Strain – Counter Strain

by: Sharon Hopkins

Strain – Counter Strain is a manual massage technique for relieving musculoskeletal spasms and pain. It is also known as Positional Release. This technique was developed by Dr. Lawrence Jones, an osteopathic doctor in 1981. It is a gentle and safe technique that relieves spinal or other joint pain by passively shortening the affected muscle areas.

How does Strain – Counter Strain work

Our bodies are not designed to function optimally in the concrete jungles that we live in these days. Years of living in these conditions puts a lot of strain on our body parts due to unnatural movements and incorrect postures.

This strain on our joints leads to the development of painful tender spots. Strain / Counter Strain identifies these tender points and helps to alleviate the pain that they cause.

During a session of therapy, the practitioner uses palpation to identify the tender points on the patient’s body. Once the practitioner has identified these tender points he or she corrects the dysfunction by using the appropriate strain/counter strain technique. The practitioner achieves this by gently holding the affected muscle in a passively shortened position for about ninety seconds.

When the muscle is held in this position, it is gradually returned to its original resting position and length. In this condition, the muscle is stronger and less tender. The proprioceptor nerves register this change in the position of the muscle and enable it to remain at this neutral position even when the force applied by the practitioner has been removed.

This system of strain / counter strain is continued until the affected area is in harmony with the rest of the body and the pain associated with this imbalance is gone.

Benefits of Strain – Counter Strain

Strain / Counter Strain techniques help to alleviate pain and discomfort in muscles and joints and help to restore full range of movement to these affected areas. They have been effectively used to treat post-injury pain and speed up the recovery process for professional sports persons. Strain / Counter strain is also very useful for treating people with whiplash injuries.

Due to its gentle and safe nature strain / counter strain has also been used to treat children and the elderly.

It has proved to be very successful when used in conjunction with more traditional forms of medicine to speed up the long-drawn process of post-physical trauma rehabilitation and recovery.

It is also widely used to treat conditions such as chronic back pain, neck pain, musculoskeletal pain, and fibromyalgia.

Sharon Hopkins features articles in, your online massage guide to rejuvenate and revitalize your mind and body. She also writes for other sites on Yoga, Hair-n-Skin-Care, Massage Therapy among others.