The core technique of Stretch Therapy to improve flexibility or range of motion of any part, or as the whole-body functions, is the Contract‒Relax (C‒R) approach, based on the method called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). Traditionally, range of motion was considered to be a product of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Latest research is moving towards considering the body to be a continuous fascial web, separated into slings or sleeves containing muscles and bones, and all innervated by the brain, via the neural system.
It follows from this that any stretch affects all systems of the body, but specific variations can emphasise one tissue over another.
There are a number of benefits to stretch therapy beyond simply helping people with pain caused by injuries. People from all walks of life have something to benefit from stretch therapy, whether they’re high level athletes, people looking to improve their general alignment and movement, or to address specific physical issues.
Taking a limb into a stretch position and holding it there for 20 seconds or so until the part being stretched relaxes
Gently pushing or pulling against a suitable resistance to release the muscle in which the stretch is felt. Active Inhibition is activating the muscle you are stretching, while Reciprocal Inhibition is activating the muscle that creates the opposite contraction to the muscle you are stretching.) Stop contracting, and relax, and take a breath in
On a deliberate breath out, re-stretching and holding that final position for 30 seconds or so (longer for larger muscles); all the while, cultivate the deepest possible state of relaxation you can (apart from what you need to do to support the position). Make sure you are experiencing the full sensations of the body by being present in the moment.
Fascia is a sheath, sheet, sleeve or dissectable aggregate of connective tissue that forms beneath the skin to attach, enclose and separate muscles and organs. The fascial net is one continuous structure throughout the body. The fascia is one complex, self-regulating organ.
Fascia is constantly remodeling and laying down more tissue while we sleep or during inactivity. Areas of disuse can become dry and stuck down, limiting movements and can create dysfunctional patterns and areas of discomfort. We can use movement, stretching, or ball release work to wipe away the body’s fascial cobwebs and help the fascia stay hydrated and lubricated.
Fascia creates dynamic tensioning slings that go from head to toe. Instead of just thinking of a specific muscle with an origin and insertion, we can influence the specific area by releasing it directly or indirectly by releasing a higher or lower section of the related sling.
With so many treatment options and stretch therapy providers out there, it can be overwhelming choosing a specialist to help you overcome physical issues. Issues can sometimes be treated at home, but there’s truly no replacement for the skills and expertise of a knowledgeable medical professional. Stretch therapy is one of the most accessible and effective ways to help people on every part of the flexibility spectrum.
If stretch therapy sounds like something that could benefit you, look no further than ProActive Pilates. With twenty-five years of experience as an athlete and physiotherapist, I’m intimately familiar with the interconnected, highly complex integrated systems that make up the human body, and I’ve had the privilege of helping countless clients overcome pain and lost mobility through proven treatments like stretch therapy, allowing them to return to their regular, healthy lives.
I always take the time to understand each client as a unique case, and tailor programs and routines to fit everyone’s needs and goals. I also believe in empowering my patients to be able to work on themselves no matter where they are, so they can experience health and longevity even after our sessions have concluded. Additionally, as I am a physiotherapist, a physiotherapy receipt is given at each treatment, which may be reimbursed by your extended benefit plan. Please check with your specific benefit plan for eligibility.
If you have more questions about this life-changing therapy system, don’t hesitate to contact me. Or when you’re ready to set up an initial consultation, you can get started online.