More and more I am finding muscle energy technique a really helpful tool in my work with my clients. This is helpful not only to the keen sportsperson who needs their muscles and tendons stretched out for free movement, but also for countless people who discover that they are experiencing limitation in their stretching or just finding moving around a tiring or painful experience or that sitting at the desk an arduous task.
My clients report to me that even after just one treatment of M.E.T they are feeling ‘taller’, more stretched out, agile, free and generally experiencing increased levels of energy.
So what can this do for me? I hear you ask. How would it work for me?
I will put it simply, and then you can read the ‘more’ section if you are interested.
Put simply, you lie on the massage couch as usual and during your treatment, following some deep tissue massage and warming up of the muscles, we work together to stretch out particular muscle groups such as hamstrings, quads, adductors, neck etc.
‘You push, I pull’. Not so strenuous as it sounds. You will be invited to push or ‘kick back’ against the therapist’s hand using only 10% of your strength. This action fires the muscles and then after 10 seconds you release before taking a breath in and out allowing the therapist to bring the limb back into its usual place, leaving it ‘longer’, more ‘stretched out’ than when we started.
You probably do or have done this yourself by stretching or even using resistance bands, but many people find that working with the therapist is much more effective and you are not straining other muscles, such as your arms or shoulders in the process as the rest of your body remains relaxed and passive during the stretch.
Now for the exciting technical part …
Muscle Energy Technique (MET), used often in sports massage, is a manual therapy that uses the gentle muscle contractions of the patient or client in order to both relax and lengthen the chosen muscles and regularise the movement of the joint.
It is a very specific technique and is an active method, contrasting the oftentimes passive techniques used in sports massage therapy where the therapist is doing all the work, whilst the recipient is passive. The muscles of the joint are stretched by a voluntary contraction against the counterforce in a specific direction. For example the technique used for the quadriceps is performed with the client lying prone (face down) and the foot is held by the therapist whilst the client pushes against the therapist (with approximately 20% of their strength) and then releases whilst the therapist brings the leg into extension, lengthening the quadriceps to the desired length.
Muscle energy technique is based on a principle called ‘reciprocal inhibition’ where the muscles on one side of the joint will always relax to allow for the muscle on one side of the joint to relax to allow for contraction on the other side. This method lengthens muscles happily where they have been shortened and improve range of movement considerably. Clients are often surprised how quickly the R.O.M improves when we incorporate this therapeutic method into the sports massage or remedial massage session.
This muscle energy technique not only helps with repair and improved activity for sports and everyday activity, but is most helpful for everyone, athletes active men and women and indeed the not so active. It is a wonderful preventative procedure to injury as well as a helpful method following injury.
You will be invited to contract a muscle for approximately 5-seconds against the resistant force applied by the massage therapist. The muscle contraction is performed by the client 3 to 5 times in a row in the hope of stretching the muscle a little further each time.
Muscle Energy Technique is derived from the theory that if a joint is not used to its full range of motion, its function will lessen and it will be at risk of suffering strains and injuries. This form of muscular therapy makes use of a patient’s own muscle strength (the force); while the massage therapist presents a stationary surface (resistance) the patient will contract the muscle against the therapist’s hold in order to stretch the muscle and joint to its full potential.
Muscle energy techniques can be applied safely to almost any joint in the body. Many athletes use MET as a preventative measure to guard against future muscle or joint injury. It is mainly used by individuals who have a limited range of motion due to facet joint dysfunction in the neck or back, and for broader areas such as; shoulder pain, scoliosis of the spine, sciatica, leg length differential , pelvic tilt -giving rise to pain or discomfort above or below, or to treat chronic muscle pain, stiffness or injury.
There are two types of MET:
Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR) detailed above where the therapist stretches and lengthens the chosen muscle. Then there is ‘Reciprocal Inhibition’ (RI)
This is where the law of body dynamics shows that when you contract a muscle the opposing muscle has to relax. For instance , when you contract the bicep the tricep relaxes or contract the hamstrings and the quadriceps relax. The human mind works in this way and the body responds accordingly. Both of these methods assist with strengthening muscles, releasing tension and improving the health of the fascia and soft tissues.
If you are interested in combining this muscle energy technique into your sports massage or remedial massage treatment, please do not hesitate to speak to your therapist, who can advise you, about it.
Phone: 07970 162471