Flexibility, stability, strength and power.
These are the essential components of exercise science. Each component has its moment in time, fades in popularity, only to come back again, but with new scientific tested improvements.
Flexibility training is in vogue once again, but this time, it has evolved to have an assistant. The past decade has seen a surge of interest and growth in practitioner-assisted stretching.
Professional sports teams are now incorporating active isolated stretching (AIS), proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), and other practitioner-assisted stretching techniques into their programs.
Yoga has seen a 50% increase in the U.S. in recent years, now engaging some 37 million people. Yet there will always be a high percentage of the public not comfortable getting into yoga postures and chanting mantras in a warm confine amongst other yogis.
For those who recognize the importance of range of motion to their overall quality of life, practitioner-assisted stretching is quickly becoming the go-to option.
Practitioner-assisted stretching sessions require the help of another person to be properly stretched. Assistance allows the recipient to perform stretches that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. It helps deepen stretches and improves results.
This type of stretching should be performed with special care and by a well-trained practitioner. To prevent over-stretching, the practitioner must also be skilled in establishing good communication and mutual trust with the subject in order to be able to gauge the stretch reflex (the reflex contraction of a muscle in response to stretching).
The limiting factor to achieving full range of motion is not the length or elasticity of muscles but the nervous control of muscle tension via the stretch reflex. How they approach it is what differentiates each stretching modality.
A stretching session is similar to a personal training appointment, in that you simply show up for a 30- to 60-minute session. Your practitioner will systematically position, stabilize and carefully stretch you through a carefully planned stretch regimen.
Unlike fitness training or yoga, there is no sweat. You lie on a comfortable stretch table while a stretch practitioner does all the work, with you and your muscles getting all the benefits.
It won't be long before your posture, range of motion and flexibility will be greatly improved.
Terri Reiff is the owner of the local Stretch Zone franchise.