What is Fascial Stretch Therapy?
In order to understand the benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy, it’s important we first understand what ‘Fascia’ actually is, or in formal terms; ‘Myofascia’. Most people are unfamiliar with the term ‘fascia’ and to be honest, most health professionals didn’t familiarize themselves with its role in the human body until its importance was recognized over many years. Yet… some still don’t know!
Fascia is like a 3D spider web of connective tissue made up of collagen fibers that cover our entire body head to toe. It is now known that fascia has numerous roles in our body, one of which is assisting in the function of muscles and ligaments, acting as a sliding surface to enable overall movement in our body.
Based on leading research provided by specialist Thomas Meyers, there is thought to be 7 fascial ‘lines’ in the human body. One of which is the ‘Superficial Back Line’, which connects and runs from the bottom of the foot, calves and hamstring. It then travels into our lower back and along our spine to the top of our skull.
The ‘superficial back line’ is just one example of how our body is an interconnected network, much more so than originally thought in early textbooks and studies. It also presents the idea of movement being solely based around joints and muscles as a slightly outdated concept. When we look at the body as an interwoven, intricate system we begin to see how small issues can often cause bigger issues down the line.
Ok, let’s test the theory!
Try pinching a section of your t-shirt and slightly twisting it. Do you notice how the rest of the shirt begins to crinkle and pull towards the place of tension? That is exactly what happens when there is stress or trauma caused to fascia!
Repetitive strain and stress such as long durations of inactivity (sitting at a desk) can cause particular stress to the body by tightening and pulling it, creating thicker layers of fascia built up in areas of our body. This leads to lack of flexibility and mobility throughout the entire body.
Issues that we feel with tightness and lack of mobility in the back of the hamstrings can really be starting from the hips, mid back or even the bottom of your foot! This is why, sometimes when we repeatedly stretch that one isolated muscle such as the hamstring, we just don’t feel any improvement.
So, that’s the problem, but what is the solution?
Now that you have a better understanding of Fascia, we can dive into Fascial Stretch Therapy.
Fascial Stretch Therapy, also called FST, is a system of stretching that can rapidly eliminate pain, improve mobility, restore impaired function and enhance both athletic performance and recovery. The system is unique versus other style of therapy in the use sequencing breathing, layering PNF and providing traction to the joint capsule.
FST is done by a certified professional usually on a massage table, with straps to immobilize the limb not being worked on. This allows the therapist to utilize many different movements to assess the fascia and joint capsules. And then try to restore proper mobility and flexibility in troubled areas with FST stretching techniques.
Depending on the client’s needs and goals the session can be custom tailored to fit many individuals. From slow and relaxing wave sequence to calm the nervous system, to fast and aggressive pre-competition stretching. Everyone from seniors to professional athletes have found benefit from sessions with FST. Some of the many professional athletes that have benefitted from FST include; Donovan McNabb, Quarterback in NFL Mike Tyson, former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion and Charles Barkley of NBA. With the growing knowledge of FST and the benefits more and more professional teams and every day individuals are seeking the services of Fascial Stretch Therapists.
“Movements unique to FST will strengthen, lengthen and comprehensively balance your entire body. The brain and body are re-educated when neurological receptors called mechanoreceptors are stimulated because the majority of them are located throughout fascial tissue, which is the primary target of FST. Other receptors called ‘interoreceptors’ are also located throughout fascia, even around all the organs and have direct connections to deep parts of the brain (e.g. insula) that, among other things, are related to your sense of self and wellbeing.” – Chris Frederick Co-Creator
And a little about me, I am officially one of the highest certified Fascial Stretch therapists in Asia and one of only a few in the continent. I have personally completed my level 1 and level 2 Fascial Stretch Therapist courses in Phoenix, Arizona with the creators Ann and Chris Frederick of the Stretch To Win Institute. With plans on completing my Level 3 certification this December, I am committed to continued learning and practice in FST.
Previous success and experiences:
- I worked with a young athlete who had undergone hip surgery and had been suffering pain while playing ice hockey. After one FST session we diminished the amount of pain and worked to fully restore movement in key areas required for ice skating.
- I have worked on more than one middle age client suffering from years of back pain, often caused by long hours at a desk or in a static position. Through FTS, we managed to greatly reduced the amount of pain he experienced on a daily basis both at work and during activity.
- With a personal passion and professional experience working in boxing, I applied FST to several athletes on a boxing team who were experiencing pain and soreness in their shoulders, to have them almost immediately return to training and competition.
- I have worked on clients with a range of conditions from sciatica, scoliosis, frozen shoulders and impingent issues.
Many of our clients have already felt the benefits of FST in between training sessions, and most of my fellow trainers too! FST is an adaptable discipline with a range of solutions for many different issues.