Muscle Energy Technique (MET) is a form of manual therapy which uses a muscle’s own energy in the form of gentle isometric contractions to relax the muscles via autogenic or reciprocal inhibition and lengthen the muscle. As compared to static stretching which is a passive technique in which the therapist does all the work, MET is an active technique in which the patient is also an active participant. MET is based on the concepts of Autogenic Inhibition and Reciprocal Inhibition. If a sub-maximal contraction of the muscle is followed by stretching of the same muscle it is known as Autogenic Inhibition MET, and if a submaximal contraction of a muscle is followed by stretching of the opposite muscle then this is known as Reciprocal Inhibition MET.
Medical Definition of autogenic. 1: autogenous. 2: of or relating to any of several relaxation techniques that actively involve the patient (as by self-hypnosis, meditation, or biofeedback) in attempts to control physiological variables (as body temperature and blood pressure) autogenic training.
What does autogenic inhibition mean?
Autogenic inhibition (historically known as the inverse myotatic reflex or autogenetic inhibition) refers to a reduction in excitability of a contracting or stretched muscle, that in the past has been solely attributed to the increased inhibitory input arising from Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) within the same muscle.
What MET Stretching?
Popularly known simply as MET, the muscle energy technique is a form of stretching commonly used by sports massage therapists, sports therapists, osteopaths, and some physiotherapists, chiropractors, and fitness professionals.
Autogenic and Reciprocal Inhibition
Autogenic and reciprocal inhibition both occur when certain muscles are inhibited from contracting due to the activation of the Golgi tendon organ (GTO) and the muscle spindles. These two musculotendinous proprioceptors located in and around the joints and muscles respond to changes in muscle tension and length, which helps manage muscular control and coordination.
The GTO, located between the muscle belly and its tendon, senses increased tension when the muscle contracts or stretches. When the muscle contracts, the GTO is activated and responds by inhibiting this contraction (reflex inhibition) and contracting the opposing (antagonist) muscle group. This process is known as autogenic inhibition.
The GTO response plays an important role in flexibility. When the GTO inhibits the (agonist) muscle’s contraction and allows the antagonist muscle to contract more readily, the muscle can be stretched further and easier. Autogenic inhibition is often seen during static stretchings, such as during a low-force, long-duration stretch. After 7 to 10 seconds, muscle tension increases and activates the GTO response, causing the muscle spindle in the stretched muscle to be inhibited temporarily, which makes it possible to stretch the muscle further.
The muscle spindle is located within the muscle belly and stretches along with the muscle itself. When this occurs, the muscle spindle is activated and causes a reflexive contraction in the agonist’s muscle (known as the stretch reflex) and relaxation in the antagonist’s muscle. This process is known as reciprocal inhibition.
Post Isometric Relaxation (PIR)
Post Isometric Relaxation is a technique developed by Karel Lewitt [.Post Isometric Relaxation (PIR) is the effect of the decrease in muscle tone in a single or group of muscles, after a brief period of submaximal isometric contraction of the same muscle. PIR works on the concept of autogenic inhibition.
The PIR technique is performed as follows[:
- The hypertonic muscle is taken to a length just short of pain, or to the point where resistance to movement is first noted.
- A submaximal (10-20%) contraction of the hypertonic muscle is performed away from the barrier for between 5 and 10 seconds and the therapist applies resistance in the opposite direction. The patient should inhale during this effort.
- After the isometric contraction of the patient is asked to relax and exhale while doing so. Following this, a gentle stretch is applied to take up the slack till the new barrier.
- Starting from this new barrier, the procedure is repeated two or three times.
Post Facilitation Stretch (PFS)
Post Facilitation Stretch (PFS) is a technique developed by Janda [. This technique is more aggressive than PIR but is also based on the concept of autogenic inhibition.
The PFS technique is performed as follows:
- The hypertonic and shortened muscle is placed between a fully stretched and a fully relaxed state.
- The patient is asked to contract the agonist using a maximum degree of effort for 5–10 seconds while the therapist resists the patient’s force.
- The patient is then asked to relax and release the effort, whereas the therapist applies a rapid stretch to a new barrier and is held for 10 seconds.
- The patient relaxes for approximately 20 seconds and the procedure is repeated between three to five times and five times more.
- Instead of starting from a new barrier, the muscle is placed between a fully stretched and a fully relaxed state before every repetition.
Reciprocal Inhibition MET
Reciprocal Inhibition MET is different from the above two techniques in that it involves the contraction of one muscle followed by stretching of the opposite muscle, because contrary to PIR and PFS, Reciprocal Inhibition MET is the name implies is based on the concept of Reciprocal Inhibition.
The Reciprocal Inhibition MET technique is performed as follows:
- The affected muscle is placed in a mid-range position.
- The patient pushes towards the restriction/barrier whereas the therapist completely resists this effort (isometric) or allows a movement towards it (isotonic).
- This is followed by relaxation of the patient along with exhalation, and the therapist applies a passive stretch to the new barrier.
- The procedure is repeated between three to five times and five times more.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
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