Strain counterstrain technique was first proposed by osteopath Dr Lawrence Jones in 1955 and is based on the palpation of tender points (TeP) used to both diagnose and treat pain throughout the body. The tender points are defined as small zones of tense, tender, edematous muscle and fascial tissue about a centimeter in diameter and about 4 times more tender to palpation than normal tissue. The formation of TePs is thought to be caused by a precipitating musculoskeletal injury leading to a persistent neuromuscular reflex loop and somatic pain.

Jones defined his technique as “a passive positional procedure that places the body in a position of greatest comfort, thereby relieving pain by reduction and arrest of inappropriate proprioceptor activity that maintains somatic dysfunction”. This hypothesis implies that an aberrant muscle spindle reflex creates an increased tone in one of the muscles surrounding a joint, fixating the joint in a certain position. Using the TeP as a monitor, the operator seeks a position of at least two thirds reduction in the TeP tenderness (usually a position that shortens the tissue containing the tenderpoint) and holds this position for 90 seconds. The operator then returns from this position slowly to neutral. If the treatment is effective, the TeP diminishes in tenderness ( by 70% or more) and there is a reduction in tissue tension and oedema contributing to myofascial pain patterns and somatic joint dysfunction. American physical therapists Randall Kusunose and Brian Tuckey and their colleagues at the Jones Institute have expanded Dr Jones’s SCS concept to treat more than 250 points relating to musculoskeletal and craniosacral dysfunction and over 300 points relating to dysfunction within other systems including the visceral organs, circulatory vessels and nervous system.


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