What is Stretch Therapy?
Ever keep your body in a single position for too long and really need that stretch getting out of it? Stretch Therapy focuses on releasing where you get stuck- better known as fascia, a thin sheath of fibrous connective tissue which connects & supports the musculoskeletal system. Often due to poor posture, sedentary lifestyles, and injuries, this fascia becomes rigid and restricts joint mobility. Stiffness, chronic pain, and an increased susceptibility to injury are the result.
Whether training for a sport, recovering from an injury, or simply pursuing a healthier lifestyle, Stretch Therapy can help by:
Increasing flexibility & range of motion
Decreasing risk of injury
Improving sports performance
Enhancing massage benefits
Increased Flexibility & Range of Motion
The most common goal for a stretching regimen is to increase flexibility and range of motion. By releasing connective tissue, elongating muscles, and moving joints through their full range of motion, Stretch Therapy quickly increases flexibility and mobility.
Reduced Injury Risk
With increased flexibility and elasticity (the ability to return to its natural state after being stretched), stretching can help prevent injury to the muscles and tendons. Without this, muscles are especially prone to injury while in a stretched state. Intense static stretching - holding a challenging stretch for a period of time - temporarily weakens this elasticity and thus should not be performed before strenuous exercise. By contrast, dynamic stretching involves active movement through the joint’s range of motion, and is an effective warm-up which reduces the risk of injury.
Spending time in a single position throughout the day has a lasting effect and becomes a part of a body’s “normal” posture. A good example is desk workers having shortened chest muscles and raised shoulders from sitting all day, often in a slouched position. Stretching the shortened muscles returns them back to their natural length and helps maintain proper posture.
Improved Athletic Performance
Stretch therapy aids in sport performance in multiple ways – using the right techniques at the right times is key. Dynamic stretching can be utilized pre-exercise to warm up the muscle and get it ready to optimally perform. Static stretching should be utilized post-exercise to elongate the muscles, increasing range of motion, and reducing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Both forms of stretching aid in a faster recovery and a stronger, faster response when calling on muscle fibers.
Enhanced Massage Therapy Benefits
With the proper stretching regimen, you’ll not only experience more relaxation on the massage table, but you’ll also be able to go longer between your treatments. Stretching can help slow down and stop the build-up of dense, knotting tissue. Additionally, a Stretch Therapy session is highly effective following a massage, with the muscles already in a relaxed, elongated state.
Types of Stretch Therapy
Stretch Therapy can be split into two types of practices. Passive stretch therapy is performed on a table or a matt with the client completely clothed. As you focus on relaxing and breathing, the therapist will move the client through various poses to release tension and restore balance. Active stretching is geared towards bringing your stretch practice home with you. Your therapist will customize a stretch progression and teach you how to move through your poses, giving you various cues, corrections, and assistance to help you find a deeper understanding to take with you. Self-massage techniques and tools may be incorporated to aid in reaching your goal.
Regardless of which type of Stretch Therapy you utilize, be sure to come prepared in loose, comfortable clothing. Your therapist will go over your goals and help decide which practice would best suit your needs. Each session, your therapist will help you set specific intentions to focus on throughout your practice. After your session, you’ll feel more in-tune with your body and have a deeper understanding of what your body needs.