Muscle Tightness: Do you have stiff muscles?

Do your muscles feel tight? Do you have stiffness in your body?  You're not alone, muscular stiffness and tightness is one of the most common problems we encounter..  Osteopaths unlike any other manual therapy have a very unique method in assisting your tightness. It’s called Counterstrain or Positional Release. 

"The MET method works due to the natural neurological impulse to relax the opposing  muscle  when one  muscle  contracts. Used correctly,  Muscle Energy Technique  can  help  patients to: Realign  muscle  groups. Re-educate  muscles  to restore a full range of motion." -OVCMT

"The MET method works due to the natural neurological impulse to relax the opposing muscle when one muscle contracts. Used correctly, Muscle Energy Technique can help patients to: Realign muscle groups. Re-educate muscles to restore a full range of motion." -OVCMT

When there is a strain, or tension in your muscles this sensation is transmitted to your brain as a message. Your brain will then respond to this message by adding further muscle tightness to the problem area or surrounding areas as a means of protection.  This response is not always helpful to your health.

One of the great things about Osteopaths is we have many ways of addressing muscle tightness. Techniques like Massage, or joint or muscular stretching (MET), postural correction can potentially assist you with muscle tightness but all these create a therapeutic pain to release the tension. There is however, several ways to skin a cat as they say and Counter-strain offers a very effective pain free alternative to this problem.

An Osteopath using Counter-strain will find the tight area in a region and then positions the body to take all the tension out of these tissues. This results in your nervous system feeding this change back to the brain. It will often take up to one minute for your brain to register that the area isn’t in trouble any more, and that it doesn’t need protecting.

What is the science behind how this works?

There are several nerve endings in your muscles and joints called Golgi Tendon Organs that feedback tension to your brain.  When this same area is placed in a relaxed position the Golgi Tendon Organs also feedbacks this change to the brain.  The brain then responds with feedback of its own, which will result in resetting of the muscular length and a much more relaxed muscle. The beauty of counter strain is that it is, pain free, stress free and it affect the central nervous system which results in a much more permanent and lasting change in the muscle tightness. This can potentially help you feel looser and less tense.

You may never have heard of this type of therapy so why not give [Osteopathy] a go and see if counter-strain can help you!

This article originally appeared on and was written by Katie Nancarrow.