Muscle Energy Technique: Simple, Effective and Relaxing
Muscle energy technique (MET) involves you in the solution by asking you to contract the problem muscle against resistance without moving it and then relax. This resets the thermostat, so to speak, of how tight the muscle thinks it's supposed to be. The therapist, or you if doing self treatment, then move the muscle into the resulting new length, and repeat 3-5 times, sometimes more if the muscle continues to relax and lengthen. It is not stretching; the muscle lengthens because it is relaxing.
This method works with the nervous system instead of trying to overpower it. Typical stretching methods work by mechanically forcing the muscle to lengthen, with the result that the results are not as effective, nor as long lasting.
Recently injured muscle, painful spasms, and chronic pain problems respond to this technique because it works with the nervous system. It can be used to normalize joint problems caused by imbalanced muscle shortness, and effectively lengthens the shortened fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds and interlaces muscle. It can also inactivate myofascial trigger points, so it is ideally suited for self treatment of muscle problems.
Self treatment of muscle problems gives you a powerful stress coping skill because you no longer have to tolerate aches and pains that drain you of energy and enthusiasm.
How to do muscle energy technique:
Find a position that targets the problem muscle
The position should allow you to be relaxed and supported
Move the problem muscle to take up the slack of it, where it first resists moving further
If possible use gravity as the resistance to contracting the muscle
Contract the muscle against resistance without moving it
Breathe deeply and concentrate on relaxing during your exhale
If possible, use gravity as encouragement for the muscle to relax and lengthen
Relax and move into the slack that develops
Repeat 3-5 times, or more if the muscle continues to lengthen
Introductory Class for Muscle Energy Technique:
A 20 minute class for horse Eventers at Greenwood Horse Trials, May 4-6, 2012. Class takes you through the small details that make big differences in the results you get, and gives you the basic method to adapt to stretches you already know.
With regular practice, the results can be:
Be more balanced in the stirrups
Good Posture is easier
Have more energy
Feel more comfortable
Cope with stress better
Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is most effective when you can be relaxed and well supported during the process to avoid conflicting muscle tension in the target and closely related muscles that would lessen or prevent lengthening of the target. So part of the solution is finding the right position for working on the problem. "By breathing deeply and slowly, and concentrating on relaxation during exhalation, the patient may reduce trigger point irritability and release associated muscular tension."- Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual.
Return from Muscle Energy Technique to Trigger Point Massage Therapy