Therapeutic Stretching

I believe that at least some stretching should be included in any decent massage. There are clients that stretching makes them worse off; they are also the same clients that almost all massage modalities make them worse off. If the vast majority of muscle in a person's body is weak, they need strength work and not massage nor stretching. For everyone else, stretching used correctly is very helpful.

Many people have told me that they get the best, most lasting results from Thai Massage, which includes a number of systemic stretches. Gravity, bending forward, and looking down and forward tend to create the same imbalances in almost everyone. Thai Massage includes some stretches that counter forward and downward imbalances quite well. Most Thai therapists are doing the same routine on everyone, every time. I believe in applying a great deal more specificity. I do not limit myself to any particular approach to stretching.

I highly appreciate Aaron Mattes's Active Isolated Stretching. I use some of his stretches. I particularly like his psoas stretches.

Having a substantial exposure to yoga, I draw upon my understanding of asanas for specific therapeutic results. One of my favorite stretches comes from the second series of Ashtanga yoga, Parighasana, the Cross Beam of a Gate Posture. It opens up the low back one side at a time like no other approach I know. By the way, this is the final version of the posture. Anything approaching this also produces therapeutic results.

Picture of Parighasana

I've come to really appreciate using Thera-Bands for stretching and strengthening. The Thera-Band products provide quick, easy ways to work on otherwise hard to get to areas like the sides of the hips and the tensor fasciae latae muscle, for instance. I've recently added a number of Thera-Band exercises to my daily routine. One of my favorites is stretching the fingers apart. We mostly use our hands for gripping. The muscles in the hands and forearms become unbalanced based on over use in flexing. I put my hands one at a time into a Thera-Band with the fingers together and then stretch my fingers apart repeatedly. Also, I think using Thera-Bands to strengthen the back of the neck and stretch out the front is one of the best ways of addressing a reverse cervical curve, or military neck.

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