The more flexible we are, the less likely we will incur serious injury when engaging in sports activity. So a regular stretching program is necessary at any age, to keep those hard working muscles strong but flexible. Don’t you wonder why it takes so long to see results, if you get them, from “stretching routines?” One of the main reasons is because we are not stretching long enough or deep enough!
Myofascial Stretching uses four basic principles that engage the elastic component of the connective tissue that regular stretching involves, and the collagenous component for a complete myofascial release. The first principle is the time element; you must hold your stretch for 90-120 seconds for the fascia to begin to release, and 3-5 minutes for additional releases to occur. The second principle involves the concept of active elongation; as you stretch, you reach or telescope the part being stretched to involve a larger, fuller elongation of the tissues. Thirdly, you must be consciously present while stretching, focusing on the tension in the tissue and breathing into the tension to feel the tissue slackening. The fourth principle is the change. Simultaneous stretching and strengthening occurring during elongation creates lasting change – the isometric contractions of the muscles against the resistance of the tight fascia help to maintain the elongation of the tissue.
It is important to experience the feeling of myofascial release with a therapist who can guide you through the process so that you can recognize the releases at home. During myofascial stretching, you are encouraged to experiment and move with the tissue, to go deeper, which often leads to a regional unwinding of the fascia in a larger area of the body. This can be intense, but it results in a wonderful release! This can help you reclaim some flexibility as well as the energy lost from the constant tightness in your musculature. Sound is also encouraged, as it can be a key to helping release emotions and the tissue memory associated with the area you are stretching.
The Myofascial Stretching techniques can be incorporated into your weekly self-care practices, such as walking, running, yoga, or even during a break at the office.
Remember, ST—R—E—T--CH yourself, and your attitude will be more flexible too!
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