In 1955 Dr. Lawrence Jones, DO, discovered that positioning a patient for comfort could correct complex spinal disorders. The accidental discovery occurred after he helped a patient with severe low back pain try to find a comfortable sleeping position. After a brief period of experimentation, a position was identified in which the patient was completely comfortable. After a 20 minute trial in this position (to see if this was a viable sleeping position,) the patient was able to stand fully erect for the first time in 6 months. Shortly thereafter the patient made a full recovery. He applied this position of comfort to his most difficult patients and realized that specific tender points could be alleviated with specific positions. He termed this discovery Strain and Counterstrain.

Brian Tuckey, PT, OCS was a student of Dr. Jones. Brian taught these “Classic Counterstrain” techniques for many years before he realized the positions were actually shortening the fascia around different structures in the body. Each tender point was associated with a specific system in the body. He refined the technique to include gentle indirect glides and very precise positioning to release each restriction. He then developed a way to scan the body to identify where these restrictions are. This new and much improved version of Counterstrain is called Fascial Counterstrain. Counterstrain is distinct in its ability to impact and treat all of the body’s fascial systems including vascular, visceral, nervous & musculoskeletal. This multi-system approach is unique in the world of manipulation giving it unparalleled diagnostic and curative capacity.


Counterstrain is a cutting-edge, therapeutic, hands-on approach for the assessment, identification and correction of a common source of pain and dysfunction. Every organ, nerve, artery, muscle, ligament, tendon, vein and lymphatic vessel in the human body can actively spasm and produce pain as a natural, protective response to injury or a threat of possible injury. This protective response and resulting spasm is located in the connective tissue that surrounds all structures in the body. Other names for this connective tissue include the interstitium or fascia.

Once this reflex spasm is triggered it can persist, spread & form hundreds of tender points. This reflex can also recruit neighboring muscles to contract and help protect a more vital structure from harm. For example: if the sciatic nerve is suddenly stretched, the reflexive protective response may be to contract the fascia around the nerve itself along with contracting the hamstring muscles to protect the nerve. Counterstrain works to release the tissue in spasm and the corresponding tender point by gently unloading the injured structure. In this example unloading the fascial restriction around the sciatic nerve will relax the hamstring muscle.

Although symptoms can be a useful diagnostic tool, another unique quality of Counterstrain is the ability to identify and treat the source of pain or dysfunction. Often symptoms are a result of compensation and are not always in the same area as the cause.


“Fascial Counterstrain is a modern, expanded version of the osteopathic technique Strain and Counterstrain in which all systems of the human body are assessed and treated, not just the musculoskeletal system. A new explanation of fascial/neuromuscular tender points is presented that utilizes the modern concepts of central processing and the emerging science of fascia as a contractile sensory organ. We suggest that the body protects all tissues, not just musculoskeletal structures, via nocifensive reflexes orchestrated by the fascial system.” –Brian Tuckey, PT, OCS


Counterstrain is an “indirect” or pain free manual therapy technique. Counterstrain’s ability to reduce overactive reflexes gives the technique excellent “carry over” or permanency. With this technique, the body corrects itself instead of being “forced” into a correction. Gentle body positioning and compression or shortening of the strained structure works to effect a therapeutic release. By positioning the body against the strain or by applying a “counterstrain”, the structure quickly relaxes, thus reducing tension and immediately alleviating this primary source of pain. It does this by decompression of nerves to silence the protective reflex and by draining inflammation to eliminate the ongoing chemical irritation of the nerves. Our bodies have the ability to heal. Once the restrictions are released the body can continue the healing path. Drinking more water and avoiding irritating activities allows the body to continue the healing process after a treatment.



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Avatar photo About Christine Wood

Christine Wood, PT, DPT lives in Augusta County in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley with her husband and children. With over 20 years of experience as a Physical Therapist, her hands have brought healing and pain relief to thousands of clients.