One of my favourite techniques, Muscle Energy Technique enables me to create treatment plans that can be specific, pain free, but most importantly, allow the patient/client to be ‘present’ in their own body. The patient takes part in their own recovery, which in my experience can lead to more rapid recovery.
It is important that the therapist “coaches” the patient into making the ‘contraction’ in isolation of a specific muscle, so that they do not recruit other muscles to create the movement.
To create a specific isometric contraction, the secret is to work out just how much resistance you need to give to allow a response within the muscle’s alpha nerves, to deliver a small isolated contraction, allowing the gamma nerves to set a new resting tone.
During my years in clinical practice I have found that the gentleness of the resistance being offered, along with gentle palpation, encourages the client to engage the correct muscles.
Leon Chaitow’s, ‘Muscle Energy Techniques’ and John Gibbons’ ‘Muscle Energy Techniques – A Practical Guide for Physical Therapists‘, both state that one should offer 10-20% resistance. The question I pose is how do we measure this pressure? Patients often don’t understand what 10-20% feels like, or how to measure that movement/contraction.
Tom Hendrickson offers the opinion that, ‘the therapist typically applies only modest pressure requiring only 10-20% of the clients available strength’. He goes on to state, ‘in acute conditions, only a few grams of pressure are required to make a neurological change.’ Hendrickson also goes on to mention, a good cue is ‘don’t let me move you.’ This cue allows the therapist to set the amount of resistance needed to create the correct amount of isometric contraction that will be of benefit. Another cue one can use is ‘match my touch’, which CAN be just a few grams of pressure. This encourages the patient/client not try too hard, during an isometric resistance. I have found that this approach works really well with those patient/clients presenting chronic pain patterns, as well as those patients that play semi-pro sport, where some muscles have become over dominant. For example, when quadriceps override hamstring function, the therapist must coach the client to contract the hamstrings, which neurologically establishes a new resting length on short, tight quadriceps. Thus enabling the tissue to return to correct functional balance.
Therapists attending the workshops facilitated by “Flexible Healing”, over the past eighteen months have requested that we run a series of one day classes, exploring Muscle Energy Technique in greater detail.
Upcoming workshop dates:
15- March 2014
Muscle Energy Technique for the upper quadrant
11- October 2014
Muscle Energy Technique for the lower quadrant
Due to the recent response during the introduction of the Hendrickson Method, led by senior instructor Giles Gamble, delegates attending wondered how they could become involved in this year’s upcoming Practitioner Programme. So, we are proud to announce a level 1 upper quadrant training commencing on the 22-25 September 2013, followed by level 2 upper quadrant training commencing on the 28 September – 1 October 2013.
With any questions or queries, contact Sue Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 01943 461756.