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The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
April, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 04
Stretching the Limits of Your Massage
By Teresa A. Schmidt, DPT, MS, OCS, LMT, CEAS, CHy
Massage therapists are in demand to serve the growing population of aging clients. To accomplish this goal, therapists must enhance their skills for improving mobility using evidence-based techniques.Muscle energy techniques (MET) have been used for almost 50 years to reduce abnormal muscle tension and to improve mobility. MET is a versatile intervention that may be employed to treat clients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions. MET was initially described within the osteopathic profession by Drs. T.J. Ruddy and Fred Mitchell.1,2 During the same period, Knott and Voss were developing the Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Technique in physical therapy.3 MET was later refined by several practitioners including Drs. Greenman, Lewit, Yale, Digiovanna, Stiles and Goodridge.1,4-7 Modern MET has been incorporated into multiple disciplines including massage, with the work of McAtee and Charland's active stretching and Mattes' Active Isolated Stretching (AIS).1,8 Dr. Leon Chaitow presents a contemporary overview of MET in his text, Muscle Energy Techniques.1
Massage clients often present with muscle spasm, painful trigger points, and limited range of motion (ROM). MET may be used during a massage session to enhance outcomes of improved mobility and comfort for clients. Evidence-based research indicates the value of MET in improving flexibility in clients of all ages, including rehab clients and the fragile elderly. Schiowitz reported that subjects with neck motion restrictions had a significant increase in cervical ROM after treatment with MET, as compared to a sham control group.10 Wilson et al. reported a significant improvement in function and decrease in disability in patients with low back pain treated with MET compared to those treated with traditional exercise and neuromuscular re-education alone.11 Contemporary muscle energy techniques are a part of interdisciplinary patient care, usually combined with manual therapy, massage and exercise.
There are various stretching approaches described by MET practitioners. Each approach has its benefits. Most utilize the effect of post-isometric stretching, in which the involved short muscle (the agonist) is isometrically resisted, followed by passive or active stretching of the agonist by activation of the antagonist and/or passive movement by the practitioner. In PNF, this is known as contract-relax and hold-relax.1,3,8 Two types of MET have been described: post-isometric relaxation (PIR) and reciprocal inhibition (RI).1,5,6
In PIR, the short agonist muscle is activated with a gentle resisted isometric contraction for up to 10 seconds, followed by relaxation and passive stretching into the motion barrier within the tolerance of the client. The isometric contraction of the short agonist loads the proprioceptive Golgi tendon organ (GTO) within the agonist, causing a reflexive relaxation of the muscle. (GTOs inhibit contraction via the Ib afferent fibers to the spinal cord and efferent motor neuron.) After an active contraction, there is a short latency period within which the short agonist is inhibited. In physiology, this is called the refractory period, which lasts about 15 seconds.1
Activation of the long antagonist also inhibits the short agonist by reciprocal inhibition. For example: When the flexors are activated, there is an automatic inhibition of the extensors by reflex action at the spinal cord level. It is useful to activate the antagonist during the stretch to take advantage of the relaxation response of reciprocal inhibition. Exhalation is often used during the stretching period to enhance the relaxation effect. If the client activates the long antagonist, the effect of the short agonist's stretch reflex will also be reduced. The combination yields a significant increase in the length of the agonist.10
Key features of effective MET stretches are the use of precise control of the joint being moved, specific resistance intensity to avoid damaging the muscle being stretched, and accurate timing of the stretch to begin after the short muscle has relaxed. MET has been shown to be effective in reducing hypertonicity, increasing ROM, and decreasing disability and pain.1
To summarize, the steps to perform basic post-isometric relaxation MET with reciprocal inhibition are as follows:
Case Report: Maggie is a 57-year-old female with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis onset 2 weeks ago due to walking in a fundraiser for 5 miles. (She is used to walking up to one mile daily, but does no other exercise.) She complains of pain upon weight-bearing on both feet, especially after prolonged sitting and upon awakening. Pain decreases once she is walking for 20 minutes. She has custom orthotics for pronated feet, which she wears regularly. She is taking Ibuprofen 400 mg for pain.
Palpation reveals trigger points on both gastrocnemius heads bilaterally, calcaneii and plantar fascia, pain scale 8/10. Range of motion (ROM) is limited in ankle dorsiflexion from 0-10 degrees, (normal is 0-20 degrees). Muscle strength is 3+/5 is bilateral plantarflexors. Gait is short in step length with early heel rise.
Intervention consisted of massage to both feet and lower legs to improve circulation and relax musculature, muscle energy (contract-relax/PIR) to each gastroc/soleus complex for five reps, followed by full passive stretch with and without extended knees to increase ROM. The range of motion increased by 7 degrees in ankle dorsiflexion, pain reduced to 2/10 post-intervention. Outcomes were favorable on this initial visit. Client was instructed in home stretching and conditioning program and self-massage. Therapy will continue twice weekly for three weeks to achieve full ROM and normal strength and function of both feet.
Important Note: MET may result in some delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Modify the force and position for each client based on their individual response. Clients may be instructed in the use of ice to diminish DOMS. Practitioners may teach clients to perform their own home programs of MET stretches. There are strengthening programs using MET as well as joint mobilization techniques using MET for advanced practitioners. For more information on MET, review the references and Web sites provided at the end of this article.
The versatility and clinical efficacy of MET makes it a valuable addition to rehabilitation programs for clients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions across the lifespan. Learn to master these skills to make a real difference to your clients and to your practice.
Editor's note: All photographs in this article are the property of Educise Resources Inc.
Theresa A. Schmidt is a board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy, massage therapist, personal trainer, certified ergonomic assessment specialist, and clinical hypnotherapist. Dr. Schmidt is founder and president of Flex Physical Therapy in Long Island, NY. She has served as faculty of Physical Therapy at Touro College and adjunct professor at CUNY Queens College and Nassau Community Colleges. Dr. Schmidt founded Educise Resources Inc., a professional continuing education and health enhancement company. She can be reached through www.educise.com.
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