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Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
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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