Isometric contraction – using reciprocal inhibition (in an acute setting, without stretching)


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

Contraction  starting point

For acute muscle or any joint problem, commence at ‘easy’ restriction barrier (first sign of resistance towards end range).

Modus  Operandi

The patient is attempting to push towards the barrier of restriction against the operator’s precisely matched counterforce, therefore antagonist(s) to affected muscles are being employed in an isometric contraction, so obliging shortened muscles to relax via reciprocal inhibition.


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.

Duration of contraction

Initially 7-10 seconds, increasing in subsequent contractions if greater effect required, and if no pain is induced by the effort.

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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