Think about stretching your body when you’re most in tune with it. Do images come to mind of touching your toes, or doing casual yoga poses? If so, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Did you know there are more benefits stretching can have on your body?
Unlike the regular stretching you do after sitting at your desk for a little too long, stretch therapy is a science-based movement system that allows you to use stretching to your advantage when it comes to recovery, pain reduction, stress reduction, and fitness.
What is Stretch Therapy?
Stretch therapy focuses on the myofascial system, meaning muscles, fascia, and the connective tissue that encompasses them. Stretch Therapy uses the Contract/Relax method, which is essentially a “physiological body hack”. By taking a muscle or fascial sling into a gentle stretch position, then making it contract at the end range, this creates a deeper relaxation, increasing the range of motion and stretch available. This will make your muscles feel more relaxed within just a couple of stretches.
In the long-term, stretch therapy will help isometrically strengthen at end ranges and lets the body know you are strong enough to use the new range created, leading to longer lasting mobility.
Fascial tissue and tendons are the other two big focuses of stretch therapy. Your fascia is a web-like network of highly innervated tissue that runs everywhere between your skin and muscles.
The main philosophy of this kind of therapy is to use stretching as a core element of exercise, rather than as an afterthought. There are countless benefits of stretch therapy, which include:
- Treating muscle tightness and soreness
- Reduce discomfort from aches and pains in the body
- Restore a full range of mobility
Stretch therapy isn’t just useful for recovering from injuries and other conditions. With a routine in place, it can also be an amazing tool for preventing other problems down the line, specifically these five easily preventable ones.
1. Future injuries
One of the number one reasons stretch therapy is being used by so many athletes is its ability to prevent future injuries. Studies have found that stretch therapy is an excellent way to lower the risk of non-contact injuries (e.g. hyperextensions, strains, sprains, and more) for young athletes.
When you regularly do stretch therapy and training, your muscles are being repeatedly stimulated, which helps them relax and move more easily. This means they’ll get better at contracting and relaxing as you move, which will leave you a lot less prone to injury.
You don’t need to be an athlete to benefit from this either! Stretch therapy can help anyone reduce their risk of injury, such as anyone who loses their balance from time to time.
2. Muscle imbalances from regular motion
Whether you’re playing sports all day long or simply typing away at your desk job, odds are there are many repetitive motions you perform countless times a day. No matter the intensity or effort required, any repetitive motion can create muscle shortness or imbalances from time to time.
When muscles move, they don’t do it alone. The very nature of human movement is reciprocal, meaning that for every muscle that moves, an opposing muscle will move in the opposite direction. In other words, one muscle group pulls, and the other one relaxes to allow this movement to occur. This leads to balance in your muscular structure and lets you perform motions as you normally would.
However, repetitive motion over a long period of time can mean one of these two groups works harder than the other, which can gradually create pain, stiffness, and eventually a limited range of movement. Stretch therapy helps to keep these muscle groups in balance, meaning you’ll be able to use your full range of motion without any discomfort.
3. Limited mobility from aging
As we get older, we tend to lose some of our range of movement and mobility, but is it because we are doing less or moving less? This can be reduced with proper stretch techniques. Fascial tissue needs to have movement to maintain its hydration and lubrication to slide/glide between the layers of tissues. With inactivity, there are more restrictions and adhesion buildup or drying out of the fascial tissue. So ensuring muscles and fascial tissue are being moved on and over each other, it limits the adhesions and ensures adequate hydration of the tissue. Hydrated fascia is happy fascia!
In any case, the science is there to show that stretch therapy can help aging people keep their full range of motion, all while avoiding discomfort and a higher risk of injury.
4. Stiffness and cramping
We all feel a little stiff from time to time. Sometimes, a cramp arises out of nowhere, making for a lot of unnecessary discomfort. These aches and pains are usually caused by excessive muscle tension, which can happen as a result of an injury or simply from a long-term muscle imbalance.
Thankfully, stretch therapy is a great way to prevent this issue. By improving circulation to your joints and muscles, a good stretch routine will allow your muscles to move more efficiently, getting the blood and oxygen they need to remain relaxed.
5. Stress symptoms
You may already know just how intertwined our bodies are with our mental health. Stress in particular has a tendency to physically manifest itself, often in the form of muscle tension and imbalance. Over time, this can lead to a real physical problem, which may in turn elevate your stress even further.
Break this frustrating cycle with stretch therapy! Not only does the treatment help to reduce the stress on your joints, muscles, and other tissues, the process truly helps in lowering stress levels, learning breath control, and overall being able to relax more easily. It allows people to achieve a zen-like state and can be the perfect complement to a regular yoga or meditation routine!
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There are so many amazing reasons to take advantage of stretch therapy—a proven, trusted method of restoring balance and mobility to the bottom, all while preventing many future issues.