Many, many clients come in with problems that stretching can relieve. For several years, I’ve advocated a type of stretching called Active Isolated Stretching where the muscle is stretched for only 2-3 seconds, but the stretch is repeated anywhere from 10-30+ times.
Yesterday, NPR had a story that talked about a study that found that static stretching (putting the body into a stretch and holding it for 30s to a few minutes) didn’t prevent injury, and in some cases, seemed connected to a slightly higher injury rate.
A coach interviewed talked about a different kind of stretch – Active Isolated Stretching – that I’ve been advocating to clients for years. Targeted stretched for single muscles groups for a very short duration repeated many times. This has slowly gained popularity among athletes, coaches and other fitness experts.
“The best way to think of it is probably flexibility exercises,” he says. Rather than “bend and hold,” Sherry’s method emphasizes a more gentle cycle of 2- to 3-second stretches — and lots of repetitions.
via For Runners, Static Stretching May Be Outdated : NPR.
Check out the article. There’s a video on the page as well that demonstrates it. So next time you go to do a stretch, don’t do stretch and hold, do stretch and release – and increase the repetitions. (You can google AIS, Wharton Stretching or Aaron Mattes for more information on the technique.)
Qi and Eastern Theories of Wellness
Asian theories of health and wellness that form the basis of acupressure, tui na and shiatsu center around the concept of energy that all beings hold. This life energy, known as qi (pronounced “chee”), permeates living beings and the entire universe. Within humans, energy flows in certain pathways and patterns throughout the body – these are called meridians. Think of them as highways of energy that run from our head to our toes. Each meridian contains many points (acupoints) along it that, when stimulated, can effect the energy flow in the entire body. The meridians also intersect and can cause change to the qi flow in other meridians.
Healthy people have a good balance and flow of qi in their bodies. All of the acupoints are open and balanced when a person is in perfect health. Imbalance in qi causes dis-ease. An imbalance could be one meridian being overactive, or another meridian suffering from a lack of adequate energy flow. Energy blockages at the acupoints disrupt the flow of the meridians. On each of these energy highways, the specific points act as exit/entrance ramps to control the flow of energy. Acupressure stimulates the points with direct finger pressure to correct energy flow.
The way acupressure works revolves around a holistic approach to the body-mind-spirit. In a traditional sense, acupressure is more about wellness than controlling symptoms, although it can be used for pain relief, muscle soreness, gastro-intestinal issues or emotional/mental imbalance. Certain points relieve specific symptoms as well as correcting the energy balance. In the east, acupressure is sometimes a treatment given at regular intervals as preventative medicine.
Acupressure can be the only modality used during a massage therapy session, but it is more often combined with other modalities and integrated into a full session. It is also a modality that can be done with the client clothed and lying on the massage table. During a session, the therapist may hold points on the body and remain still for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. At times, she may hold two points together to focus on the energy flow between those points or meridians. It is a very quiet and still modality and can induce deep states of relaxation.