What is Counterstrain?

As a general overview, Counterstrain utilizes diagnostic tender points to identify painful, reflexively protected and contracted tissues.  Reflex tissue contractions occur in the body’s deep fascia layers, skeletal muscle tissues and or smooth muscle structures in response to a variety of mechanical or chemical insults.  Examples include trauma, surgery, postural strain, repetitive motion, infectious or viral conditions, even secondary to a long-term inflammatory diet.  This form of reflex muscular dysfunction, once present, can contribute to a multitude of symptoms and conditions. Some examples include musculoskeletal conditions in all regions of the body, chronic edema, weakness, digestive dysfunction, neuropathies, endocrine dysfunction, migraine and non-migraine headaches, visual disturbances, tachycardia, CRPS, peripheral arterial disease, balance disorders, seizures, tinnitus, depression, impaired immune system function, even systemic conditions like fibromyalgia.


Counterstrain removes painful, reflexive tissue contractions from the body via a gentle hands-on process that involves slackening or decompression of the involved structures.  The treatments are completely painless making it a viable option for even the most painful or delicate cases.  Counterstrains powerful, multi-system effects are believed to be due to the deactivation of deep fascial pain receptors (nociceptors) which maintain the body’s soft tissues in a persistent guarded or “over-protective” state.  During Counterstrain treatments, there is a palpable, often visible reduction in localized tissue edema.  This combination of metabolite drainage and proprioceptive re-setting gives Counterstrain unparalleled carry over.  Many patients report lasting relief of chronic conditions after only one or two treatment sessions.


In addition to vastly increasing the specificity, scope and number of techniques, Brian Tuckeys continued developement of Fascial Counterstrain has also added a remarkedly powerful diagnostic tool called the “cranial scan.” This cranial motion test, developed by Tuckey over the last 15 years, allows practitioners to rapidly identify any dysfunctional systems and regions in the body in under 60 seconds.  For example, motion testing of the occipitomastoid suture will quickly allow the practitioner to identify any existing dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (see diagram)



Counterstrain embraces the concepts of holistic and osteopathic medicine in that it addresses the body as a whole.  By normalizing blood flow, muscular tension, vascular drainage, and neural input, Counterstrain maximizes the body’s intrinsic healing capacity.  Multi-system diagnosis and manipulation is the key to correcting chronic and acute conditions of all types.  This treatment model allows the identification and correction of the source of a patient’s pain and disability, not just the surface symptoms. Further information and introduction to Counterstrain can be found in Randall Kusunoses Chapter 13 reading. 

“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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