Is FST More Effective than Self Stretching?
How many times have you heard that stretching your muscles or warming up your body will help resolve any tightness you feel?
Whether you are prepping for a workout, trying to overcome joint pain, or working towards losing weight, stretching is commonly suggested as a good place to start. While the doctors, trainers or friends who might be telling you stretch more are not wrong, they’re not entirely right.
Consistent self-stretching (or stretching on your own) has many proven benefits, but that doesn’t make it your only or best option. For long-lasting benefits that improve your overall quality of life, consider Fascial Stretching Therapy. (FST). Unlike self-stretching, FST is a manually assisted technique usually done on a massage table.
With FST, a trained therapist guides you into positions and stretches that are specifically targeted at your body’s fascia, the connective tissue that holds your body together. What makes FST superior to self-stretching is that your therapist can provide a level of resistance that is difficult to achieve on your own. Furthermore, you can focus on relaxing and breathing, which makes you more flexible, while still gaining the benefits of a deep stretch.
FST was founded on ten principles in order to bring users the best possible experience.
- FST targets each joint entirely, instead of isolating muscles.
- By using traction, you get the maximum amount of lengthening.
- FST stretches the body across multiple planes, not just the sagittal plane (the anatomical boundary that exists between the left and right sides of the body). This is designed to increase flexibility in a way that mimics real-life use of your body.
- A session of FST follows a logical order: first the joint, then the shorter muscles and fascia, followed by longer muscles and fascia.
- FST achieves a broad range of motion without discomfort or pain. Contrary to popular belief, stretching is not supposed to hurt, and bracing for that pain actually does more harm than good.
- Stretching the fascia along with the muscles makes a big difference. Stretching isolated muscles only targets 10% of your nerve endings, ignoring the extra 10% located in your fascia.
- Using contract-relax techniques improves flexibility, allowing for deeper and more healthy stretching.
- Using synchronized breathing in conjunction with stretching for maximum benefits.
- Tuning the nervous system to current conditions.
- Personalizing the stretching to match the needs and goals of the client.
These ten principles are what make FST a much more effective solution than self-stretching. In the hands of a licensed professional, you can see some of these benefits almost immediately.
Over time you will see even greater benefits that will have a long-lasting impact on your overall health, including:
- a greater range of motion and flexibility
- improved muscular balance and symmetry
- greater athletic performance
- reduced joint and muscle pain
- reduced risk of sports or exertion-related injuries
- improved posture
- improved muscular function
- improved circulation
- less pressure and strain on your joints
- greater energy throughout the day
Stretching on your own can be very helpful and healthy if done responsibly. However, you owe it your body and yourself to get the best possible help. Fascial Stretching Therapists, like us at Function 4 Life, can help you achieve the best possible stretch so that you can become the best possible you!