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Strain/Counterstrain

posted on December 28, 2016

Strain/counterstrain is a manual massage technique for relieving musculoskeletal spasms and pain, which means that therapists use only their hands to find and reduce chronic and/or acute muscle spasm anywhere in the body. It is a gentle and safe technique that relieves spinal or other joint pain by passive movement of the hypertonic (spasmed) muscle(s) toward shortening. This relaxes aberrant (abnormal) reflexes and forces immediate education of muscle tone to normal levels and increases the range of motion.

How it works:

  • The therapist identifies the muscle in spasm visually or by palpation (feeling around for it).
  • The therapist positions the body into a position of comfort and asks the patient to hold this position for approximately 90 seconds.
  • The therapist slowly brings the patient out of this position, which allows the body to reset its muscles to more normal tension levels.

Some of the conditions that have been known to respond well to strain/counterstrain include:

  • Sciatica
  • Lumbago
  • Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Neuralgia
  • Neuropathy
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Rotator Cuff Impingement
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Chronic Bloating
  • Lymphedema
  • Migraines
  • Palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Vertigo
  • Cervicalgia
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), also known as IT Band Syndrome
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Swelling and Discoloration from Trauma
  • Pre-surgical Preparation
  • Post-injury Recovery
  • Whiplash
  • Neck and Back Pain


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