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Mechanism: Experimental Approaches to Understanding Acupuncture, Part 1
The clinical benefits of acupuncture are difficult to ignore, but also can be difficult to explain to a Western audience. For nearly 50 years, relentlessly inquisitive scientists and physicians have been working toward a conceptual model to explain acupuncture.
Targeting the Bad Apples in the Bunch
While everyone was focused on the conversion to ICD-10, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services released a new report on chiropractic titled "CMS Should Use Targeted Tactics to Curb Questionable and Inappropriate Payments for Chiropractic Services."
Your Billing Questions Answered
I hear a lot of the following questions: I am afraid I may doing something illegal. I have heard I cannot have different fees for the same service.
Born to Energize the Human Spirit: Recollections of Sig Miller
Sig Miller, longtime executive director of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC), passed away on Sept. 17 after a long battle with cancer.
Tailor-Made Knee Pain: The Sartorius Muscle
A patient was referred to my office after receiving treatment from various providers with no results. The patient was training for the Olympics as a marathon runner and was unable to run or walk without severe medial knee pain.
Footsteps of the Sages: An Apprenticeship with Dr. Kezhan Zhang
When I met Dr. Kezhen Zhang in May 2013, I was his translator and the integrity, creativity, and passion he demonstrated as a practitioner and advocate of the medicine convinced me to travel to Beijing to study with him.
Pro-Con: Swaddling for Newborns
The practice of swaddling has been used for thousands of years and was popular until the 1700s, when it was slowly abandoned by many cultures that considered it old-fashioned or barbaric.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the West
We know acupuncture and Oriental medicine as the indigenous medicine of East Asia; in particular China, Korea and Japan are the countries of origin of this wonderful healing system.
Syncretism: Acupuncture and Public Health in Cuba
"Syncretism" is defined as a union of diverse tenets or practices. On a recent trip to Cuba designed to demonstrate the integration of Traditional Medicine and biomedicine, our group witnessed this union firsthand.
Making Sense of an Increasingly Obvious Conclusion
Where's U.S. health care heading? Like it or not, the list of telltale signs is growing to a point that stands out to even the most myopic observer. Consider this list of facts as you look into the future of health care in the United States:
Chinese Herbs and Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Case Study
"Mary M."* recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Even the former sheriff dropped by to kiss the hand of this diminutive retired teacher, to honor the years she interpreted for him during interviews with Latinas and Latinos.
Diagnose Sprain Injuries in MVA Cases With Dynamic X-Rays (Pt. 1)
Am I the only person to notice hospitals are doing a seemingly insufficient job lately in their initial radiological workup of motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims?
Omega-3 Fish Oil: An Underappreciated Element of Men's Health
As a clinician with many male patients -- and as a man myself -- I am all too aware of the fact that we like to convince ourselves that we are doing great, when that may be the farthest thing from the truth.
It's Time to Review
It is amazing to see the changes that are occurring in the acupuncture profession. Let's look at some of the news and events that have contributed to this growth and awareness.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 1)
It doesn't matter if you come to my practice for pain relief, weight loss, healthy aging or something else. The formula I talk about for each patient's fitness strategy is pretty much the same.
North Carolina Acupuncture Board Files Dry Needling Lawsuit
In early September, the NCALB filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners over the issue of dry needling, a form of acupuncture that uses solid needles to puncture the skin and muscle tissue to relieve pain.
Acupuncture Rising: From Acupuncture Anesthesia to Assisted-IVF, Part 2
Acupuncture's cultural and historical roots go back to the emergence of Chinese civilization. For more than 2,000 years, acupuncture needling has been continuously practiced on the largest population in the world.
Too Many to Remember: Tips to Revive Your Ortho / Neuro Test Skills
When I was at Palmer in the mid-1980s, we were given a set of notes in one of our diagnostic courses. The notes covered approximately 70 orthopedic and neurological tests for various regions of the body.
F4CP Making a High-Impact Impression
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released details of its 2016 strategy, certain elements of which are already in play. The strategy includes ads, posters and other resources available to all F4CP members.
The Modern Application of Ancient Mei Rong
Chinese Medical Cosmetology (Mei Rong) has a well-documented and venerated history dating back to the Qin (221-206 BC) Dynasty.
Dietary Fat and Prostate Cancer: An Important Update
K.M. Di Sebastiano and M. Mourtzakis published a review paper examining the role of dietary fat on prostate cancer development and progression late last year that does a stellar job of summarizing the available data on fat and prostate cancer.
The Concussion-Subluxation Complex
In the Aug. 1, 2014 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, I reviewed some of the literature demonstrating the role of the chiropractic adjustment in post-concussive care.
One Size Does Not Fit All: Exercise and Nutrition According to Your Yin/Yang Body Type
There are countless new exercise and nutrition plans out there, emphasizing the latest ground-breaking research and claiming to revolutionize the way we view health.
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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