What is Strain and Counter-strain?
Strain and counter-stain is a non-traumatic manual therapy technique that can be used on a large population of musculoskeletal pain patients. Strain and counter-strain, originally called “positional release technique,” was developed in 1955 by an osteopathic physician named Lawrence Jones. In observing a skilled Strain and counter-strain practitioner you will immediately be impressed with how gentle and non-traumatic this technique is for treating the painful patient. A clinician is quickly able to assess the entire body for areas of pain and dysfunction and the involvement of the patient in assisting to guide the clinician’s movement of their body enhances the therapeutic benefit of the treatment. Let’s explore how this innovative system works and who can benefit from this gentle technique.
How does it work?
Strain and counter-strain is a manual therapy technique, meaning the clinician uses only their hands, to treat muscle and joint pain and dysfunction. It uses passive body positioning of spasmed muscles and dysfunctional joints toward positions of comfort or tissue ease that compress or shorten the offending structure. The purpose of movement toward shortening is to relax aberrant reflexes that produce the muscle spasm forcing immediate reduction of tone to normal levels. This allows the joints influenced by the now relaxed muscle to function optimally increasing its range of motion and easing muscle pain. Strain and counter-strain is an effective but extremely gentle technique because its action for treatment moves the patient’s body away from the painful, restricted directions of motion.
Who can benefit?
Strain and counter-strain has an extremely broad application for physical ailments and can be used for the very acute traumas (i.e., sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, ankle sprains, post-surgical, etc.) to the more chronic (i.e., osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, TMJ pain, headaches, etc.). Its value with the acute patient is unmatched because it is so gentle and non-traumatic. The clinician is guided by what feels good to the patient and often dramatic changes are made in decreased pain, muscle guarding, and swelling. These changes facilitate the patient’s healing processes for a faster and complete recovery. The gentleness of strain and counter-strain makes it safe and effective for treating fragile patients (i.e., infants with torticollis, elderly patients with osteoporosis, stress fractures, pregnancy or pelvic pain patients, post-operative pain, etc.) and the pain associated with excessive joint motion or hyper-mobility. Strain and counter-strain is valuable for the chronic pain patient because it will treat out a longstanding neuromuscular problem reducing the tone of a muscle in spasm. By diminishing the spasm, muscle pain is abated and joint function is normalized.