Muscle Energy Technique – Continuing Professional Development

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
or by phone at 01943 461756.

Moving forward

I would like to share with you that I as from the 24th February 2013, I am standing down from the council and reducing the ‘Sue Bennett’ lead workshops.
This is mainly due to the recent financial climate and my need to re-focus my energies with my family.
I will be continuing with the Hendrickson Method Training & Study days, I have one planned for the 12th & 13th of October where we will review the anatomy of the nervous system and investigate how we can apply Hendrickson Method soft tissue mobilisation to best effect
There is to be an ‘Intro to the Hendrickson Method’ this coming May for anyone who may be interested, there will still be a few workshops each year, as I enjoy teaching . Also I am offering individual tutorials from my clinic which available on request.

Book Reviews

Massage and Manual Therapy for Orthopaedic Conditions, 2nd Edition

Thomas Hendrickson  ISBN -10: 0-78179574-5

This book is an essential manual for the clinical massage therapist and sports massage therapist. It introduces massage techniques that promote the alignment of the soft tissue relating to pain and dysfunction. It clearly explains the rationale behind orthopaedic massage, mechanisms of injury to and repair of the soft tissue.

It gives detailed, clear assessment for each region of the body, discusses common injuries. All accompanied with easy to follow instruction with illustrations on how to apply and execute this scientifically based style of massage.

It is like a complete package, maybe a lot of what we already understand, in terms of assessment and MET’s, however, pulled together to bring a comprehensive protocol, this is easy to follow. There are case studies at the end of each chapter that show case testing and therapy work in clinical setting.

It is a great both for the newly qualified and experienced therapist alike.


Soft Tissue Pain and Disability

Rene Cailliet; M.D, pain series.

The ‘Calliet’ books I am sure we all have one on our shelves. I thought it may be useful to revisit. Sometimes old friends can shed new insights. I have the 2nd edition of this book, I find I can dip in and out; the chapters are short and the illustrations simple for me to follow and understand the information. I have found his explanation on the concepts of chronic pain most useful. This is one of the books that helps me with my reflective practice when I am trying to work out a patient’s pain pattern when they present with an acute pain on top of a chronic pain.

Taking the Hendrickson Method to Scotland

I am so pleased to announce that on the invitation of Mary McConnell, who attended an Introduction to the Hendrickson Method, this April, I am taking the Hendrickson Method to Scotland, the 3 day workshop will be held at the Tir na Nog centre, on the banks of Loch Lomond, near Glasgow, on the 16th /17th /18th of November this year. It feels really encouraging that Mary got so much out of the course she would want to take it back home and make it available to fellow therapist.
It is such an honour and joy to create the Hendrickson Method U.K; we have at the moment only 26 qualified H.M practitioners it would be wonderful to have more as I receive enquires form people who have heard of the work, however, there is not a practitioner in their area.
Becoming a Hendrickson Method therapist, gave me techniques to truly unravel patterns of dysfunction, in a pain free way. That has enabled my patients to believe that they can be well, pain free and moving freely. It is Tom’s innovative stokes combined with his wave mobilisation that allows me to treat those in acute pain, to those who are in extreme sensitive chronic pain

Postural Assessment workshop at NLSSM

During May I attended a Postural Assessment workshop at NLSSM –, with Jason Anderson, this is one to be recommended.

I went with the aim of consolidating knowledge, with the hope of a deepening and expanding. Jason was full of passion for his work, and could explain, with such clarity and good humour. His knowledge linked in with the work I have been doing with Tom around Janda’s theories.

I know I am always reflecting about the role of each muscle, in any given movement, are they agonise, antagonist, synergist, I often think that really each muscle plays a supporting role in what ever the action, always trying to keep the structure straight, the skill is working out which muscle is not ‘pulling it’s weight in any given pattern of dysfunction, Jason nicely confirmed my developing thoughts. Well worth the trip to London.