When it comes to our muscles, many of us often don’t stretch each muscle group at least two to three times per week. From waking up in the morning, we stretch our arms, legs, and back to relieve any stiffness or soreness from the previous day. However, many individuals deal with musculoskeletal issues that can affect not only the back and the neck but also the upper and lower extremities of the body, causing pain-like symptoms that can worsen throughout the entire day if not treated right away. When this happens, musculoskeletal pain can lead to overlapping risk problems that can cause the body to be misaligned and dysfunctional. Hence why numerous therapies help reduce the effects of musculoskeletal pain and help restore the body naturally. Today’s article looks at how musculoskeletal pain affects the body and how treatments like MET can be used as self-help methods to reduce musculoskeletal pain. We utilize valuable information about our patients to certified medical providers using MET therapy to relieve musculoskeletal pain by incorporating various exercises and stretches. We encourage and refer patients to associated medical providers based on their diagnosis while supporting that education is a remarkable and fantastic way to ask our providers the essential questions at the patient’s acknowledgment. Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., comprises this information as an educational service. Disclaimer
Musculoskeletal Pain Affecting The Body
Are you experiencing muscle stiffness or weakness in your back, neck, or shoulders? Do you feel pain when stretching or hunched over due to discomfort? Musculoskeletal pain is a common issue that can interfere with daily activities. Research studies show that this type of pain can cause symptoms that overlap with neuropathic or visceral pain. This means that problems with one muscle or organ in the body can lead to pain in other areas, causing significant discomfort.
Further research has shown that musculoskeletal pain can originate in the muscle tissues and persist for over three months, affecting many individuals’ social and emotional skills, work productivity, and independence. Several environmental factors like obesity, stress, poor sleep, inadequate nutrition, and lack of physical activity can overwork the muscles and joints, leading to trigger points and muscle strain in the musculoskeletal system, resulting in bodily misalignment.
Improving Athletic Performance Through Chiropractic- Video
Are you experiencing pain in specific areas of your body? Does the pain worsen when you are active or when you stretch? These pains are often associated with musculoskeletal issues, which can greatly affect your daily life. Research studies have revealed that musculoskeletal pain can significantly reduce a person’s productivity and job performance. Fortunately, several treatments are available to alleviate musculoskeletal pain and its symptoms. Many people seek chiropractic care or MET therapy to help realign their spine, stretch their muscles, and improve joint mobility. The video above demonstrates how chiropractic care uses manual manipulation to relieve musculoskeletal pain by stretching the muscles and realigning the spine.
MET Self-Help Methods For Musculoskeletal Pain
According to a book called “Clinical Applications of Neuromuscular Techniques” by Dr. Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O., and Dr. Judith Walker DeLany, L.M.T., musculoskeletal pain can cause the soft tissues in the body to shorten and lead to disability. To alleviate the effects of musculoskeletal pain, people often seek the help of pain specialists such as chiropractors or massage therapists. These specialists often use muscle energy techniques (MET) to stretch the soft tissues and muscles and provide relief. Below are some exercises and techniques that are commonly used in MET therapy.
MET Neck Relaxation Techniques
The neck comprises soft tissues and is part of the musculoskeletal system. Two relaxation techniques can stretch out the shortened muscles to relieve soreness and stiffness in the scalene muscles. These techniques can help release tightness and improve the neck’s range of motion.
- Sit close to the table with the elbows and hands resting on the table surface on each side of the face.
- Turn your head to the right or left as far as you can comfortably in one direction while letting your hands move with your face until you reach a pain-free rotation limit.
- Afterward, use your left hand as resistance when turning your head to the left while using 25% or less of your strength to build up a force to match the resistance and start turning your head slowly.
- Hold this push for 7-1o seconds and slowly stop turning your head to the left or right.
- Return to a neutral position and turn to the right or left again to see how far you can stretch without pain.
- You should notice the neck stretch is farther than it was previously.
This is known as post-isometric relaxation in MET therapy, as it allows the tight muscles to relax and stretch farther without pain than before.
- While lying on the table, the hands and elbows should be on the sides of the face.
- Turn your head to the right to stretch as far as you can comfortably in one direction.
- Use your right hand as resistance to attempt to turn without pain by using only 25% or less of your strength.
- Slowly turn your head and maintain the turn and resistance for 7-10 seconds.
- Slowly stop the resistance effort to see how far your neck can turn without pain. If you are experiencing pain, you use too much strength and reduce the contraction level where no pain is experienced.
This is known as reciprocal inhibition in MET therapy, as it achieves a different release for tight neck muscles.
Flexion Exercises Using MET
Flexion exercises in MET therapy help stretch the postural muscles and legs, feeling stiff. This allows spine flexibility while stretching out and reducing mechanical stresses in the surrounding muscles.
- While sitting on the floor, your legs should be straight out, and your toes pointed towards the ceiling.
- Bend comfortably as far as you can and grasp one leg with each hand.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds and do four deep breathing cycles while allowing your head to hang down and relax into the stretch. *You will feel the stretch on your lower back and the back of your legs.
- As you release during the fourth breathing cycle, ease yourself further down the legs and hold for another 30 seconds.
- After 30 seconds, slowly return to an upright position by lightly pushing upwards from the hands.
Alternatively, you can bend one leg and do the same sequence on each leg to stretch out any leg muscles that are cramping or stiff. This flexion exercise help reduces pain and prevents trigger points from re-forming in the muscle fibers.
Extension Exercises Using MET
The extension exercises in MET therapy help the muscles and joints in the body group to increase movement without pain. This allows the body to be mobile and reduces the effects of musculoskeletal pain.
- Lie on your stomach on a carpeted floor with a pillow to support your head and neck while your legs are together.
- Bend your knees as comfortably as possible, and bring your heels towards your backside.
- Now slowly grasp your legs and gently bend backward as far as possible without pain. Your back should be slightly arched.
- Lift your head and shoulders gently to increase the arch in your back slowly and without pain.
- Hold the position for four slow deep breaths, and hold your breath for 15 seconds on the last breathing cycle.
- As you release, bring your body down slowly, from the legs to the stomach and finally, the shoulders and neck to rest.
This extension exercise, known as the boat position, helps lengthen and stretch the back and leg muscles while reducing pain and restoring mobility in the spine.
It is crucial to be aware of musculoskeletal pain in your body, whether in the morning or during work. This type of pain can lead to discomfort in other areas and even impair your ability to function. Fortunately, MET therapy can alleviate musculoskeletal pain by stretching the muscles and tissues and providing immediate relief. By utilizing stretching and physical therapy, you can help your body heal naturally and be more mindful of what triggers pain. Stretching can also prevent future injuries and promote a pain-free lifestyle.
Buck, Rhiannon, et al. “Working with Musculoskeletal Pain.” Reviews in Pain, June 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590039/.
Chaitow, Leon, and Judith Walker DeLany. Clinical Applications of Neuromuscular Techniques. Churchill Livingstone, 2003.
El-Tallawy, Salah N, et al. “Management of Musculoskeletal Pain: An Update with Emphasis on Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain.” Pain and Therapy, June 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8119532/.
Puntillo, Filomena, et al. “Pathophysiology of Musculoskeletal Pain: A Narrative Review.” Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, 26 Feb. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934019/.
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The information herein on "Biomechanical Self-Help Methods Using MET" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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