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What is Counterstrain?

Counterstrain was developed by Dr. Lawrence Jones DO, FAAO starting in 1955 and the technique continues to grow through the work of Randall Kusunose PT, OCS, JSCCI and Brian Tuckey PT, OCS, JSCCI. Counterstrain now has over 1,000 different techniques, named after specific anatomical structures, that we use to alleviate dysfunction in the body's deep fascia. 

Fascia is simply connective tissue that surrounds all of our muscles, bones, internal organs, arteries, veins, and nerves and is the largest sensory organ in the body. Therefore, it is necessary to treat not only the muscle fascia (myofascia), but all the fascia of the body. This tissue can contract and spasm, and contains special receptors that sense movement and pain.

When these receptors get activated by the normal stresses that we experience everyday by living life, they trigger nocifensive and nociautonomic reflexes. Although originally protective in nature, these reflexes can cause long term problems if they don't turn off.

Nocifensive Reflex: A muscle spasm that the body uses to protect inflamed or damaged tissue

Nociautonomic Reflex: An autonomic response that results in nerve, artery, vein, respiratory, and digestive problems

During a Counterstrain treatment, our skilled and gentle technique turns off the nocifensive and nociautonomic reflexes by slackening the involved tissue which takes tension off the receptors, drains inflammation out of the area, and decreases pain.

Our main tool we use to diagnose your problems is called the Cranial Scan. The cranial scan is a gentle, manual assessment of the 22 bones of your head that tells us what to treat and where to treat it. The what to treat is what system of the body. The where to treat is what area of the body. Once a specific system and area of the body has been identified, we will find tender points in your muscles or on bone that when painful, identify the presence of dysfunction. The goal of each technique is to make that painful tender point not painful. To do this, the clinician slacken the involved tissue through gentle body positioning and tissue gliding. Once the tender point is gone, holding that treatment position for a short amount of time is necessary before the clinician moves on to the next worst dysfunction and repeats... knocking out tender point after tender point.

Counterstrain now recognizes 6 fascial systems: Neural, Venous and Lymphatic, Arterial, Musculoskeletal, and Visceral. For more information on each system, find the links in the drop down menu above. Chances are your symptoms are multi-system, meaning dysfunctions in multiple systems needs to be address for you to experience complete pain relief. 

The most common question I get asked is, "How do these dysfunctions get created?" My short answer is, "life."


More specifically, dysfunctions are caused by: 

  • Trauma: falls, car accidents, giving birth, but also emotional traumas like deaths of loved ones, divorces, work or family stress

  • Poor posture causing postural strain

  • Repetitive strain: running, cycling, overhead athletes that are always swinging or throwing

  • Structural strain like leg length differences and flat feet

  • Inflammatory diseases like Lyme and Crohn's disease

  • Food sensitivities that lead to chronic pains

Effects of Counterstrain:

  • Decrease pain

  • Drains inflammation

  • Normalizes inappropriate reflexes

  • Increases mobility

  • Improves proprioception

  • Eliminates inhibition which improves strength

  • Improves function of the immune system

  • Creates an ideal healing environment

“The osteopath who is well versed in the anatomy of the region, its blood supply, drainage, and the functioning processes of the nervous system... sees the cause which has produced this condition”

— A.T. Still

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