resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
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.
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