Muscle Energy Technique Bella Vista, AR

Muscle Energy Technique

Muscle Energy Techniques (METs) describes a broad class of manual therapy techniques directed at improving musculoskeletal function or joint function, and improving pain.[1] METs are commonly used by manual therapists, osteopaths, physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, osteopathic physicians, and massage therapists.[1]

Historically, the concept emerged as a form of osteopathic manipulative diagnosis and treatment in which the patient’s muscles are actively used on request, from a precisely controlled position, in a specific direction, and against a distinctly executed physician counterforce. It was first described in 1948 by Fred Mitchell, Sr, D.O.[2] Muscle energy techniques are used to treat somatic dysfunction, especially decreased range of motion, muscular hypertonicity, and pain.

Muscle energy is a direct and active technique; meaning it engages a restrictive barrier and requires the patient’s participation for maximal effect. As the patient performs an isometric contraction, the following physiologic changes occur:

  • Golgi tendon organ activation results in direct inhibition of agonist muscles
  • A reflexive reciprocal inhibition occurs at the antagonistic muscles
  • As the patient relaxes, agonist and antagonist muscles remain inhibited allowing the joint to be moved further into the restricted range of motion.

Despite the many claims made regarding the efficacy of these techniques, there are only two peer-reviewed studies that have shown that muscle energy techniques can significantly decrease disability and improve functionality in patients with disorders such as low back pain.[4][5]

Muscle energy techniques can be employed to reposition a dysfunctional joint and treat the affected musculature. Indications include, but are not limited to: muscular shortening, low back pain, pelvic imbalance, edema, limited range of motion, somatic dysfunction, respiratory dysfunction, cervicogenic headaches, and many others.[citation needed]

These techniques are inappropriate when a patient has injuries such as fractures, avulsion injuries, severe osteoporosis, open wounds, or has metastatic disease.

Muscle energy techniques can be applied to most areas of the body.According to one textbook, each technique requires 8 essential steps:[3]

  1. Perform and obtain an accurate structural diagnosis.
  2. Engage the restrictive barrier in as many planes as possible.
  3. Physician and patient engage in an unyielding counterforce where the patient’s force matches the physician’s force.
  4. The patient’s isometric contraction has the correct amount of force, the correct direction of effort (away from the restrictive barrier), and the correct duration (5-10 seconds).
  5. Complete relaxation occurs after the muscular effort.
  6. The patient is repositioned into the new restrictive barrier in as many planes as possible.
  7. Steps 3-6 are repeated approximately 3-5 times or until no further improvement in range of motion is observed.
  8. The structural diagnosis is repeated to evaluate if the dysfunction has resolved or improved.


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