MET (Muscle Energy Techniques) Part II
Contract Relax Techniques
Contract Relax Techniques occur through the neurological feedback loop consisting of the Golgi tendon organs (GTO), the muscle spindle fibers and the spinal cord. A sustained isometric contraction causes a loading of the GTO which influences the muscle spindle fibers. The Contract Relax Techniques produces 20 – 25 second relaxation of tone, during which the muscles can be more easily stretched into a new length.
Reciprocal Inhibition relies on the agonist muscles contracting by using an excitatory impulse from the afferent pathway, and thus an inhibitory impulse is automatically generated to antagonists, which reduces the tone for about 20 seconds.
To achieve this, I typically perform gentle sustained stretching following Muscle Energy Techniques (MET). I follow that with functional activities that promote elongation for the muscle/muscle group that we are affecting.
The last goal of a MET that should be mentioned is its ability to change the brains output regarding pain. As research continues to be churned out regarding pain science, it’s worth noting that a MET energy technique is an input to the nervous system. The MET acts as a novel input to a patient, and many times s considered non-threatening, as the patient feels they are in control of the forces. As we have come to know and understand, any new non-threatening input to the brain usually has a positive impact on the brains output. The brain perceives this new input as non-threatening, and therefore, reduces tone, sensitivity levels, and overall pain reduction is increases which allows for more freedom of movement.
I personally enjoy using Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) with patients that have a high fear and avoidance score, are hypersensitive and are overall apprehensive about treatment and their pain. One of the main reason I like utilizing METs is because the patient feels they are in control and therefore, they feel more safe. Research indicates manipulations are safe, but in general, large populations of lay-persons have heard horror stories of manipulations. A MET approach is appropriate for these patients and can have similar affects to control pain and tone.
In a future section, we will look closer at the MET process and how to perform the techniques most effectively.
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