I first became aware of Fascial Stretch Therapy in 2011 when I was in massage school. I did not look too deep into it at the time because I was so focused on finishing school and just getting my new career started, so it quickly was forgotten in the back of my mind. I then graduated and went full throttle into my new career as a sports massage therapist. My clientele grew rapidly and I put all of my effort into building my practice.
Fascial Stretch Therapy came back to me early 2015 when one of my regular clients returned from a vacation in Southern California, and mentioned that he received the treatment from his personal trainer down there. When one of my long time clients says to me “It is my new favorite thing!”, I definitely heard that loud and clear because I always want to give my clients the best treatment possible, and believe in keeping up with new advances in my industry. I began researching it, found out where the workshops are, and booked a session for myself to see what it was all about. 6 months later, and after dropping $2,200 for the first class (well worth it by the way), I was in Tempe, AZ taking the Level 1 certification course at the Stretch to Win Institute.
4 months after that I took the Level 2 course, and completed Level 3 in October of 2016, which now makes me a Specialist. It has been a game changer for my practice. I still perform massage therapy when it is necessary, and the better tool for what is needed, but I would say around 75% of the clientele I have built over my career have began getting fascial stretch therapy treatments instead, or in combination with massage.
Fascial Stretch Therapy Explained
First off, this is not myofascial release. I feel the need to say that because many people think that is what I am talking about when I first mention it. Fascial Stretch Therapy is an assisted stretching program that his been thoroughly researched and designed by some of the top professionals in the industry. It is performed on a treatment table, using stabilization straps to hold limbs in place, giving the therapist better control and leverage when performing the stretches. The client feels more comfortable and is able to relax easier by not feeling like they are going to roll off the table.
There is no real way to fully describe the type of stretching you will receive without actually experiencing it. Many of my clients describe it as “yoga on crack”. Your body will be moved and stretched in ways that you just can not do on your own, with areas targeted for release that you likely have never felt before, or even realized how tight you were there. It works deep into the joint capsules of your body (almost 50% of our flexibility is locked up in our joints)…areas a therapist can’t reach with their hands, or with other methods of manual therapy.
Traction is a major component of the treatment. The therapist will apply gentle traction to the joint being targeted, opening up the joint and creating space for increased range of motion before taking the limb through the movement pattern, paying attention to the fascia restrictions that may need to be addressed. It is pretty pain free for the client, although some areas can be intense or uncomfortable if it is really restricted. The therapist will work slow through these areas and stay within your comfort zone.
Post-treatment clients tend to notice changes immediately once they get off of the table. A feeling of “lightness” and being more open is a typical description. Better posture without trying. Having them move around or do some stretches they notice more free mobility. It even makes you taller because it decompresses and creates space between all of your joints. My personal experience from my first day in my Level 1 class – I had one side of my body worked on – my right hip and leg. I got off of the table and performed a standard squat and I felt my right side drop inches lower than the other side that did not receive treatment. I was completely lopsided because only the one side had been worked on, but I was amazed at the changes that can be made in just one treatment session. This feedback from my clients is common, and I expect to hear those comments now. Clients have actually cried on my table after feeling release in areas of their body that they have not felt in over a decade, when they had already tried everything else and thought they just had to live with the pain.
Who Gets Fascial Stretch Therapy?
FST is still pretty unknown to most of the general public, although it is growing rapidly throughout the country, and the world. Professional teams and athletes have been using it for years as part of their treatment programs. The Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers all have FST therapists as part of their staff. The 2015 USA Women’s World Champion Soccer Team had an FST therapist as well. All over the country teams and pro athletes from all sports are starting to hire FST therapists (if they haven’t already) because of how beneficial the treatment is.
It is not just a treatment for athletes though, it benefits people of all ages and activity levels. We lose 10% of our flexibility for every 10 years that we age unless we actively work at maintaining it. My desk workers LOVE this treatment because of how immobile their bodies have become from sitting hunched over all day. There are new discoveries everyday in the continued research of fascia, and how treatment that targets this soft tissue component of our body positively affects us. There are just too many benefits to list!
Some Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy:
- Reduce and help prevent the risk of injury
- Improved posture and muscle function, which allows your body to move more freely
- Improve/Increase circulation, flexibility and range of motion
- Reduce or eliminate pain and soreness
- Promote development of body awareness, and increase balance and symmetry in the body
- Enhance physical fitness and performance, and helps to reach fitness goals
- Improved Recovery and Sleep
If you live in the Portland, OR area, and are interested in learning more about this amazing treatment you can check out our main Fascial Stretch Therapy Page on our website and see about making an appointment.