History of Counterstrain

Counterstrain was developed in 1955 by Dr. Lawrence Jones, an osteopath from the little town of Ontario, Oregon. Dr. Jones was born and raised in Spokane Washington, the son of an engineer and school teacher. He became interested in Osteopathy as a teenager watching an osteopath treat a friend with an acute back injury using only his hands and attaining miraculous relief of symptoms. He received his osteopathic degree in 1936 from the California College of Osteopathic Medicine in Los Angeles and soon after moved back to Oregon and started his practice in Ontario. In his early years of practice, Dr. Jones performed primarily high velocity manipulation techniques applied to joint problems. He admitted that he was getting about two-thirds of his patients better but always thought “I should be doing better than that.”

Dr. Jones was motivated to experiment with the concept of positional release in part from his frustration with the rationale of his time for the osteopathic lesion (which has since changed names to somatic dysfunction). He was schooled to believe that somehow joints became locked or subluxed and the only way to treat them was to burst them loose through high velocity thrust techniques. His results were generally good, but occasionally a case would enter his office that resisted all of his manipulative skills. Dr. Jones stated, "Only stubbornness kept me from admitting I was stumped." He recounted that he was treating just such a case when he discovered positional release.

The patient was a young man with psoasitis (stooped posture) and was unable to come completely upright with severe pain across the low lumbar area. He had been treated by Dr. Jones using HVLA techniques for six weeks, but with no relief of symptoms. Previously, the patient had been treated by two chiropractors for two and a half months with also no relief. He complained of pain while sleeping and an inability to find a comfortable position that he could stay in for any longer than fifteen minutes.

Dr. Jones decided to devote one treatment session to finding a reasonably comfortable position for the patient to sleep in. After twenty minutes of experimentation, a position of comfort was found. Dr. Jones related that, "The patient was nearly rolled into a ball with his pelvis rotated about forty-five degrees and laterally flexed about thirty degrees." This was the first positive response the patient had after four months of treatment. Dr. Jones propped him in that position and went off to treat another patient. When he returned, he helped the patient upright and was astonished to find he could stand completely erect in total comfort. Examination revealed full and near pain free range of motion. All Dr. Jones had done was put the patient in a position of comfort. The results were dramatic.


Fascial Counterstrain Discovery

Fascial Counterstrain started being developed in the late 1990s by Brian Tuckey, PT, OCS, JSCCI…. Here is his account of his initial discovery.

"I had just returned from a visceral manipulation course and began to apply the visceral stretching techniques I had just learned to my chronic pain population. I was able to identify the deep visceral- fascial restrictions, however, was frustrated by the fact that the restrictions were fighting back. In other words, I perceived active resistance to my direct manipulation efforts. Since this repeated observation could not be explained by the visceral adhesion rationale offered in the course, I decided to go in the wrong direction and attempted an indirect treatment or “Counterstrain” of the visceral restriction.

The result was an immediate relaxation of the surrounding tissue and the perception of a faint therapeutic pulse or vascular release in the surrounding tissue. I maintained the position for ninety seconds and after reassessment, noted a complete correction of the visceral restriction. The patient also reported an instant improvement in pain and said to me, immediately after treatment, “I don’t know what you just did, but that really helped!”

Further experimentation verified the success of indirect manipulation in the viscera. From that point on I began a laborious, multiple year process of identifying visceral tender points and the specific organ manipulation that would correct each restriction.

This eventually turned into a comprehensive compilation of every anatomical structure in the body that has been worked on over the last twenty years and is still in the process of being completed."

- Brian Tuckey PT, OCS, JSCCI


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