Myofascial Stretching; how is it different?

P1000072I would estimate from what my clients tell me, that maybe ten percent of them stretch before starting to exercise. And of those that do stretch, maybe only half of those use myofascial stretching as opposed to traditional stretching. Typically, people are trying to help themselves feel better, but in reality, they are sabotaging their efforts by not stretching correctly or at all. Of those that do stretch, they can enhance their performance and reduce injury by using myofascial stretching.

So, what’s the difference?

Traditional stretching which is still widely used by most physical therapists, athletic trainers and personal trainers teaches you to hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds and usually for 3-5 repetitions. Some you may notice that some people even bounce while engaging the stretch. While this type of stretching can provide some positive effect on your muscles, it is only for the short term. To fully engage the soft tissue for a truly effective stretch, it is necessary to release the fascia too.

Why is this important?

We know from science that fascia is stronger than muscle, so it follows that if there is a unreleased fascial restriction preventing the muscle from reaching its potential it will not function properly and in fact, may lead to injury.

Myofascial stretching is different in two basic ways. First, it does not force the stretch like traditional stretching. Start the stretch and when you feel the first hint of a pull, stop and back off from that. It’s almost like an imaginary stretch in your mind. Allow your body to lead you and follow it as it releases. The second major difference is that we hold the stretch for three to five minutes. It takes at least a minute and a half to three minutes for a fascial restriction to get one to two releases, so that’s why we suggest holding longer than that.

You can use myofascial stretching in place of your regular stretching no matter what area you’re trying to stretch. Also, with myofascial stretching, you can use a 4″ ball (as shown in the above photo), a foam roller, a Nola Rola ™ or whatever else you typically use while stretching.

Just remember, never force the stretch and give yourself enough time to stretch before you exercise. You will be amazed at how much better your body feels when you start using myofascial stretching in your routine.

Call me at 916-363-7173 if you have questions about this article and to set myofascial release therapy appointments. I offer one hour individual instruction covering myofascial stretching, use of the 4″ ball and foam roller. I will customize the class to your specific needs.

You can also contact Sara Beacham at B Fit Physical Fitness with questions about stretching. She specializes in helping runners of all levels reach their goals. Her website is https://www.chicobfit.com/ and FB page is https://www.facebook.com/chicobfit?fref=ts.

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Why Suffer?

It is an interesting question?  A colleague of mine gave an example of her picking up groceries into both arms, struggling to get to the door and when arriving at her door, had no free hand to open it.  She wondered “why struggle? What can I do to lighten the load and complete this same task with less struggle.”

Indeed, why do we struggle in our daily lives to accomplish the simplest tasks?  Of course, this space doesn’t allow for an in-depth answer or discussion, but the list really is almost endless and is as unique as each of our own life experiences.  Full of false realities, full of walls that hold us back from our own healing.

What would happen if we actually noticed these things as we did them, noticed how we felt. You know… that feeling of anger, frustration that we all feel at doing the same thing over and over, usually accompanied by some self-deprecating phrase.

Over time we start to take in these negative thoughts and feelings resulting in dis-ease in our bodies.  Symptoms of discomfort such as headaches, muscle and nerve pain, etc.  Again, even the simplest of things, seemingly unimportant or insignificant can make a huge difference of how you feel in the long-term.

Ask yourself what you would feel like if you changed.  My friend asked “What can I do to ease the pattern of struggle?”  In other words, “how’s that workin’ for ya”?  A word of caution, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t change as fast as you want.  These patterns probably have taken many years to evolve.

So why suffer and struggle when you can have the pain-free, stress free life you want and deserve.  You don’t know how good you can really feel.  If we start becoming more aware, suddenly we have so many more choices in our own healthcare and wellbeing.

If you are feeling stuck in the same old patterns and feeling unable to change, the John F. Barnes approach to myofascial release (JFB-MFR) may be just what you need.  I can safely help you feel better and allow for change using this most comprehensive and effective mind/body therapy ever developed.

If you are not in the Sacramento area and need a referral to a therapist in your area, I can help with that as well.

Be good to you.