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Muscle Energy Technique (MET)

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

What is MET?


MET was developed in the forties and is a type of manual osteopathic treatment, used widely by sports, remedial and other manual therapists. It is useful in breaking down fibrous adhesions, lengthening and strengthening muscles and helping to normalise joint range. 


"Muscle energy technique (MET) is a type of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) developed by Fred Mitchell, Sr, D.O., in 1948, designed to improve musculoskeletal function through mobilizing joints and stretching tight muscles and fascia, to reduce pain, and to improve circulation and lymphatic flow.” (Waxenbaum and Lu, 2021).


What to expect from MET


Unlike other advanced massage techniques, such as Soft Tissue Release (STR) and Connective Tissue Massage (CTM) that rely on the therapist to apply movements, MET differs with the client creating most of the movement themselves.


According to Mel Cash in his book Soft Tissue Manipulation: “ A muscle energy technique is one which the patient’s own effort and movement, rather than that of the therapist, provides the primary force in treating the problem.” (Cash, 1996).


MET is carried out towards the end of a treatment when tissue has been warmed up. There are many types of MET techniques but two of the most popular are post-isometric (PIR) and reciprocal inhibition (RI).

The method of application for these are:


• Test Range of Motion (ROM) in an area to check what is normal for the client.


• Follow by lengthening the target muscle to the the point of bind or the comfort barrier of client and ease off slightly.


• The client is then asked to contract (either isometrically PIR or antagonist RI) the muscle up to 25 percent, against resistance applied by the therapist.


• The contraction, is held for 10 seconds and then the target muscle stretched further.


• This is repeated for three times with the final stretch being held for 30 seconds.


• If RI method is used -  the client contracts the antagonist muscle, which will have a relaxation effect on the opposite muscle. The RI method is useful when dealing with the subacute stage of an injury. It allows for lengthening of the injured muscle by getting the client to focus on the opposing muscle.


Benefits of MET


In a number of studies investigating the effectiveness of the technique the potential benefits of MET were highlighted and ranged from increased flexibility, pain relief and the lengthening of certain muscles.


In an examination into flexibility, MET was used to see if it could increase movement in the hamstring. The results concluded that flexibility may be improved with MET.  "The results of this study indicated that MET may improve hamstring flexibility as well as its stiffness.” (Azizi et al., 2019).


In another study which looked at both MET and strain counterstrain (SCS) techniques for acute low back pain (LBP), it was concluded that both techniques helped reduce pain. “Muscle energy technique (MET) and strain–counterstrain (SCS) technique are found to be effective as a sole treatment of acute low back pain (LBP)…” (Patel, Eapen, Ceepee and Kamath, 2018).


Following a six week study using MET to determine if female swimmers would benefit from improvements in resting pectoralis minor length ( PML), it was concluded that MET was beneficial. “Our results indicate that 6 weeks of MET treatments applied to the pectoralis minor of asymptomatic female swimmers provided improvements in PML and forward scapular position compared with a control group.” (Laudner et al., 2015).


Conclusion


We use a wide range of massage techniques and treatments at our clinic, including MET. As a massage therapist MET is an effective technique that works well alongside other forms of massage. It is an excellent system to apply after other massage techniques, towards the end of a treatment.


For more information email infoholistichealthmatters@gmail.com or visit us at www.holistic-healthmatters.com to book your appointment.






Bibliography

Azizi, M., Shadmehr, A., Malmir, K., Ghotbi, N. and Pour, Z., 2019. The Pilot Study of the Immediate Effect of Muscle Energy Technique on Flexibility and Stiffness in Healthy Young Females. [online] Jmr.tums.ac.ir. Available at: <https://jmr.tums.ac.ir/index.php/jmr/article/view/184> [Accessed 28 November 2021].


Cash, M., 1996. Sports And Remedial Massage Therapy. London: Ebury Press, p. 205.


Laudner, K., Wenig, M., Selkow, N., Williams, J. and Post, E., 2015. Forward Shoulder Posture in Collegiate Swimmers: A Comparative Analysis of Muscle - Energy Techniques. [online] NCBI. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4732392/> [Accessed 28 November 2021].


Patel, V., Eapen, C., Ceepee, Z. and Kamath, R., 2018. Effect of muscle energy technique with and without strain-counterstrain technique in acute low back pain - A randomized clinical trail. [online] NCBI. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6385547/> [Accessed 28 November 2021].


Waxenbaum, J. and Lu, M., 2021. Physiology, Muscle Energy. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559029/> [Accessed 28 November 2021].

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