In last month’s Part 1 of this article, we defined stretch therapy and the science behind it. We discussed the different kinds of flexibility for long-term and short-term benefits. In this article we will discuss stretch therapy techniques that improve range of motion.
The best way to structure a routine for stretch therapy
Regardless of what you’re targeting with stretch therapy, the overall format should be the same. Start with 5–10 minutes of light to medium aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, to raise your body temperature.
From there, perform myofascial release followed by static stretches, then active stretches or PNF if you have a partner available.
A routine for stretch therapy:
- A brisk aerobic warm-up for 5–10 minutes
- Use a foam roller for 30 seconds at each trigger point 2–3 times
- Holding for 30 seconds per muscle passive stretches 2–3 times
- 2–3 active or PNF stretches
To notice results, do this routine at least twice a week. Your range of motion and general movement quality should both considerably improve in just a few weeks.
Your risk of injury while participating in sports, exercising and engaging in daily physical activity will also significantly decrease with improved movement.
Stretch therapy comprises a number of exercises that you can carry out alone or with a partner. For the best outcomes, the techniques must be structured properly.
Techniques for stretch therapy
Diverse exercises are used in stretch treatment procedures to increase range of motion and mobility. These consist of:
- partner-assisted stretching techniques
- massage techniques, including self-massage with foam rollers or other devices
- active or dynamic stretching techniques
- passive stretching techniques
Myofascial release, massage and foam rolling
Myofascial release is a phrase used in the field of exercise research to describe methods that directly press tissues with outside pressure. Self-myofascial release can be done as a stand-alone session, before or after a workout.
This covers self-massage methods like foam rolling, lacrosse ball massage, and conventional massage techniques used by massage therapists.
Numerous studies indicate that foam rolling and comparable massage techniques increase range of motion and decrease muscular stiffness, while additional research is necessary. Additionally, evidence indicates that foam rolling could improve recuperation after exercise.
Overall, research suggests that self-myofascial release is most effective when performed for 30–120 seconds on the targeted areas.
You will likely find so-called “trigger points,” where the muscle is especially tender. These are the locations you want to apply the pressure (7).
Performing self-myofascial release:
- Establish where the target muscle is based on the joint you wish to obtain an increase in range of motion.
- Locate a trigger point and roll a foam roller or lacrosse ball along the muscle.
- To feel a slight release in the area, Hold the trigger point for 30 or more seconds.
- Perform 1–3 holds per area.
The following are some typical places that benefit from self-myofascial release, while you can use this approach to target a wide range of areas. For each of these joints, a fast YouTube search will turn up instructional videos:
- Shoulder: lats, pectorals, rear delts
- Ankle: calves, feet
- Hip: quadriceps/hip flexors, glutes, piriformis, hamstrings
Stretches aided by a partner
Access to partner-assisted stretches is one of the main advantages of receiving stretch therapy from a trained practitioner.
Having a training partner help you stretch can still be beneficial even if you don’t consult a professional physical therapist or other fitness expert.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretches are the best partner stretches. PNF techniques include a variety of approaches, all of which rely on your partner’s support and manual resistance during the stretching process.
PNF techniques, in general, concentrate on contracting your muscles first before letting them relax into the stretch. This strategy allows for a deeper stretch and better increase in your range of motion.
The three main PNF techniques are hold-relax, contract-relax and hold-relax with agonist contraction. If you’re unfamiliar with how these partner stretching techniques work, it’s best to consult a physical therapist or personal trainer.
You can easily incorporate passive stretching and myofascial release into your training program. Although partner stretches and dynamic or active, stretching methods are particularly beneficial, they should be learned from a professional.
The bottom line
Stretch therapy is a collection of training methods designed to alleviate muscle and joint stiffness, which can impair movement and raise the risk of injury.
Stretch therapy methods are dependent on the location of your particular imbalances and can be applied to many different parts of the body. Overall, both athletes and the general public benefit from using effective stretch treatment techniques.
REACH’s 2 STEP APPROACH TO RECOVERY THERAPY
1. IDENTIFY THE ROOT CAUSES OF YOUR ACHES AND PAINS
At Reach, we start your Stretch and Recovery journey with your Mobility Risk Factor Assessment. This assessment allows us to pinpoint the causes of your aches and pains, muscle imbalances and weakness, and posture or mobility limitations. After your assessment, we can proceed to step 2!
2. CUSTOMIZE YOUR RECOVERY THERAPY PROGRAM
Based on your Mobility Risk Factor Assessment, a custom Stretch & Recovery therapy plan will be created. The program is designed just for you and will target your areas of concern and interest. Each session includes a balanced blend of Corrective Stretch, Percussion, Compression, CBD, and Heat Vibration Therapy. This takes the guesswork out of choosing the Stretch and Recovery therapies that will be best for you!