by Erik Dalton, Ph.D.
Myoskeletal Muscle Manipulation Through Joint Mobilization
A confounding situation arises as the therapist’s fingers attempt to pry between joint surfaces to contact the short rotators, intertransversarii, and intertransverse muscles. Although these tiny, one-joint rotators/side-benders typically are the tightest in the presence of joint dysfunction, application of direct localized pressure sometimes is impossible, given the limited space between articular surfaces. Here’s when the myoskeletal technique comes in handy. The therapist utilizes sustained manual pressure on the superior fixated vertebra as the joint is taken through a specific range of motion. Basically, bones are used as levers to create a Golgi tendon organ (GTO) release in all fourth-layer muscles, causing the joint blockage. The question then arises as to the nature of the fixated joint: Is it locked, open or closed? And which side of the spine is stuck?
Using the myoskeletal approach, the therapist’s fingers and thumbs wade through the paraspinal laminar groove tissues, scanning for lumpy, wiry and knotty transversospinalis muscles. Once the hypertonic little muscles are found, what information is revealed about the nature of the dysfunctional joint? Not much! By Greenman’s definition, it’s obvious that joint dysfunction exists, but what type? Is one side of the joint jammed closed and unable to open during forward bending, or is a superior facet not closing on the vertebra below during backward bending?