When force is applied to any part of the body to stretch soft tissue or separate articular surfaces, it is known as traction. The result is increased mobility and stability.
Traction is used by physical therapists to relieve muscle spasms, to stretch fibrotic tissues and cause adhesions to break, to temporarily immobilize body parts, and to relieve congestion in a part of the body.
In manual traction, the force is applied as either a continuous steady pull, intermittent pulls or a few quick pulls. In mechanical traction, different kinds of mobile traction units are used to cause a constant pull. The process may take from a few minutes to a number of hours.