothed. This is ideal for patients who require more modesty.
Q: Why do ligaments have such an effect on muscles?
A: Ligaments are a type of connective tissue close to the joints, connecting bone to bone. They also have highly specialized proprioceptive cells called mechanoreceptors. These cells monitor stability and the position of the joint. When they sense something is not right, they recruit muscles to be tight or relaxed depending on the demand being placed upon the joint. Furthermore, as long as these cells detect the presence of joint instability, they continue to send signals to the corresponding muscles and fascia to tighten for greater stability. As a result, ligaments are largely responsible for keeping muscles in a state of constant tension. The long-term result of this condition is chronic pain and associated symptoms of muscle atrophy and steady physical decline.
Q: How does MLT relax muscles?
A: It is surprisingly simple. First it is important to know which ligament affects which muscle or myofascial region of the body. Second, shorten the muscle that needs to be relaxed. Third, engage the opposite muscle in a gentle isometric (not moving) contraction while applying gentle pressure to bend the ligament slightly. The bending of the ligament stimulates the mechanoreceptors that control muscle tension. The result is a release of hypertonicity held in the muscle or fascia.
Q: How does MLT fit with my regular session?
Relaxing muscles with MLT allows for an easier and more effective treatment session. The muscle will be in a relaxed state, ready to relax and lengthen with greater ease. The end result is less effort on the part of the clinician with better results. It takes very little time to release muscles and fascia with MLT, so you will not take away from any other modalities you are using. You will achieve a more profound result with any of the therapies you are already doing with less effort on your part and no pain on the patient’s part. Your results will be quicker and longer lasting. Sometimes you may discover that MLT is the missing piece for relieving chronic conditions that could not been fully resolved with other modalities.
Q: Can MLT be part of a series of treatments or a treatment plan?
A: The injury or pathology will determine the course of action needed to assist the patient in returning to better health. In some cases MLT will be all you need, but if you are dealing with a more serious injury or pathology, MLT will become part of the treatment plan and should be applied in a series of sessions to promote rapid recovery.
Manual Ligament Therapy courses leading to qualification at the Basic Level are generally set up to cover either the Upper or Lower Body. To qualify for certification at the Basic Level, you will need 32 CE (contact hours) in both Upper and Lower Body protocols. After a student has learned the basics, more advanced classes incorporating adjunctive therapies can be taken to insure a well-rounded knowledge base is achieved. For a list of Certified Therapists click here.
Basic Level certification in MLT is administered through Evolution Manual Therapy Associates LLC. There is a one-time application fee of $50 to cover administrative costs and an eventual $50 annual fee after the new website is live. To request an application for certification, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see the Calendar for available courses and schedules.