MET is, without doubt, one of my favourite forms of treatment. It is a manual therapy whereby gentle muscular contractions (against an applied force provided by myself) are used to relax/lengthen muscles, normalise joint motion and promote the body’s own healing mechanisms. It is a very safe technique, easy to apply and can be used on almost every joint in the body. There are two types of MET:
Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR). An Isometric contraction occurs when there is no change in the length of the muscle being activated. So in the case of PIR, I will ask you to contract a muscle, using a small amount of force in a specific direction, against a resistance applied by myself. Immediately after you have finished contracting the muscle, we have approximately 20-25 seconds of this relaxation phase in which we can move the muscle tissues into a new resting length.
Reciprocal Inhibition (RI). When you contract a specific muscle the opposing muscle relaxes. For instance, if I wanted to relax the hamstrings (back of the thigh), I’d contract the quadriceps (front of the thigh). This is, basically, how RI works. This type of MET is particularly useful if this muscle is injured and has a limited range-of-motion.