Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is a gentle manual therapy intervention that mobilizes joints and relaxes muscles using subtle muscle contractions to relax hypertonic tissue and mobilize joints through active participation of both the therapist and patient. MET is an excellent gentle alternative to traditional thrust manipulation to treat stiff joints and muscle "cramps or spasms" due to overuse or strain. When muscles are hypertonic they will cause the joint to become tight and restricted. In these cases, MET can relax the muscle and release the joint while the patient generally feels a sense of relaxation. During the procedure, the therapist places a patient in a position that is specific to their dysfunction while the patient applies a small and comfortable muscular contraction against the therapist in a precise direction.
For the treatment of muscle contractures (shortened and tight muscles), the affected muscle is gently stretched to it longest pain-free range. The patient then performs a series of 3-5 submaximal muscle contractions of about 5 seconds each. The procedure encourages the muscle to naturally relax and results in improved range of motion and decreased pain related to muscle stiffness.
MET can also be performed in the spine when a joint becomes restricted. The therapist guides the patient to the range of motion just shy of the painful and restricted point, then a series of muscle contractions by the patient are performed against comfortable resistance to help guide the joint in its correct position. This is called direct muscle energy technique. Typical outcomes of muscle energy technique are decreased pain, decreased stiffness, and increased range of motion. Muscle Energy serves as an excellent alternative to traditional thrust manipulation and can be used in combination with thrust when indicated.