What Is Fascial Stretch Therapy and How Does It Work?
When most people think about taking care of their bodies, they think about taking care of their bones, muscles, and organs.
After all, if you’re going to suffer from a problem, it’s likely going to have to do with one of those three things, right?
While you definitely should be looking after your bones, muscles, and tissues, there’s another part of the body that you don’t want to forget about: your fascia.
Fascia refers to the network of connective tissue that runs through your entire body. One of the best ways to take care of your fascia is through fascial stretch therapy.
But, what is fascial stretch therapy?
Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about this therapy and how it works.
What Is Fascial Stretch Therapy?
Fascial stretch therapy is a type of table-based assist stretching that focuses on your fascia and joint capsules. Focusing on fascia helps improve strength, mobility, flexibility, and performance.
To put it into simpler terms, it’s a pain-free method of stretching that’s often performed on a massage table and is known for providing almost instantaneous results.
The main distinction between fascia stretching and other types of stretching is that with fascia stretching, a therapist stretches your body as opposed to you stretching yourself. And, instead of focusing on an individual muscle or a group of muscles, fascia stretching focuses on how the fascial tissues interact with your body’s muscles.
By following the planes and lines of fascial tissue, therapists are able to help you achieve a greater range of motion without producing any pain.
An FST session might look something like this: You dress in loose, comfortable clothing and lie on a cushioned massage table. Your certified therapist then manually shifts and rotates your body.
For example, they may pull on your arms and legs to create traction. As they do this, you’ll be instructed to take deep breaths at various tempos.
This combination of breathing and stretching allows the nervous system, fascia, and muscles to relax.
Fascia Stretching vs Muscle Stretching
So, what does fascia stretching look like compared to muscle stretching? To get a better idea of how they differ, let’s take a look at the different types of muscle stretching:
Dynamic stretching involves repeatedly moving different groups of muscles. Some different types of dynamic stretching could be walking lunges, high knees, or leg swings.
This type of stretching helps prepare the body for more strenuous activity.
Arguably the most well-known form of stretching, static stretching involves holding a certain position for 30-60 seconds.
This type of stretching helps to elongate certain muscle groups. Static stretching should only be performed at the end of a workout, as this is when the muscles are properly warm.
An example of static stretching would be reaching to the floor and touching your toes.
The final form of stretching is ballistic stretching. This involves using your body’s momentum to bounce in a stretched position.
This will help to push your muscles beyond their normal range of motion. Bouncing up and down while continuously touching your toes would be an example of ballistic stretching.
This is considered to be an uncontrolled form of stretching, as you never hold the final position.
As you can see, none of these types of stretching involve working with a therapist. And, these types of stretches all target the muscles.
Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy
So, why should you bother with fascial stretch therapy? Pretty much everyone can benefit from fascial stretch therapy. But, it’s particularly beneficial for:
- People with chronic pain
- People who are rehabbing from an injury
- People who lead active lives
- People who train regularly
Now, let’s talk about some of the top benefits of FST:
One of the biggest benefits of fascial stretch therapy is that it can help alleviate physical pain.
If you experience tightness in your fascia, you’re more likely to succumb to unnatural postures and motions. This can increase your chance of injury and put unwanted pressure on your nervous system.
Fascial stretch therapy works to relieve tension in your fascia, which in turn relieves pain.
If you’re an athlete, fascial stretching is definitely something worth trying out.
Many scientists believe this form of stretching can help you run faster, increase flexibility, boost endurance, lift heavier, and improve coordination.
If you have lingering tension or tightness anywhere in your body, it can decrease circulation.
Luckily, FST helps to reduce tension and tightness and therefore, it increases blood flow. This can be especially great for diabetics or other people who suffer from poor circulation.
By stretching the fascia, you help to break up scar tissue and increase the range of motion in areas that are injured.
And, due to the increased circulation that results from FST, blood can reach your muscles faster, which in turn helps speed up your recovery.
While fascial stretch therapy won’t directly result in weight loss, it does help facilitate physical activities that lead to weight loss.
When you can move without experiencing pain, you’re a lot more likely to be motivated to exercise.
Are You Ready to Give Fascial Stretch Therapy a Try?
As you can see, there are a lot of great reasons to try fascial stretch therapy. Your next step should be finding a therapist who’s qualified to perform this type of stretching.
If you don’t find someone who is properly qualified, you may end up prolonging your injuries and pain, so it’s very important to do your research.
Also, if you liked this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more health-related tips and tricks.