What is self-mobilisation? Have you ever had neck or lower back pain? Did you decide to get physiotherapy treatment? Well, you probably had mobilisation during your treatment.

However, before you dig into self-mobilisation and what it is used for. Let’s just quickly give you an idea on what is mobilisation.

Mobilisation is a simple glide of the joint surfaces in relation to one another. This technique was primarily designed by Maitland and developed further through Brian Mulligan who then combined it with movement.

Back Pain, Pain, Body, Backache, Shoulder, Muscle, Work

An example of mobilisation

Let’s assume there is a problem with back bone number 4 (lumber vertebrae L4). Your therapist can do graded mobilisation of your bone in relation to the number 5 to release the structure that lies between these two vertebrae.

For example if you have back pain when leaning forward, your therapist can position you in the same triggering direction and mobilise you this way. By doing this your spine is getting used to the movement, adapting gradually to the position that used to be painful and loosening-up any restrictions that were present in that position due to Pain.

How long does mobilisation take?

Working on one spinal level, the minimum reccommendation of 3 sets at 1 minute each is advided. This is to allow pain reduction, movement re-education and changing your perception of the Pain.

However, mobilisation has many grades. The first two grades are done to relieve your pain. Therefore, if your therapist has done the first two grades then you should feel better after your mobilisation.

What other grades of mobilisation are there?

There are five grades of mobilisation in total. Grades 3 and 4 are most commonly used to increase your range of movement.  The final grade is the manipulation grade, this is charcterised by the sudden movements that usually produce and an audible click.

Can I do mobilisation myself?

Yes! Your self-mobilisation is a very common exercise prescription in physiotherapy. If we continue with the same example as before of pain when you're bending forwards. You can use a self-mobilisation belt, or even a towel to reproduce the painful movement but pain free. Using the belt at the area of pain will help to support the structure that actively participates in the problem movement and will help you complete that movement pain free.

Back Pain, Pain, Spine, Body, Ache

What is the benefit of making a temporary pain free movement?

When you recreate the pain free movement, you will start to address the problem and it will also change your perception of your body's relationshipo with pain. The movement that used to be very painful can actually be made with less to no pain. This will change your perception about your problem and should break the apprehension cycle that is always reproduced in that painful position.

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  1.  Manual therapy NAGS,SNAGS,MWMS,etc by Brian R.Mulligan, 5th edition, 2004.
  2. Mulligan Concept - Manual Therapy (
  3.  Exelby, Linda. "Peripheral mobilizations with movement." Manual Therapy 1.3 (1996): 118-126.
  4. T1  - Mulligan Self Mobilization Versus Mulligan Snags on Cervical Position Sense

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