Q & A about Assisted Stretching
What is assisted stretching? Assisted stretching can be any type of stretching that another person (partner, therapist, instructor) helps with.
What kind of tools is it used with (if any)? Instructors and therapists might use yoga blocks, straps, elastic bands or gym equipment to help in assisted stretching, but usually they will just use their hands to help with both body awareness and gentle intensification of the stretch. Of course, they can also teach clients how to use tools like the ones listed.
However, if a person does a stretch with a band by themselves, without the assistance of another person, it’s not assisted stretching, it’s just a stretch with a band.
What differentiates assisted stretching from yoga or traditional flexibility classes? In most yoga or stretching classes, the students do their stretches and other exercises by themselves, with verbal instruction. Rarely would an instructor touch them; in some states this is even forbidden. In very good classes, instructors might walk around and help individuals, sometimes lightly touching a body part to bring awareness to that area (for example in explaining what a flat back is), but not deepening or intensifying a stretch. There are some rare classes in which assisted stretching is done by instructors but they usually don’t have time to do this for several students, and it can be harmful when done in a hurry.
What are some of the benefits for clients? Some clients, especially those new to exercising and stretching, can have trouble finding the muscles they want to stretch. Assistance can help them gain that awareness so they can learn some truly effective stretches. For experienced and highly aware clients and athletes, assistance can deepen the stretch to an otherwise inaccessible level, or it can reach areas that can’t be stretched easily by oneself. There are also stretching modalities – like PNF stretching – that improve range of motion significantly, and are more effective with assistance than without.
What are the top 3 reasons clients seek assisted stretching therapy?
- To help relax muscles that are uncomfortably tight;
- To gain functional mobility after problems like frozen shoulder; and
- To improve athletic performance.
Is there anyone it’s not recommended for?
- Pregnant women should be careful with stretching in general, and particularly with assisted stretching, because specific hormones weaken connective tissues around joints to prepare for birth.
If these areas are overstretched, it can lead to instability, which frequently happens with the SI-joints, causing symptoms of sciatica.
- The above is a problem in general with deep, long-held, intense stretches, particularly with clients who already are very flexible. The underlying idea is that if the muscles are already flexible, which is the case when the client can easily get into a deep stretch, then the next structure affected by the stretch is actually not muscle, but the joint’s ligaments, which can be harmful to the joint.
- Acute injuries, especially muscle and tendon tears, should NEVER be stretched before they are completely healed. In cases of tendons and ligaments, that can take several months.
How long have you been offering it? We’ve been offering assisted stretching since we opened Balance Orlando in September 2008.
How much do you charge for it? (per mins) $55 for a half-hour session, or $45 for a first-time Consultation & Tryout. Our therapists often use assisted stretching together with massage and bodywork treatments.