resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
September, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 09
Advanced Stretching: Using Neural Inhibition to Enhance the Stretch, Part 1
By Joseph E. Muscolino, DC
There is an art and a science to practicing manual and movement therapies. The science yields a set of guidelines that provide the structure for our therapy. We develop this science as an extension of our understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology of the body.The art of our practice involves how we apply and combine these guidelines for the optimal treatment of the client who is on our table. As an artist, the medium of the client's body that we primarily work upon is the myofascial system of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other dense and loose fascial structures. We could look upon this myofascial system as the canvas upon which we work.
One of the major objectives of a massage therapist is to loosen these soft myofascial tissues when they become taut. Taut tissues may be overly contracted muscles. They may also be musculature or other soft tissues that have accumulated fascial adhesions. The problem with taut soft tissues is that they decrease flexibility of the body. Whenever a joint moves in one direction, soft tissues on the "other side of the joint" need to lengthen to allow this motion to occur. Taut soft tissues do not lengthen, therefore they limit motion of the body.
Massage therapy treats these taut tissues by the use of soft tissue manipulation. This manipulation is often direct as in the case of actual massage strokes such as gliding, kneading and compression. The use of hot and cold therapy can also be used. Another extremely effective treatment option, and one that is within the scope of practice of massage therapists, is stretching. When combined with heat and massage therapy, stretching can make a critical difference in the progress of our clients.
Stretching is essentially a mechanical process wherein we place a tension (pulling) force into the client's body, causing a lengthening of the target soft tissues. Although standard stretching performed in this manner often works quite well, there are advanced stretching options that are usually more effective. (With all forms of stretching, it is critically important that the force of the stretch is never excessive, or a muscle spindle reflex may be triggered that results in spasming of the muscle, defeating the purpose of the stretch.)
Advanced Stretching Techniques
The most commonly practiced type of advanced stretching technique is one in which a neurologic reflex is used to inhibit, in other words, relax the target muscle that is being stretched. Creating neural inhibition then allows greater stretch of the musculature when the mechanical tensile force of the stretch is applied. There are two types of advanced neural inhibition stretching techniques: contract relax (CR) and agonist contract (AC). (We will discuss AC stretching in-depth in Part 2 of this series.)
Contract Relax (CR) Stretching
CR stretching is also known as postisometric relaxation (PIR) stretching. AC stretching is the basis for Aaron Mattes' Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) technique. Both CR and AC stretching are often described as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) because they utilize a proprioceptive neuromuscular reflex to facilitate the stretch.
CR Stretching: The basis of CR stretching is the Golgi tendon organ (GTO) reflex. GTOs are proprioceptive receptors that are located in the tendons of a muscle and are sensitive to stretch. If a muscle belly contracts forcefully, it pulls on and stretches its tendon; this stretching force is detected by the GTO. If the muscle belly contracts too forcefully, the tendon might be torn; therefore the role of the GTO is to protect the tendon by monitoring the stretch forces that are placed on it. The GTO prevents tearing of the tendon by sending a signal into the spinal cord that triggers the GTO reflex, which then inhibits the muscle from contracting, in other words relaxing it. We can make use of the GTO reflex to more effectively stretch a muscle.
CR stretching is performed by asking the client to contract the target muscle to trigger the GTO reflex. We then ask the client to relax and we stretch the target muscle, taking advantage of the increased relaxation (inhibition of the muscle) caused by the GTO reflex. The usual CR stretching protocol steps are carried out as follows. The right lateral flexor (RLF) group of the neck is used as our target musculature in this example (Fig. 1):
a. Have the client begin in a neutral starting position.
b. "Pre-stretch" the client into left lateral flexion (LLF) until the beginning of tension is felt.
c. Ask the client to gently isometrically contract the RLF target musculature against your resistance for approximately 5-8 seconds to trigger the GTO reflex. The client can either exhale or hold in the breath during this step. When providing resistance, it is important to not push against the client, but rather to simply meet and resist whatever contraction force the client is creating.
d. Have the client relax, wait a split second, and then further stretch the client into LLF. This completes one repetition. Typically 3 to 4 repetitions are done, each one beginning at the end (stretched) position of the previous repetition; and the client is asked to increase the force of contraction with each repetition. Although CR stretching usually involves isometric contraction, the client could be allowed to concentrically contract the muscle instead. Also, even though each repetition most often begins where the previous repetition ended, it is possible to ease off the stretch and begin the next repetition from a less-stretched position. What is important with CR stretching is that the target muscle contracts with sufficient strength so that the GTO reflex is triggered.
Clinically, the choice to use standard mechanical stretching or to employ an advanced technique such as CR stretching should be made based on the needs of the client on the table. Any stretch can be converted into a CR stretch.
As a clinical therapist, it is important to have as many treatment tools in our tool chest as possible. CR stretching does require participation on the part of the client; and generally there is a learning curve for both the therapist and client to become efficient and smooth when performing it. However, once the protocol becomes familiar, it is quite easy to employ and incorporate into the treatment session. CR stretching is especially valuable when working on clients who have not responded well to massage and standard stretching. If you have not yet worked with CR stretching, try adding this tool to your practice.
Part two of this article explores the other advanced neural inhibition stretch, agonist contract (AC) stretching. It also compares CR with AC stretching, and discusses the contract relax agonist contract (CRAC) stretching technique.
Joseph E. Muscolino, DC, has been a massage therapy educator for 24 years, teaching both core curriculum and continuing education classes. He currently teaches anatomy and physiology at Purchase College, SUNY. He is the owner of The Art and Science of Kinesiology in Stamford, Conn., and is the author of The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual, with Trigger Points, Referral Zones, and Stretching; The Muscular System Manual, 3rd edition; and Kinesiology, The Skeletal System and Muscle Function, 2nd edition (Elsevier, 2009, 2010, 2010), as well as other publications. For more information or to contact Joseph, visit www.learnmuscles.com.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.