Muscle Energy Technique
Is a manual therapy that uses the gentle muscle contractions of the client to relax and lengthen muscles and normalize joint motion. It is “a direct manipulative procedure that uses a voluntary contraction of the patient’s muscles against a distinctly controlled counterforce made by the practitioner (most likely). It is considered an active technique, as opposed to a passive technique where only the therapist does the work.
There are two types of MET:
1. Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR) The therapist stretches and lengthens a muscle as it relaxes right after a client contraction. This lengthens, relaxes and realigns the muscle fibres.
2. Reciprocal Inhibition (RI) It is a law of body dynamics that when you contract a muscle the opposing or reciprocal muscle must relax. That is the way the brain is wired and the principle that makes this technique work. The therapist has the client’s muscle perform a contraction against resistance which relaxes the opposing muscle.
Restricted movement that can cause conditions like back pain, headache, scoliosis, sciatica, etc.
The theory behind MET suggests that if a joint isn’t 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 energy (the force); while the therapist presents a stationary surface (or anti-force) the patient will contract their muscle against 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 and joint injury. However, its mainly used by individuals who have a limited range of motion due to back, neck and shoulder pain, scoliosis, sciatica, unsymmetrical legs, hips or arms (for example when one is longer or higher than the other), or to treat chronic muscle pain, stiffness or injury.
ET is therefore used in the following circumstances:
- To stretch muscles, especially those considered to be postural rather than phasic
- To strengthen muscles
- To relax muscles, especially useful for treating cramping muscles
- To help regain correct muscle function
- To reduce localized oedema