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With Low-Back Pain, Sometimes Little Things Matter
Typical treatments for low back pain involve large muscles like the quadratus lumborum, iliopsoas, and piriformis. However, there are situations when a very small muscle, the multifidus, can play a significant role in the diagnosis and treatment of low back muscular or spinal injury.
Holistic Skin Care and Modern Technology
Anti-aging is a concept that we hear in reference to skin rejuvenation and growing older on a daily basis. Aging begins as soon as we are born; therefore "pro-aging" is embracing all stages of life gracefully, with vitality, wisdom, joy, and gratitude as the goal.
How to Reach Your World With the Chiropractic Message
My latest effort to share chiropractic occurred in mid-May while I was sitting at an introductory parent information night for high schoolers. The IT instructor informed us that each student would be receiving a computer for all their studies.
Finger (Pad) Pointing: Repetitive-Use Injury Waiting to Happen
"My wrist and hand hurt. I spend all day working on computers and then I come home and spend more time on a computer, usually playing video games."
One of the most common trends to see in clinical medical practice and public health is the cycles of health "buzzwords." These come and go depending upon the current cultural zeitgeist. One year, "parasites" are causing all the issues, and the next year it's "candida."
Billing One-on-One, Direct Patient Contact
This is often misunderstood and leads to trepidation when documenting and subsequently billing timed services.
Understanding Levels of Evidence
The concept of levels of evidence is a cornerstone of research literacy and a great starting point for understanding basic principles of how research works.
Hip Flexor Contractures & LBP in Above-the-Knee Amputations
Patients with above-the-knee amputations (AK or AKA) are particularly prone to developing hip flexor contractures. Not to be confused with muscle tightness, contractures are a permanent shortening of tissues which cause deformity or distortion.
Transforming Las Vegas
On a warm spring day in Las Vegas, Sonia Kim, clinic front desk staff, is busy preparing for a full day of intern shifts at Wongu Health Center. She greets patients, makes sure documents are properly signed, and lets the interns know that their patients have arrived.
Living Well: Lessons From Our Oldest Old
Aging is a significant public health problem, important to chiropractors in practice and important to DCs who teach students training to become chiropractors.
Constructing Our Reality, Part 2
My last article discussed perception and its relationship to the primary channels. Before we get to the channels most commonly used to treat sensory disturbances, the small intestine and triple heater, we should first talk about the bladder channel.
Low Fat vs. Low Carb & the Power of Protein
A science-based website recently posted a nice summary of 23 randomized, controlled trials from peer-reviewed journals pitting low-carb diets against low-fat diets.
Distal Style Treatment of Neurogenic Pain
Treat locally or distally? This question has frequented my thoughts for the treatment of pain throughout my acupuncture career. Each style has strengths and weaknesses, thus the versatile practitioner would do well to forgo dogmatic adherence to any one style in deference to the needs of the individual patient.
In This Current Age of Anxiety
Anxiety, also referred to angst or hysteria, goes by many names. One, popularized by the sagacious Zhang Zhong Jing, who many practitioners of Chinese Medicine may be familiar with, is known as Restless Zang/Fu disorder.
A Whole-Body Approach to Chronic Tension Headaches
Nearly every day in our practices, we see patients with chronic headaches that have not responded to traditional treatment. They present in our offices with a feeble hope that "maybe" a chiropractor can help.
Building Bridges with Discipline
As practitioners of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, our role is to educate patients and medical practitioners about the various safety aspects of our medicine. Medical doctors that embrace Chinese medicine want to collaborate and include Chinese herbal medicine in more aspects of clinical care to support their patients.
Billing Timed Services
Q: I do not always use physical medicine services but in my state I do have a scope of practice that allows me to provide many of these services. I am trying to understand what "direct one-on-one patient contact" means in relation to physical medicine services.
Streamline Your Front Desk
Your front office can be your greatest source of efficiency or it can be a constant bottleneck. Increasing the productivity of this area, while not sacrificing the quality of patient interaction, can be a little tricky. However, with some focused effort and intention, your front desk can keep your practice running smoothly.
News in Brief
NYCC Aggregates Degree Programs in New School; Palmer Chancellor Receives Education Award From ICA; Oklahaven Announces "Have a Heart" Winners.
A Different Way of Looking at It
The way you and your chiropractic colleagues access information has changed over the past decade. According to a recent survey conducted by Dynamic Chiropractic, almost half (48 percent) of DCs read online articles on their personal computer or laptop daily.
Discovery: Finding Insights and Each Other in Different Disciplines
Recently I've been thinking about all sorts of things which are hidden from our daily direct experience. That general category is what links nearly everything that catches my attention and then demands some kind of investigation.
Prostate Cancer Risk
A large study published in January 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that men who are vegans had a 35% lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to non-vegan men. The study followed more than 26,346 men who are part of the Adventists Health Study-2.
Keeping Malpractice Allegations at Bay
It has been suggested that in the litigious environment in which we live, the practice of chiropractic should be defensive and practitioners should constantly be watching their backs. An element of defensive practice is a good idea.
Sleepless nights, anxiety, mood swings, euphoric energy bursts, obsessive thinking, and a strange feeling in his chest. That is what Matt was experiencing when he first entered my practice. Rather than being concerned, he was loving every minute of it.
Parker University Embraces New Era
Change is in the air at Parker University, which recently announced the selection of both a new president and a new consultant for its seminar program.
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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