Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
Popularly known simply as MET, muscle energy technique is a form of stretching commonly used by sports massage therapists, sports therapists, osteopaths and some physiotherapists, chiropractors and fitness professionals. There is no standardized definition of this technique, which involves the active contraction of a muscle by the client against a resistive force provided by a second party (i.e., the therapist). Originating as an osteopathic technique in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there are today numerous variations and applications of this method of stretching.
MET is believed to be particularly helpful in lengthening postural muscles, which are prone to shortening. Theoretically, the active contraction performed by the client against the resistance produced by the therapist is an isometric contraction and may therefore be helpful in strengthening muscles. Also, contraction of one muscle group decreases tone in the opposing muscle group, and MET may therefore be beneficial in helping to overcome cramping. There is some debate about the degree of force a client should use when contracting a muscle before it is stretched, although low levels of contraction are advocated, certainly no more than 25 percent of the client’s maximum force capacity. This is especially important should the technique be used in early stages of rehabilitation after injury, when levels as low as 5 percent may be the most appropriate. MET is sometimes used with a pulsing motion (known as pulsed MET), which advocates claim helps reduces localized oedema.