by Kerry Andersen
Most of us do it. The alarm rings. We stand up, throw our arms up in the air and – stretch – a most satisfying stretch. Then we do something that can cause harm to our bodies without even realizing it – we sit down at a desk and continue to sit there hour after hour. Sitting in one position and lack of movement is wreaking havoc on our bodies causing aching backs and lack of flexibility. That morning stretch, or any stretch you do on your own, is simply not enough to fix our range of motion problems or reduce the pain in our backs and hips.
That’s where Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) can help. FST is a form of table based assisted stretching that focuses on the fascia in your body. This often-overlooked network of connective tissue surrounds your muscles, nerves, bones, joints, and organs. If you’ve been injured and lost range of motion and flexibility, it’s a safe bet your fascia was involved. If you are a weekend warrior, stretch therapy can even prevent injuries and improve your athletic performance. It can lengthen your muscle system and accomplish more in a few short sessions than stretching on your own for months.
FST is a painless method of stretching performed on a massage table by a trained therapist that can provide almost instant results addressing your flexibility issues and unresolved pain. Expect to be strapped to the table for extra support. The seatbelt-like straps help to stabilize, properly position, and isolate the muscles to be manipulated. Then a therapist guides your body into a series of stretches pushing you just outside of your comfort zone each time to build your stretch tolerance and increase your active range of motion. They do the work, and you get the benefits!
Stretch Therapy can:
Most participants describe the process as relaxing because stretching reduces cortisol levels and boosts energy by releasing endorphins. Even though it is a low-impact activity, if you have ongoing health concerns it’s always advisable to check with your doctor before starting your first stretching session. Wear athletic gear or something easy to move in to get the most benefit from your time on the table.
Stretch studios are popping up all over Louisiana and the rest of the country. Former Saints Quarterback Drew Brees is such a believer in FST that he joined Stretch Zone as a franchise partner, board member and brand ambassador after experiencing just one session while visiting a San Diego studio location. He and his business partners will now be opening Stretch Zone (stretchzone.com) studios in Louisiana, Southern California, and the Midwest. There are three locations already in New Orleans and four planned for Baton Rouge. Brees has incorporated practitioner assisted stretching as part of his training and recovery regime for years to maximize fitness gains and prevent injury. Now that treatment is available affordably for anyone looking to feel better but especially those with chronic back and hip pain, people who are active and train regularly, or those who are rehabbing an injury.
Most stretch therapy providers offer a free introductory session so you can get a feel for what to expect and how it can help you. You can find stretch therapy in Lake Charles at Premier Personal Training. Session prices range from $36-75.