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BackHug vs Manual Therapy: Effective Pain Relief & Treatment Alternatives

by Eric Woehrling on

Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from back pain, headache, neck or shoulder pain, sciatica, tennis elbow, stiffness or reduced mobility?

Even if you don't personally suffer from any of the above, it's likely that you know somebody who does, that's how prevalent the problem is. You may also be familiar with manual therapy (such as physiotherapy) as a treatment option for many of those problems. 

Back pain is a complex problem, impacted by your job, lifestyle, injuries, psychology and many other factors. Clearly, different solutions will work better for different people and at different times. Here we're going to try to unpick the key differences between BackHug and manual physical therapy so you can get a clear picture of their pros and cons.

What are the differences between a BackHug session and a manual therapy session?

adult woman in her 40s enjoying a BackHug treatment session, lying down on the BackHug device with the legs in a tabletop position

BackHug uses spinal mobilization techniques, similar to those used in physical therapy, to increase joint mobility and reduce aches and pains.


However, there are some key differences between the two solutions:

  • Consistency: Physical therapists have a physically demanding job, which means that, as the day goes by, they might get tired. Our founder, Chongsu, who practiced for 10-years as a physiotherapist, has himself admitted that the treatment he gave at the end of a working day was worse than the treatment he was able to offer at the start. Unlike human therapists, BackHug doesn't get tired or need a break, meaning that it can provide consistent pressure and motion for the entire session. In other words, BackHug is just as effective, whatever the time of day.
  • 26 fingers. Because BackHug has 26 robotic fingers rather than two hands, BackHug can treat your whole back and neck at the same time.
  • Cost: An in-person therapy session can cost upwards of £100/hour, and if you need multiple sessions a month, the price can quickly add up. With BackHug, you can use it as much as you like, whenever you need it, and the cost stays exactly the same.
  • Convenience. With BackHug, there is no need to make a booking, or travel to an appointment to get the care you need. You can get professional-grade back therapy from the comfort of your own home, even in your PJs.

All that being said, BackHug is a machine. There are many advantages of manual therapy which are very difficult, some might say impossible, for a machine to replace:

  • Sophisticated assessment. Therapists are able to carry out a sophisticated diagnosis of your issues, asking you to go through different motions, like getting you to stand on one leg, or going through relevant factors like your lifestyle, job and history of injuries, in order to problem-solve those issues in real time.
  • Exercises and advice. After they assess you, manual therapists will typically come up with a list of lifestyle changes, such as adjusting your desk height or your sitting posture, as well as specific stretches and exercises, all of which will have a significant positive impact on your health - if you implement their recommendations and do your exercises! A machine like BackHug doesn't offer that kind of holistic consultation service.
  • Whole body treatment. Although the joints in the back and the neck treated by BackHug are key to a great many of the mechanical issues we may encounter, BackHug can only treat those joints. There are many other problems you may encounter, like a sprained ankle or tightness at the top of the back of your leg from sitting too long or stiff neck from using your mouse that only a manual therapist can treat. So there are many issues for which, realistically, you're going to need manual treatment. 

Does BackHug replace the need for manual therapy/massages?

Old couple with back pain

One of the most common questions about BackHug is whether it can replace manual therapy. The answer is "no." While BackHug addresses many of the same problems as manual therapy, it won't replace manual therapists. The relationship is a more subtle one, with BackHug and manual therapy complementing each other in different ways.

Seeing a specialist is important if you want a professional diagnosis or if you require specialised treatment. BackHug can't provide such diagnosis. What BackHug can provide, however, is a powerful at-home solution that you can use to keep your back healthy day-to-day, whether that is as a primary method of keeping aches and pains at bay or as a way to supplement manual therapy by giving you ongoing maintenance between your manual therapy sessions.

Can physical therapists benefit from using BackHug too?

Manual therapyst giving a back massage

Do you have a clinic? Are you so busy that at the end of the day your wrists or thumbs are crying out for help? BackHug can be a powerful ally for you as well as your patients.

By incorporating BackHug into your practice, you can streamline patient care and offer your patients ongoing maintenance and relief between sessions.

BackHug offers a special plan for businesses, which includes:

  • A 30-Day commitment-free trial
  • The easy-to-use "BackHug" app, so patients can operate BackHug themselves without taking up your time.
  • Remote updates and free servicing
  • Access to BackHug's Management Portal (so you can set usage parameters and check statistics)
  • A Privacy Booth in case you don't want to use a dedicated room (optional at an extra cost)

Can machines and humans finally get along?

white coat doctor with fake spine model

We like to think so!

While manual therapy has been the traditional method for treating back pain, and continues to bring relief to those who use it, technology now plays a more significant role in making professional-level back therapy accessible. Particularly as there is a growing demand for affordable and convenient back care which BackHug, with its focus on affordability, convenience and - most importantly - therapeutic benefit, addresses. 

BackHug removes the need to travel to appointments by providing a convenient solution that gives you the freedom to reduce your back pain from the comfort of your living-room. And, if you’re already feeling the benefits of regular manual therapy, you can still use BackHug to complement your manual treatment and achieve greater overall back pain relief and more freedom of movement.

Remember, it’s important to see a specialist if you require specialised treatment or a professional diagnosis.