Everyday life can really take a toll on our bodies. Whether it’s postural problems caused by sitting in an office all day, or muscle injuries caused by the exertions of physical work or athletics, the stresses and strains of our daily routines tend to accumulate, weakening joints and muscle groups over time and leading to chronic problems. In recent years, Muscle Energy Technique (MET) has been shown to be an effective method in the rehabilitation process, supporting a patient’s return to pain free range of body movement.
Read on to find out more about Muscle Energy Techniques and its benefits in treating a wide range of symptoms.
Developed by osteopaths in the 1950s, Muscle Energy Technique works on the basic principle that joints need to be used to their full range of motion, otherwise their function will lessen over time, leaving them more susceptible to injuries.
In OVCMT's massage therapy diploma program, students learn how to apply this and other advanced techniques to help treat a range of conditions. Unlike many massage therapy techniques, MET is an active process for both therapist and patient. During this process, the patient is invited to contract the injured muscle while the therapist provides a stationary resistance, allowing them to stretch and lengthen the muscle.
Massage therapy schools teach students to employ Muscle Energy Technique in two ways. In Post-Isometric Relaxation, the client first contracts the muscle before the therapist stretches and lengthens it, realigning the muscle fiber in the process. The Reciprocal Inhibition method, on the other hand, involves the therapist having the patient contract one muscle in order to relax the reciprocal muscle, e.g. contracting the quadriceps in order to relax the hamstrings. This method works due to the natural neurological impulse to relax the opposing muscle when one muscle contracts.
Used correctly, Muscle Energy Technique can help patients to:
MET can be used in any case where patients are suffering from a limited range of motion. This can include more serious problems, such as scoliosis and sciatica, to more routine postural problems affecting the back and neck. It is also commonly used in treating motion difficulties caused by asymmetrical body parts, such as when one leg is shorter than the other. In each of these cases, MET can be helpful in restoring proper joint mechanics and improving the patient’s range of movement. It also can reduce pain or stiffness that may go along with their condition.
While Muscle Energy Technique is mainly used to treat patients with pre-existing range of motion issues, it can also play a crucial role for athletes, who use it as a preventative measure to guard against the risk of future injuries. Professionals with sports massage therapy education will work with athletes to incorporate MET into their pre-game or pre-workout warm-ups. By ensuring a full range of motion in their joints, they become more better able to deal with unexpected pressure or movement, thus lessening the likelihood of injury.
Do you know other situations in which a massage therapist may apply Muscle Energy Technique?