Do’s and Don’ts for the Muscle Energy Technique

Hi everyone,

One of the topics people ask me about most is the Muscle Energy Technique.  Here are some things that come up *very* often.

DON’T simply try things out because you found a video up on Youtube where someone shows one form of the Muscle Energy Technique.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people put these videos up.

When you have SI joint dysfunction, there are multiple different patterns of rotation you can have through your pelvis and SI joints.   Although we all may have SI joint dysfunction, we are not all rotated the same way.

There are different techniques to correct different imbalances, and you really need to know which pattern of balance you have.  Using the Muscle Energy Technique to correct the wrong imbalance can actually make things worse.

DO see a physical therapist with training in the Muscle Energy Technique.

Some of the physical therapists I’ve found who knew the most about the SI joint actually got their start in continuing education classes about MET.

You really need to work one-on-one with someone who can individually assess what’s going on with your pelvis, and give you the form of MET that’s right for you.

DON’T use MET like it’s a strengthening exercise.

MET is NOT meant as a strengthening exercise.  It’s true that, over time, it can strengthen the muscles you’re using.  But that’s really just an added benefit.

The point of MET is not to exercise, and if you overdo it, you can actually make things worse.

The point of MET is to very gently and precisely bring your pelvis back into alignment, so that your overall biomechanics are better, which in turn takes some of the strain off of your SI joint ligaments.

DO follow your physical therapist’s personalized instructions for how often you should do it.  Again, we are ALL different, so it’s really important to get feedback from someone with training and experience.

The PT who taught me to use MET on myself monitored me very closely in the first few weeks.  She made me promise not to use it more than once a day in the beginning, and cautioned me not to miss any of my follow-up appointments, as she wanted to be sure there weren’t any unintended side effects of my using this treatment.

Which brings me to my next point:

DON’T use MET too frequently.

Over time, as I became more confident with MET, there were times when I began to use it more than once a day.  (Please note that this was my personal decision, and I am NOT suggesting that you do this without checking with your PT first!).

I did find that, at times, it did backfire if I did it too often, as my overworked muscles would go into spasm– which, in turn, can pull the pelvis back out of alignment.

So if you overdo MET, it can actually create a new problem for your SI joints.

DO believe your PT, when they caution you not to do MET too often.

They may tell you that, after a few weeks, you can progress– but be very careful with this.

And lastly…

DON’T be forceful with yourself.

I’ve had times where I would come home, feeling really frustrated about my SI joint problem, and go and do my MET in a hurry to “fix” the problem.

Be very careful of this, because MET is not something you want to do with force!!!

DO be gentle and listen to your body.

MET is so amazing because it allows you to use your own muscle contractions in a very precise and controlled way, to bring your SI joints back into alignment without putting as much strain on your body as other forms of adjustments.

So… go with that!  Let MET do what it is supposed to do, and don’t push it!

Okay… I think that’s all for now.

People often ask me to put up a video of the Muscle Energy Technique, but again– I really don’t want to encourage anyone to try MET without checking in with a licensed physical therapist.

As we’ve seen, MET is actually meant to be very gentle and precise to the pattern of imbalance that you have, so there’s no way to achieve that with instructions that are one-size-fits-all.

If you want to know more, check out my page on Muscle Energy Technique, as well as my tips on How to Find a Good Physical Therapist.

I hope this helps!

6 thoughts on “Do’s and Don’ts for the Muscle Energy Technique

  1. Invisibly Me says:

    This is a good example of how YouTube can be dangerous! Really good point about it needing to be customised and relevant specifically to you, rather than risking doing more harm than good following generic videos.
    Caz xx

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  2. S. says:

    Wow, Thank you for this post. In the past few weeks I had setbacks due to unavoidable physical stress , which reminded me that I hadn’t checked your blog for a while. Just yesterday and today I had been doing the muscle energy technique way more than I am supposed to because my pelvis keeps slipping out five minutes after doing it. And not just more often, but with more force. And I actually did have some muscle spasming yesterday, but I kept going! This summer I had been able to stay in place for increasingly long periods of time. Frustration made me reckless. Thank you for the reminder!

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    • Christy Collins says:

      You’re welcome S.! I know what you mean— sometimes we want so badly to fix the problem that we end up being a little *too* proactive. It’s definitely a balancing act to know when to push forward, and when to rest! Glad my blog could help.

      Like

  3. cwestwelC says:

    This is such good advice and wish I had read it months ago! When I started trying MET my PT suggested a frequency of 5 times per day and I went at it with a ton of force (I figured more force = more benefit!). Because I never felt pain immediately after, I figured it was fine and kept going until gradually the pain became so severe I couldn’t weight bear and reached a whole new level of dysfunction (had sudden post-partum onset of SIJD and still can’t lift my baby after 9 months!). I think some PT’s don’t appreciate the potential presence of a sprain / ligamentous tear that can clearly get much worse with the wrong kind of force.

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