In our last blog post we briefly discussed the use of stretching for reducing pain, increasing flexibility, relaxing the body, and improving the cardiovascular system. We touched upon finding stretches on YouTube and are they the best ones for you? Stretches can be done in different ways and have varying benefits. This blog post will focus on ‘myofascial’ type of stretching.
What is myofascial stretching? Myofascial simply means muscle and fascial stretching. Fascia is the connective tissue of the body that surrounds muscle tissue (and all other tissues and every cell of the body) and under a microscope can look like a spider webbing.
How could a fascia focused stretch be different than a muscle focused one? . That’s a great question.
Most stretching effects the muscle tissue by causing a relaxation response due to stretching’s effect on the nervous system. These effects happen quickly. Fascia is a different story. In order to have an effect on the fascia a stretch has to be held for a minimum of about one and a half minutes. Initially the elastic component of the fascia is stretched, but with longer holds the elastin ‘releases’ and allows you to stretch into the denser fascia called collagen. John F. Barnes, a renowned physical therapist, suggests holding the stretches for 3-5 minutes for the most benefit. There has been research that has shown longer holds can boost the immune response by releasing important immune chemicals.
What are the pros to myofascial stretching?
What are the cons?
If you want to focus stretching on your fascia here’s how to do it.
* Remember do not stretch or push into pain. Stretch sensation/'discomfort' is ok.
Go ahead and give this type of stretching a try. If you are having difficulty and want to learn how to do these stretches correctly then contact an expert. You may even want to experience what it feels like to have a hands-on myofascial release session. At Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness part of our expertise is in John F. Barnes myofascial release. If you are having pain or discomfort or just want to experience deep relaxation we can help. Feel free to give us a call and get on the phone with a Physical Therapist. We are happy to answer any questions you have about myofascial stretching or John F. Barnes myofascial release.
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