Let’s continue this discussion about stretching with the concept of “partner” stretching. As a therapist we are our clients’ partners and we have schools now available for training or CDs to teach the nuances. I know that many therapists are in fact stretching their clients with great success. For those of you who haven’t started yet and are considering it as an additional tool, one word of caution, you can’t feel what they are feeling, and the moment that you have caused pain and gone too far it might be too late. So, if you begin to stretch your clients, just always make sure to be very aware of the “end point” as I call it, either of muscular tension or bone structure.
I actually wasn’t truthful in part one of this article because I do use proprioceptive neural facilitation (PNF) stretching in my practice. But ONLY when I believe that the client’s painful condition will improve by using that technique. I also teach the client how to do it and use it 2 or 3 times a week. The results are often astounding as many painful conditions are due to one set of muscles being shortened to the point of creating imbalances.
If I am going to teach my clients a little bit about stretching, this is how I proceed. I first tell them why they need to incorporate stretching into their daily lives. Flexibility and youth are synonymous. Lose your flexibility, lose your youth. I am not talking about the flexibility that many are genetically gifted with, I am talking about your ability to create more length in the muscle tissue and by doing so, remain able to do the sporting events you care to participate in and hopefully prevent injury. I knew a girl in her 30’s who had never stretched a day in her life and was able to sit in full lotus and grab the feet with the opposite hand! Some might never achieve that, and it’s not necessary.
- It’s important to warm up, so let’s call it a general warm-up. This includes some form of cardiovascular challenge (you choose it) for 5 minutes and some dynamic stretching.
- These dynamic stretches should resemble whatever sport you may be involved in, just think about your sport and move your limbs. Joint rotations of say 12 in each direction from caudal to distal is valuable and simple. In other words, rotate your ankles in each direction unit they feel free and then move up to the knees, to the waist, the spine up to the neck, shoulders, elbows wrists and finally fingers or the reverse of that. Its serves to warm up the synovial fluid and to potentially create better balance in the musculature. This might take 5 minutes at most. Then follow with some larger movements, say the legs moving from the front to the side to the back. Raising the leg with dynamic movements and not holding it in the end range of movement. Then proceed to your passive active movement that might contain PNF type isometric approaches as well.
- And finally the main part of the program that is designed for you or your clients. There are tons of programs on line or books like Anderson’s, that give you sample programs for each discipline you might be involved in. If you are designing a program for your client, obviously you need to educate yourself as to the best program they can use for their needs, so that the painful condition they have brought to the table no longer plagues them.
- Finally a cool down period. Which is just that, a gradual slowing down of the intensity of the stretches with a bit more of the passive quality to it.