What is Muscle Energy Technique(MET)?

header_metMET is one of the most popular forms of osteopathic manipulative diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis is determined after examining joint position and motion restrictions.  When the diagnosis is made, the practitioner must properly position the joint(finding barriers to movement in 3 different planes) in preparation for the patient’s active isometric muscle contraction.  The practitioner repositions that joint following each controlled contraction to gain motion. It was first described in 1948 by Fred Mitchell, Sr, D.O.* and has been refined over the 60+ years since then. While pain is the most common reason for the patient to seek treatment, MET is specifically directed at joint dysfunction. By resolving these limitations, the practician can successfully improve: somatic dysfunction such as decreased range of motion, edema, muscular hypertonicity, sacroiliac dysfunction, respiratory dysfunction, pain, etc.

Since the treatment is directed at engaging motion restriction directly, it is categorized in the family of direct techniques with high velocity thrust technique.  But it is far more gentle and does not carry the risk of injury found with thrust technique.

Physiological mechanism: The isometric contraction is known to produce the following physiologic changes:

  • Golgi tendon organ activation results in direct inhibition of agonist muscles
  • A reflexive reciprocal inhibition occurs at the antagonistic muscles
  • As the patient relaxes, agonist and antagonist muscles remain inhibited allowing the joint to be moved further into the restricted range of motion.

It is also theorized that the controlled contraction causes the evacuation of metabolites that could maintain muscle fibers in a dysfunctional hypertonic state.

*“Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology”. American Association of CollegesOsteopathic      Medicine. April 2009. p. 28.

Available Research

Mahajan R, Kataria C, Bansal K 2012 Comparative Effectiveness of Muscle Energy Technique and Static Stretching for Treatment of Subacute Mechanical Neck Pain. International Journal of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences  1 (1), 16-24

Selkow NM, Grindstaff TL, Cross KM, Pugh K, Hertel J, Saliba S. 2009 Short‐term effect of muscle energy technique on pain in individuals with non‐specific lumbopelvic pain: a pilot study. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy 17(1):E14‐18

Fryer G, Ruszkowski W 2004 The influence of contraction duration in muscle energy technique applied to the atlanto-axial joint. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine 7(2).

Ballantyne, Fiona; Fryer, Gary; McLaughlin, Patrick 2003. “The effect of muscle energy technique on hamstring extensibility: The mechanism of altered flexibility”. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine 6 (2): 59–63

Lenehan K L, Fryer G, McLaughlin P 2003 The effect of muscle energy technique on gross trunk range of motion. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine 6(1): 13-18

Wilson E, Payton O, Donegan-Shoaf L et al 2003 Muscle energy technique in patients with acute low back pain: a pilot clinial trial. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 33: 502-512

Schenk R J, MacDiarmid, Rousselle J 1997 The effects of muscle energy technique on lumbar range of motion. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy 5(4): 179-183

Schenk R J, Adelman K, Rousselle J 1994 The effects of muscle energy technique on cervical range of motion. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy 2((4): 149-155

Brodin H 1982 Lumbar treatment using the muscle energy technique. Osteopathic Annals 10(12): 23-24

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