Everyday, I work with clients and during our sessions, I do a lot of bodywork, moving and stretching. I let new clients I work with know this during the initial assessment interview, and occasionally there is someone who says, for one reason or another don’t stretch me! This is typical because they not understand the benefits of stretching or the way the stretches can be performed during a massage, and typically start to assume it will disrupt any relaxation, or even be counterproductive, and in some cases, when already dealing with pain or injury, clients worry about the pain or injury being increased due to movement. So, let’s look at some of these things and see if I can answer some questions and get all of us feeling better and moving better by moving around.
What is stretching? Simply put, it is taking something to its fullest possible length. With muscle, this is taking the muscle beyond its “normal” resting and moving position. And going “beyond its normal” is different for all of us, especially when we deal with pain, injury, and each individual persons’ daily activities, which with these considerations, may limit the muscles’ full potential. As muscle therapists, we work with each client so as to improve the function and flexibility of the particular muscle and joint.
Why should you stretch? And why should your therapist stretch you during a massage? Stretching helps to make you more aware of your body. Helps you to understand what your movements are, what they are not, and what they should be. Stretching during a massage helps to loosen tight muscles, reduce pain, increase the range of motion, and retrain the muscle to work to its fullest potential. Your therapist should be incorporating stretch and movement techniques into the massage session.
Over the next couple of updates, I will cover more topics on what is stretching, the different types of stretches, how to stretch properly, and when is a good time to stretch, and when are the different types of stretches more effective.
Lance Thompson, LMT