Strain Counter Strain

Though back spasms that patients experience may be very painful and limiting, contractions of these muscles are an attempt by the body to do good. The muscles of the back have the responsibility of movement of the back and torso, and also of protecting the spine. While the muscles of the back are pulling the spine in one direction, the muscles of the abdomen are pulling the spine in the opposite direction. Together these two forces cancel each other out, and the end result of this pulling is to hold the spine in the erect position, that allows us to stand upright. The muscles of the back may go into spasm as a defense mechanism of the body, for when that muscle, or that area of the body, gets injured. The muscle itself may become injured because of overwork or overstretching. Structures near the muscles, and connected to those muscles, such as the bones, tendons, and synovial joints, may become damaged due to trauma or arthritis. When these bones and soft tissues become damaged, joints become unstable, causing the potential of further injury of the affected structures. To prevent instability and further damage, the muscles tighten to protect themselves. Continued tightness and tightness of muscles may be described as muscle tension or muscle spasm. When tightness occurs in distinct section of the affected muscles, these areas may be described as trigger points. This tightness in the muscle may produce soreness and pain and reduced mobility of the body parts the muscles move. The symptoms associated with muscle strain/muscle spasm until the injury that triggered the muscle tightness has healed itself.



There are certain circumstances where chronic muscle tightness and trigger points may linger long after the first onset of symptoms. In some cases, such as arthritis of the synovial joints, or nerve compression, the tightness of the muscles may continue because the cause of the instability of that part of the body continues. In other cases, left over materials that were produced during the inflammatory process involved with pain and swelling of damages structures remains near the joints, tendons, and muscles, after the original cause of the injury has healed itself. This leftover material, called adhesions, may be the cause of additional pain and disability of joints and muscles.

A physical therapy technique known as the strain-counter strain technique is involved with increasing the length of muscles that have contracted in length due to one of the factors mentioned above. The strain counter strain technique involves stretching the muscle to the proper length and holding it for a few seconds to help reeducate the muscle to finding its proper position. Stretching may help to avoid adhesions from accumulating on the muscles of fascia of muscles, or stimulate the muscles into breaking these materials up.

The strain counter strain technique is used to the nerves in chronically tight muscles from sending itself signals to maintain a perpetual state of contraction. The massage therapist, chiropractor, or osteopath will position the body is such a way as to help the muscles relax. The therapist or clinician may use massage techniques to stimulate the muscles to lengthen.