MEET MET STRETCHES
MET stands for Muscle Energy Technique and is a really effective type of stretch that can be used on all areas of the body. Nicky McClean
explains how you can try them at home.
They are similar to the PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretches that you commonly see personal trainers using on their clients. However METs were invented for helping rehabilitate damaged muscles. A MET stretch uses only 20% contraction (as opposed to 100% with PNFs) which means you can use it as a self-stretch once you have the correct technique, which is easy to master. Also, research has shown that both METs and PNFs give the same results.
We all lose flexibility as we grow older – the Achilles tendon, for example, starts to deteriorate after the age of 25 – so stretching is a vital part of your exercise programme. If you don’t stretch after exercise your muscles remain short and contracted and we all know that the most effective (and also better-looking!) muscle is a long, lean one.
Ensure that you are warm when attempting these stretches, so after exercise or a bath/shower. They are developmental stretches so take your muscle to the “point of bite” where you can feel the pull, but not to the pain threshold.
Here is an example for your hamstrings:
• Lie face up, put a towel over your instep and raise your leg holding each end of the towel.
• Once you have reached the point of bite, which varies from person to person, try and push your straight leg back
towards the floor using 20% of your strength for 10 seconds while resisting with the towel.
• Your leg should not move, but your hamstrings should tighten in a static contraction. Then relax and pull your leg up further.
• The contraction fools the muscle into believing it can go further, and it will! Repeat twice more and then relax into the final stretch for 30 seconds.
• If your muscles start to “jump” let the stretch go a little – you’ve overdone it. Repeat on the other leg.
Each stretch takes a minute and our massage therapist Nicky McClean can show you how to use this technique on every part of your body. It’s a great way to keep flexible and look after your muscles on a daily basis… In between your sports massage treatments of course!
If you would like to know more about MET stretches, you can book in with Nicky, who is available on Tuesdays and alternate Saturdays, for one-on-one advice and help. Book half an hour for work on your upper body and one hour for the whole body.
Click here to book online.