Positional Release techniques

Positional release involves taking the restricted tissue into a position of ease to help break neurological feedback signals which are keeping it in spasm.

This is done slowly and passively, i.e. the therapist moves the clients body. There are different ways of employing this technique, either using a painful point as a monitor, or the practitioner using their own felt sense of ease in the tissues by holding the area. It is especially useful in acute situations where a muscle has been pulled, or is in spasm, but can also be useful in more long term issues and as part of a strategy for treating trigger point activity. As a method it integrates well with muscle energy technique MET and myofascial release.

Practitioner moving patient's leg at the hip, position of ease or stretch

Functional method

This is a kind of positional release where the practitioner uses their felt sense of tension and ease in the tissues to find the position of ease. It should be pain free, and the client needs to be relaxed and let the therapist move them as much as possible for best effect. Applied in an advanced way the therapist might keep moving the clients body ‘following’ the ease as it relaxes.

Strain-Counterstrain

This form of positional release uses pressure applied on a tender spot or trigger point as a monitor and the client is asked to report on the degree of tenderness, which hopefully reduces as the position of ease is approached. It is named as it is because the idea is that you do the opposite of strain the muscle in order to return it to a relaxed state. This should also be pain free and the tenderness felt at the monitor spot should reduce by 70% or more. Often it goes completely during the procedure, and although the spot may still be tender afterwards the function, the persons movement should be improved.

References and further reading:

  • Chaitow L. (2002) Positional Release, London, Churchil Livingstone
  • Chaitow L. & Delany J. (2005) Clinical application of Neuromuscular techniqies Vol 1& 2. London, Churchill Livingstone.