Stretch Therapy Techniques
On this page you'll find out about the specific techniques that we use in our stretch therapy treatments. These include our primary methods of therapeutic stretching, soft-tissue release, vibration therapy and recovery.
Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)
With Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) it is possible to stretch someone of any age, gender, or condition due to its gentleness. AIS utilizes an assisted stretch by the practitioner, as well as active effort on the client’s part of contracting the opposing muscle or muscle group. The goal of AIS is to provide only enough force which is required to provide a stretch, and then once reaching the end-point, only hold it for about 1 1/2 to 2 seconds before returning to the starting point. Then, a brief rest is taken before reactivating the stretching sequence. Anywhere from 1 to 10 sequences make up a stretching ‘set’, just like in working out. Multiple sets may be used at the discretion of the practitioner, depending on the individual case.
Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching
Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching bridges the gap between stretching and strength training. For the sake of organization, we are going to include it in our stretching section because the outcome of Ki-Hara is to delivery a more effective stretch by providing active resistance while stretching. This is accomplished by the client providing a gentle, active movement, while the practitioner stabilizes the joint and provides a greater force of resistance. This gently overpowers the active muscle and activates an eccentric contraction, or a stretch while under active resistance. The positive effect of this technique has been proven by its use on Olympic athletes to simultaneously train and elongate muscle fibers for greater flexibility and strength.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, or more simply known as PNF, is the gold standard of stretching in the field of physical therapy. It is comprised of a series of stretching techniques that combine patterns of eccentric and isometric muscular contractions, with brief periods of relaxation, while active resistance and stabilization is provided by the practitioner. The stretching patterns of PNF are designed for building stabilization in the targeted joint, rehabilitating neuromuscular activation and elongating muscle tissue while under a constant or intermittent force of pressure. All of these elements make it an essential part of almost any type of rehabilitation program.
Fascial Stretch Therapy
Fascial Stretch Therapy is a technique of stretching that specifically targets the myofascial tissue, a thin tendon-like sheath that wraps around your muscles. By thoroughly releasing these fibers, your muscles are able to more easily stretch and stay stretched for a longer period of time. This technique is most easily accomplished by relaxing your muscles in a passive fashion. While you remain relaxed and focused on breathing, the practitioner works your body into a variety of assisted stretches. The technique mainly consists of multiple push-hold progressions, while attempting to get into the deepest position during each passive ‘rep’ of stretching.
Sports Therapy Massage
Massage therapy can be a very relaxing and therapeutic experience. Sports Therapy Massage (STM) takes the therapeutic points of massage therapy and applies them in a more intensive fashion, making for an overall more therapeutically effective experience. Utilizing a more firm pressure, while still maintaining a gentle touch, STM is able to penetrate deeper into muscles, releasing even the toughest of muscle knots. STM is most commonly performed using a hand-over-thumb, thumb-over-thumb, elbow, knuckle or forearm technique, taking advantage of as much controlled pressure to provide substantial muscular release. Our STM also utilizes a special type of therapy cream that reduces inflammation while working, thereby reducing discomfort and extending workable treatment time.
Mashing is a relatively new form of bodywork that shares aspects of Thai-Massage with Japanese Shiatsu. It is mainly performed with the client laying on floor mats and the practitioner using a combination of hand, foot, elbow, forearm and fist pressure to ‘mash’ out muscle stiffness in a rhythmic or pressure-holding fashion. This unique approach allows the practitioner to use nearly every ounce of body-weight as leverage, providing a depth of pressure unavailable to other techniques. This extremely penetrative method allows for a whole new range of pressure previously unavailable to a practitioner for muscular release therapy.
Active Release Technique (ART)
Using Active Release Technique (ART) it is possible to elongate fibers that may have had a difficult time being released through soft-tissue release or stretching alone. Just as Ki-Hara bridges the gap between strength training and stretching, ART bridges a similar gap between soft-tissue release and stretching. While pinning a certain portion of muscle with say, an elbow, a movement is then performed, either actively by the client, or passively, assisted by the practitioner. In this way, the targeted muscle tissue can be both compressed, and elongated, through a stretch, encouraging a more intensive release than any soft-tissue release or stretching technique can while performed on their own.
Trigger Point Therapy
Certain points in all our muscles have nodes that can be stimulated for relaxation of an entire muscle’s fibers. These nodes are where our nerves connect to our muscle tissue and provide electric stimulation for muscular activation. Over time, these points of repeated stimulation can develop into acute areas of stress, known as nodules. Once nodules form, stress can then more easily spread to other areas in your muscle. Fortunately, this type of stress can be alleviated through Trigger Point Therapy. This release technique is performed by stimulating the nodules with an exact amount of acute pressure and in the correct pattern, thereby releasing the nodules, returning them to their original node form and restoring proper feel and function to the muscle.
The Deep Muscle Stimulator
In today's market there are more and more vibration therapy devices available to professionals and consumers alike. While they are all beneficial, each varies greatly in the delivery of it's vibration. Some provide temporary, minor relief, while others give deeply-penetrating stimulation.
One product in particular stands out as being the go-to medical device for vibration therapy. This device is known as the Deep Muscle Stimulator. It is used widely by medical professionals and professional sports team therapy staff.
In our therapy sessions you can expect to see the Deep Muscle Stimulator in almost every session because of its effective capability. It has a constant vibration - and this is direct from the manufacturer - that is set to the frequency of muscular relaxation. This is important, because regardless of the size, shape or density of the muscle we are working on, the DMS is able to thoroughly penetrate and relax the muscle from within. At the same time, the vibration acts as a pump, drawing fresh blood to the area, flushing out toxins out and bringing in fresh cellular nutrients.
It is also important to note that all the techniques mentioned on this page can be, and often are used in an alternating effort with vibration therapy. This intermittent vibration allows your muscles the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate between bouts of various stretching or soft-tissue release techniques.
Epsom salt can be very effective at promoting recovery and relaxation, especially after a long or intensive treatment session. We like to use topically infused Epsom salt creams for immediate relief and recommend Epsom salt baths at home to regularly promote muscular relaxation and shorten recovery time.
Biofreeze is our go-to for immediate stretching recovery. It comes in a topical spray that we apply post-stretch to improve recovery time and reduce inflammation and pain. The main active ingredient is menthol, along with other natural and homeopathic remedies.
Cryotherapy is a fairly new form of therapy popularized by professional athletes. It is a similar concept of icing an injury, but applied to your entire body and at temperatures down to -300 °F. This drastic, immediate cooling has the effect of eliminating inflammation, improving blood-flow and improving recovery time.