Health

How Assisted Stretching Changes Lives – Part I: Athletes, Sports & Fitness Enthusiasts, Weekend Warriors

Regular stretching increases force and power by 2% to 5% and improves running speed by 0.06 seconds over 50-yards… this can make the difference between winning a gold medal and not placing in an event.
by Ian Shrier, MD, PhD. | First Published in the Physician and Sports Medicine Vol. 33 – No. 3 – March 2005

What Is Assisted Stretching?

The Assisted Stretching method performed at Living Well Balanced is modeled on rigorous science-based therapy. Stretching is proven to help prevent or reverse injury because it increases blood flow and frees up scarred muscle and fascia tissues–a root cause of pain and stiffness in chronic stress and disease. Our proprietary methodology yields impressive results in a short time. The technique promotes natural self-healing that leads to increased functional capabilities and performance that athletes, sports and fitness enthusiasts, and weekend warriors are looking for.

Our stretching technique is designed to re-educate the body’s core functions to naturally energize and enhance performance. The technique is based on passive stretching. The stretch is performed by our practitioners with no active involvement of the patient.

For fascia and connective tissue, the practitioner can manually stretch the involved tissues gently with minimal pressure to achieve a fascial pull or stretch. Muscles that need to be stretched are isolated by the practitioner and brought to the maximum achievable length prior to the stretch reflex. Then gently, with the patient’s exhalation, the muscle is further stretched but not past the point of pain. When the muscle can tolerate further stretch, a passive stretch can be accomplished in the developmental stretch phase. Our mantra is Release, Relieve, Revive.

Performance Benefits of Assisted Stretching

Stretching is an important part of any workout, but so many times it is either hurried or neglected altogether. We know proper stretching creates a better range of motion, which enables an athlete to perform at a higher level. Stretching also has the benefit of increasing the body’s recovery time post-workout and helps to prevent nagging or acute injuries.

Flexibility is one of several important components of physical fitness and successful performance in disciplines ranging from archery to volleyball to martial arts to football. Our practitioners safely and effectively guide our clients on a flexibility program to improve performance in different sporting activities.

Assisted Stretching is a unique system of therapy and training that dramatically improves your flexibility by lengthening your fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds all structures in your body. The problem is that fascia can thicken and shorten when any of your tissues are under stress from poor posture, injury, post-surgery, or over-training.

While many therapies can help these conditions, only Assisted Stretching can completely treat inflexible fascia at the deepest level – your joint capsule. After our sessions, you will find all of your layers of fascia become more pliable and hydrated, then joint range of motion, muscle strength, and flexibility immediately improves making it easier for you to train and maintain. Our Assisted Stretching sessions will alleviate pain and open up tight muscles, so you can move freely, and it can be done pre-workout or for post-workout recovery.

Other benefits for athletes, whether you’re a weekend warrior or you are training for competition, are:

  • Improve circulation and blood flow
  • Removal of lactic acid
  • Improve range of motion and flexibility
  • Increase power
  • Improve lymphatic drainage for faster recovery
  • Reduce the risk of injuries:
    • Resolve weakness and tightness in the neck and shoulders
    • Engage upper core muscles for peak performance
    • Resolve non-tear injuries like frozen shoulder syndrome
    • Resolve knee issues due to imbalances in the hips
    • Resolve IT band issues
    • Reducing shin splints by stretching the Tibialis Anterior–a huge benefit especially for long distance runners
    • Stretching the plantar fascia can take pressure off the hamstrings and hips and can increase beneficial spring in your stride
    • Stretching the arches of the bottom of the feet’s flexors and extensors helps prevent plantar fasciitis, the formation of bunions, and hammer toes.
Which Type of Athletes and Fitness Enthusiasts Should Consider Assisted Stretching?

Our Assisted Stretching technique produces exceptional results for everyone! We typically see the entire spectrum of athletes, from those who have reduced mobility as beginners, to the occasional weekend warrior, to elite and professional athletes in top form.

Many of our fitness focused clients don’t stretch enough, and therefore suffer from reduced flexibility and joint stiffness. Some of our clients stretch, but they don’t stretch correctly, so they experience frequent soreness and notice their posture is deteriorating. Insufficient or inaccurate stretching creates restricted muscles and circulation, and this can restrict recovery and even weight loss. Here are the types of active clients we help:

  • Marathon Runners, Elite & Professional Athletes who participate in competitive sports: we offer pre- and post-event stretches to ready them for the event.
  • Walkers and Joggers: for those who really need power going through their legs.
  • Regular Gym Attendees: fitness is their main goal, but they don’t stretch properly! They may find themselves plateaued, prone to injury, and with poor recovery rates.
  • Weekend Warriors: those who overdo it and need our help on Monday because they’re sore!

Our technique alleviates the lactic acid buildup for quick muscle recovery. We teach our clients about neuromuscular education and how the body should be functioning. They achieve that performance level, maintain the performance, and reduce these injuries through their newly found knowledge.

What To Expect From Your Assisted Stretching Session

Our Assisted Stretching program for active clients is a process–it takes about 3 to 4 weeks. For new clients, for the first month, we recommend one session per week at a minimum. Most clients experiencing cervical issues need two sessions per week, and some severe cases benefit from three sessions per week. As issues resolve, maintenance visits of two times per month are sufficient.

We develop a partnership with our clients. Our role is to teach you to recognize the sensory input from your own body. You will develop a knowledge and appreciation for what the Assisted Stretching regimen does for your overall health and wellness.

You will also be provided with stretching techniques you can do at home. It is important that you learn proper techniques to play an active role in your own well-being. These techniques force people to focus on themselves, something people don’t do much of in today’s hectic world!

A typical Assisted Stretching session lasts one hour. After you settle down into a relaxed and neutral position, our practitioner will start getting information about your body, walking through the muscle groups, looking at what’s going on in the tissues, how the muscles are moving, and how that’s related to what’s going on the neck, shoulders, lower back and the hips. We will always walk you through every step of the process, explaining and educating as we proceed.

We then go from the top of the body all the way down to the bottom of the body and exiting through the feet. Our clients always know that we evaluate, stretch, and balance the entire body, looking from one connection to the next connection.

When we are working on you, we always think of what you, the client, are feeling and how we can make you stay connected to what we are stretching by following your breathing patterns. We believe knowing our client’s bodies, their rhythm, and how their body moves is key to getting the most benefit out of your stretching session.

Getting The Most Out Of Assisted Stretching At Living Well Balanced

If your goal is to be vibrant, healthy, and well balanced, you will get the maximum benefit to athletic performance by combining our Assisted Stretching program with other services offered at Living Well Balanced.

We know that stretching is not the be all and end all. We have the confidence and understanding to recommend other therapies you should be doing to get the most out of your stretching.
We recommend chiropractic adjustments for a balanced nervous system, cryotherapy for speedy recovery and nutrient delivery to your tissues, therapeutic sports massage that can amplify deep tissue work, nutritional counseling and supplementation for your diet, and personal training for a one on one guided fitness program to accelerate results.

We designed Living Well Balanced to offer all of these, and more, services as a one-stop-shop for all of your fitness needs. Feel free to ask your stretching practitioner which of our other services you will benefit the most in combination with your stretching program.