Isometric contraction – using post-isometric relaxation (in an acute setting without stretching)


  • Relaxing acute muscular spasm or contraction
  • Mobilizing restricted joints
  • Preparing joint for manipulation

Contraction starting point

At the resistance barrier.

Modus  Operandi

The affected muscles (the agonists) are used in the isometric contraction; therefore the shortened muscles subsequently relax via post-isometric contraction (PIR).  If there is pain on contraction this method is contraindicated and the previous method (use of the antagonist) is employed.  The operator is attempting to push towards the barrier of restriction against the patient’s precisely matched counter force.


Operator’s and patient’s forces are matched.  Initial effort involves approximately 20%of    patient’s strength (or less); this can be increased on subsequent contractions if appropriate. Increase of the duration of the contraction may be more effective than any increase in force.

Duration of contraction

Initially 7-10 seconds, increasing in subsequent contractions if greater effect required.

Action following contraction

The tissues (muscle/joint) are taken to their new restrictive barrier without stretch after     ensuring complete relaxation.  Movement to the new barrier should be on an exhalation.


Repeat 3 times, or until no further gain in range of motion is possible.

REMINDER:  When using MET in an acute setting no stretching is involved, merely attempts to   reduce excessive tone.

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