What are the benefits of assisted stretching and how you can incorporate this modality into a massage session?
What is assisted stretching?
In basic terms, assisted stretching is a technique where one person helps another person stretch. It has been used in athletic training setting for many years and has recently made its way into gyms, spas, and stretch center available to the general public.
Assisted stretching uses specific techniques to increase mobility and flexibility of a muscle or group of muscles. It requires advanced training in the way the body moves and is often done by massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors and athletic trainers. Assisted stretching is a gentle technique that can be used not only on generalized clientele, but also on children, adults, the elderly and those with physical disabilities.
A typical session will include an extensive assessment of an individual’s physical health. A therapist conducting a session will look at a person’s range of motion, flexibility, limitations, alignment, pain and discomfort levels. They will also take into account their client’s goals and develop a stretch program that will gradually help them reach those goals.
With the assistance of a trained stretch therapist, a client can go deeper into a stretch safely, effectively and without injury. These sessions are fully customizable and act as an enhancement to a client’s current wellness program. Clients who are stretched often experience improved posture, pain relief, a reduction in stress, rejuvenation and an overall feeling of well-being.
Stretching Does a Body Good
Stretching is an essential component to maintaining good health. It supports our joints and muscles as well as our emotional health by reducing stress levels in the body. People who were once stiff and considered inflexible are feeling the benefits including improved posture, among other results, according to many published research studies.
A few of the most important benefits of stretching include improved circulation and posture, lowered stress and tension, and pain relief. Let’s examine each of these benefits.
1. Improved circulation
Low-intensity stretching performed on a regular basis can increase blood flow to tissues reducing blood pressure. Increased circulation to muscles delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to tissues and contributes to lowered muscle soreness.
2. Improved posture
Clients who practice stretching may feel like they are standing taller because when muscles are lengthened, proper alignment follows and posture improves.
3. Stress relief
Built up tension in the body increases muscle tension and stress. Stretching alleviates tension by slowly opening up the muscles on a cellular level.
4. Pain relief
Restricted movement can cause pain and stiffness in the body. Stretching has been found to combat these symptoms.
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Stretching + Massage
As a massage therapist, you have the ability to implement assisted stretching into your practice. First, for established massage therapists, the client base already exists. You also have the background in anatomy and the manual therapy experience to work with clients one-on-one and to create personalized programs. Most massage therapists are already providing customized massage therapy treatments for their clients, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to add assisted stretching to your repertoire.
One way to incorporate assisted stretching is to offer combination sessions that pair shorter massages and short stretch sessions that are 30 to 45 minutes each, in order to stay within the 60- to 90-minute time frame clients expect. In addition, you can offer sessions that are equal parts massage and stretch.
Assisted stretching can open new streams of revenue for your practice, offer a fresh, new approach, and give your healing hands a rest after long sessions of massage.
This blog was curated from the article, The Massage Therapist's Guide to Assisted Stretching Techniques by Alyana Fraley published August 20, 2022. Read the full article here.
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