Advanced Strain Counterstrain: An In-Depth Guide

June 20, 2024

Posted by Lisa Klein, PT, IMT.C

Strain Counterstrain (SCS) is a gentle, passive technique used in manual therapy to relieve pain and improve function by correcting abnormal neuromuscular reflexes. Developed by Dr. Lawrence Jones, this approach has evolved to include advanced applications for autonomically innervated tissues such as arteries, veins, organs, lymph, and discs. At Klein Integrative Physical Therapy, we specialize in these advanced techniques, offering our patients comprehensive care that addresses the root causes of their pain.

Understanding Strain Counterstrain

Strain Counterstrain is based on the principle that abnormal muscle reflexes contribute to pain and dysfunction. These reflexes can be corrected by positioning the body in specific ways that relieve tension and restore normal function. The technique involves identifying tender points, positioning the patient to relieve tenderness, and holding the position until the reflex is reset.

The Evolution of Strain Counterstrain

While traditional SCS focuses on musculoskeletal structures, advanced SCS extends the technique to autonomically innervated tissues. This includes:

  • Arteries and Veins: Addressing vascular issues that can contribute to pain and dysfunction.
  • Organs: Relieving tension in visceral structures to improve organ function.
  • Lymphatic System: Enhancing lymphatic flow to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Discs: Correcting disc-related problems to alleviate pain and improve mobility.

Benefits of Advanced Strain Counterstrain

  1. Comprehensive Pain Relief: 
    • Holistic Approach: By addressing autonomically innervated tissues, advanced SCS offers a more comprehensive approach to pain relief.
    • Targeted Treatment: Techniques are tailored to the specific needs of each patient, ensuring effective treatment.
  2. Non-Invasive and Safe: 
    • Gentle Techniques: Advanced SCS is a gentle, non-invasive method suitable for patients of all ages and conditions.
    • Minimal Risk: The technique poses minimal risk of side effects or complications.
  3. Improved Function and Mobility: 
    • Enhanced Mobility: By relieving tension in various tissues, advanced SCS helps restore normal movement and function.
    • Overall Well-Being: Patients often experience improved overall health and well-being as a result of comprehensive treatment.

Key Techniques in Advanced Strain Counterstrain

  1. Vascular Strain Counterstrain: 
    • Arteries and Veins: Techniques involve gentle positioning and pressure to relieve tension in vascular tissues, improving circulation and reducing pain.
    • Clinical Applications: Effective for conditions like vascular headaches, claudication, and venous insufficiency.
  2. Visceral Strain Counterstrain: 
    • Organs: Techniques focus on positioning to relieve tension in organs, improving function and reducing pain.
    • Clinical Applications: Useful for gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, and genitourinary conditions.
  3. Lymphatic Strain Counterstrain: 
    • Lymphatic System: Techniques enhance lymphatic flow, reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
    • Clinical Applications: Effective for lymphedema, chronic infections, and immune system support.
  4. Disc Strain Counterstrain: 
    • Discs: Techniques correct disc-related problems, alleviating pain and improving mobility.
    • Clinical Applications: Useful for herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and sciatica.

How Advanced Strain Counterstrain Works

  1. Assessment and Diagnosis: 
    • Identifying Underlying Causes: The therapist identifies the target area for treatment by looking for signs, symptoms, and range of motion issues. 
    • Patient History: A thorough patient history and examination help pinpoint the underlying causes of pain.
  2. Treatment Protocol: 
    • Positioning: The patient is positioned to relieve tension at the tender points.
    • Holding: The position is held for a specific duration, allowing the neuromuscular reflex to reset.
    • Reassessment: The therapist reassesses the tender points to ensure effective treatment.
  3. Patient Involvement: 
    • Education: Patients are educated about their condition and the treatment process.
    • Home Exercises: Specific exercises and self-care techniques are provided to support ongoing healing.

Integrating Advanced Strain Counterstrain with Other Therapies

Advanced SCS is often integrated with other therapeutic modalities to enhance treatment outcomes. These may include:

  • Manual Therapy: Combining SCS with other manual techniques for comprehensive care.
  • Dry Needling: Using dry needling to address muscular trigger points and enhance SCS effectiveness.
  • Functional Exercises: Incorporating exercises to strengthen and support the treated tissues.

Advanced Strain Counterstrain offers a powerful, non-invasive approach to treating a wide range of conditions involving autonomically innervated tissues. By addressing the root causes of pain and dysfunction, this technique provides long-term relief and improved quality of life for patients. At Klein Integrative Physical Therapy, our skilled therapists are dedicated to using advanced SCS and other integrative techniques to help our patients achieve optimal health and well-being. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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Caring for the whole system.

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