Muscle Energy Technique (MET) was developed by Dr Fred Mitchell Sr., D.O. as an alternative to high-velocity manipulation. MET is a form of therapy that uses muscle contractions and body positioning to normalize joint motion. It is a way to increase the structural and functional integrity along the whole movement chain, helping to achieve a healthy increased range of motion by spontaneously strengthening previously inhibited muscles. MET therapy results in a decrease in sympathetic overload and a lessening of localized pain and irritation.
The muscle in the affected area is taken to its point of resistence where it can’t comfortably go any farther. At that point, an isometric contraction is created as the client pushes against the resistance of the therapist about five seconds. In an isometric contraction there is no movement. There is no need for either client or therapist to use much force. There is a natural “post-isometric relaxation” that occurs following the isometric contraction. After the contraction phase, the client takes a breath in, and on the outbreath, allows the muscle area to move to a new motion barrier. This process is done a number of times until an adequate length has been returned to the area.
Another way that MET works is called “reciprocal inhibition,” a method used to treat acute muscle spasm. It is also a safe substitute when there is pain involved in treating the agonist muscle. It is accomplished the same as above; however, it is applied to the antagonist muscle instead of the agonist. (Since muscles work in pairs, each pair has an agonist and an antagonist.) The agonist is the primary muscle doing the work, while the antagonist directly opposes the agonist. As the agonist contracts, the antagonist automatically relaxes. Actually strengthening the antagonist will further release the tight agonist muscle.
Athletes use Muscle Energy Technique to prevent future muscle and joint injury. It is also an ideal massage therapy for people who have limited range of motion due to back, neck and shoulder pain, sciatica and asymmetrical legs, hips or arms.
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