Introduction to Strain-Counterstrain Technique

Here at Quince Orchard Medical Center, we like to talk about our clinician “toolbox” – the various techniques and specialized training – that allows us to provide individualized care to each of our patients.  In this article, we’ll discuss one of the “tools” that we use, “Strain-Counterstrain Technique.”  Strain-Counterstrain, also widely known as “positional release,” has been taught exclusively through the Jones Institute and has been practiced by Dr. Lawrence Jones and his colleagues since the mid-1950s.

The hallmark of the Strain-Counterstrain technique is its gentleness.  Purposefully non-traumatic, the Strain-Counterstrain technique reduces pain related to both neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders, making it useful in treating various conditions ranging from acute pain to chronic conditions.  By using passive body positioning and locating “tender points,” muscles in spasm and painful joints are held in positions of comfort while dysfunctional muscles are compressed and restored to their normal operational limits.

During treatment your clinician will hold your body in specific positions for approximately 90 seconds.  The purpose for holding each position is to wait for the muscles to relax, rather than implementing a more active therapy module.  The concept is to deal with the root of the pain as opposed to putting a temporary “bandaid” on the symptoms.

Research conducted by Irwin Korr in the 1970s explained why the Strain-Counterstrain technique works so well.  When a muscle experiences a trauma that causes it to over-stretch, its spindles (sensory receptors within the muscle that primarily detect changes in the length) contract to protect the muscle tissue.  As a result, the muscle can become trapped in a shortened position that, while somewhat functional, is painful and irritated.  Focusing on the specific tender points associated with each of the joints and muscles, the clinician will help shorten the over-stretched or damaged muscle by holding the body in a specified position, allowing it to return to status quo.

When a muscle is relaxed and shortened, it sends signals to the central nervous system, “hey things are OK here, we’re back to normal, nothing to worry about here…”  After that message has been sent, the central nervous system resumes normal functioning because it’s under the assumption that it no longer needs to spasm to protect itself from any type of excessive feedback that it was previously receiving.  As a result, the body begins to function the way it was originally intended, and, thus heals itself.  Relief and restoration is immediate. Pain free movement can be built and restored for the long-term through exercise.

Conditions which can benefit from applying Strain-Counterstrain Technique include Fibromyalgia, TMJ, sports injuries, vehicle accidents, post-surgery, arthritis, headaches, whiplash, pain following a traumatic injury, neck or back pain, and for those individuals who may require more gentle care, such as small children or the elderly.  We’re always happy to discuss the appropriateness of utilizing the Strain-Counterstrain technique during your treatment here with us.

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