Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is among the most valuable techniques that any Chiropractor or other manual clinician can have in their tool box. It can be applied effectively to a wide range of problems including muscle tightness or hypertonicity and also to joint dysfunction including joint capsule adhesions.
One of the advantages of Muscle Energy Technique is that it is a very gentle technique and so is a very different way of working to using a thrust technique. It may be that MET may be particularly appreciated by the apprehensive patient or acute patient or in other cases where the use of a thrust technique seems best avoided.
Another benefit of MET is that the patient is actively involved in the treatment process. An essential ingredient in the successful management of any musculoskeletal problem is the gradual empowering of the patient to take charge of their recovery. In MET, the patient is not a passive recipient of treatment but is radically involved – gently contracting muscles as requested by the Chiropractor, relaxing the contraction on request, breathing, even making eye movements and so on.
Let us look now at the history of MET.
MET evolved in osteopathy in the late 1950s from the work of osteopath Fred Michell. In 1961, Osteopath TJ Ruddy introduced a “pulsed” variation. MET was further developed by medical and physiotherapy specialists including Jull and Janda in 1987, Janda again in 1993 and Karel Lewit MD in 1999. Within the Chiropractic profession an early adopter and innovator was Chiropractic Doctor Craig Liebenson who also did much to promote the use of MET by Chiropractors.
MET is based on the idea that a muscle will relax to the maximum amount possible immediately after it has been contracted. So, the Chiropractor (or other health care provider) will ask the patient to push against something gently. Immediately after this isometric contraction, an attempt will be made to lengthen the muscle.
The contraction should be relatively gentle, say no more than 25% of the strength the patient can apply. Should a contraction of 25% cause the patient an increase in pain, then the patient can push with diminishing power until a pain free contraction can be achieved.
The contraction can be in the direction of movement of the muscle to be lengthened or can be in the opposite direction. Joint restrictions can also be worked by means of an isometric contraction followed by an attempt to increase the joint range of motion.
MET has been most popularised in the manual health care professions by the writings and lecturing of Leon Chaitow DO. In 1994, Chaitow described an integrated treatment sequence which comprised the ischaemic compression of a trigger point (Neuromuscular Technique) followed by placing the involved muscle in a “position of ease” (Positional Release Technique) followed by MET when the muscle is isometrically contracted and then lengthened. Chaitow labelled this comprehensive approach to soft-tissue dysfunction Integrated Neuromuscular Inhibition Technique (INIT).
As an external student at Westminster University, Chiropractor Andrew Hunter was able to study MET with Senior Lecturer Leon Chaitow at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in 2000 and then in 2002.
If you would like to book an appointment to experience Muscle Energy Technique at one of Chiropractor Andrew Hunter’s three London clinics in, Blackheath, City or Canary Wharf, please call 07855 916 602.
Muscle Energy Techniques by Leon Chaitow, Second Edition, 2001 Published by Churchill Livingstone.