Strain Counterstrain Treatment for Low Back Pain in Pregnancy

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Strain Counterstrain for Massage Therapists℠

What is Strain Counterstrain?

Lawrence Jones, D.O., an osteopathic physician, serendipitously discovered the principles of Counterstrain in the 1950s while treating a man with severe back pain. He had been previously treated unsuccessfully by two chiropractors and Dr. Jones found that his osteopathic treatment of high velocity/low amplitude manipulation was also unsuccessful.  At one treatment session, his patient complained that he had been unable to find any position in which he could sleep without pain.  Dr. Jones spent time propping him with pillows until he achieved a pain-free position.  He left his patient in this position and went to treat other patients.  When he returned he carefully helped the man to slowly return to an upright position.  He was able to stand, upright and pain-free, for the first time in four months.

Jones began to experiment with other patients, and over time discovered “positions of ease” for hundreds of tender points throughout the body.  These tender points represented somatic dysfunction of both musculo-skeletal and visceral structures.  These tender points indicated the presence of hyperactive muscle spindle cells that had resulted from the body’s response to acute injury or repetitive motion strain. Jones discovered that by positioning a patient’s body in a very specific way that shortened these constantly contracted muscles, that the tissues could regain normal function.

Massage therapists can effectively incorporate this technique in their practices. One of its main advantages is its gentle nature: clients are placed in a position of comfort and ease that immediately eliminates their pain. This position is held for 90 seconds.  Counterstrain’s ability to reduce overactive stretch reflexes gives this technique an excellent “carry over” effect, or permanency.

Course participants will learn the foundation concepts that form the basis of counterstrain therapy, including new scientific understanding of how pain develops, and the perpetuating factors that involve the brain and central nervous system.

Participants who complete the training program will be able to effectively treat a wide variety of muscle, joint, ligament, and fascial dysfunctions.

Recommended before your first Strain Counterstrain Course:
Chapter 13 by Randall S. Kusonose from Rational Manual Therapies by John V. Basmajian & Rich Nyberg


Strain Counterstain for Massage Therapists℠: The Spine

This 3-day, 25-hour course introduces the foundation concepts of Counterstrain, including the neuromuscular basis of counterstrain, and the conditions that it effectively treats.  Students will develop the palpatory skills to locate both anterior and posterior tender points for the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, and the protocols for moving a client’s body into the “position of ease” which produces the “mobile point” that extinguishes discomfort and pain in that area.

The training is 90% hands-on, and emphasizes students understanding of the kinesiology of the spine as well as the development and enhancement of skill in palpation and monitoring of tender points.

Posture and body use training for therapist and client

Students will learn the Alexander Technique, the educational approach to body use and posture, which complements Strain Counterstrain treatment and provides clients with strategies for comfortable pain-free positioning and movement in the workplace, at school, in sports, and other activities of daily living.

Conditions treated

Some of the conditions addressed by Strain Counterstrain for Massage Therapists℠: The Spine include: headache, myofascial pain, fibromyalgia, chronic pain of the neck and back whiplash, anterior chest wall pain, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and pregnancy-related back pain.  Because of the involvement of  nociocepter nerve dysfunction in the development of myofascial pain, Counterstrain can also be useful in the treatment of positional vertigo, GERD and reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), deep pelvic pain, and other visceral disorders.

Home treatment

Students will learn how to provide a home treatment program for clients who will then be able to reinforce their Strain Counterstrain session at home.