Many people wonder what the difference is between regular athletic type stretching and myofascial stretching. The main difference is with myofascial stretching there is a “low load, long duration” hold. Low load means that you hold the stretch at a tension just below your pain threshold. Long duration involves holding the stretch a minimum of 90-120 seconds.
In addition to low load and long duration are the components of ENAGING the barrier and then LENGTHENING/ELONGATING/TELESCOPING the specific area of the body with the intent to bring space and fluidity to that area.
For example, the process of a shoulder stretch might be demonstrated as follows:
- Slow your breathing and begin to bring increased awareness into your shoulder.
- Move the upper extremity to the desired position to where you feel pain and back down just below the pain.
- Begin to elongate or telescope the arm and hold the stretch until you feel a softening or lengthening and then take up the slack as you deepen the stretch and allow your body to move into the next position in space.
- With a longer timeframe, the stretch can move from a local focus to a more global whole body focus connecting distant body parts and increasing our body awareness.
- As the body continues to soften and take up the slack, movement can occur. Allow your body to follow the movement without forcing.
Myofascial stretching will not injure and will provide relief from pain if performed within these guidelines.
Robert Hendryx, LMT