WHAT IS FASCIAL STRETCH THERAPY?

Fascial stretch therapy improves the mobility of your nerves & the flexibility of your muscles and fascia by focusing on the fascial lines that connect through and wrap around muscle, nerves, organs, and just about everything else in your body.

WHO IS FASCIAL STRETCH THERAPY FOR?

People of all ages can benefit from fascial stretch therapy, including any patient cleared by their physician for stretching and active movement, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes of all levels.

STRETCHING FASCIA VS. MUSCLE

Fascia surrounds each muscle, and connects them to each other both superficially and deep. It also connects tendons, ligaments, and bone to form a body-wide, functional network. Fascia connects to all of your organs and systems, too. By integrating a global perspective on stretching these fascial connections, we can reap twice the benefits as static stretching isolated muscle groups.

FST is completely different than yoga, and Pilates. It is completely compatible with other methods of therapy and training.

IS IT SCIENCE-BASED?

The first research into FST effects initiated in 1997 with founder Ann Frederick’s thesis. Current research on the effects of FST on chronic low back pain is being conducted with a team at the University of Arizona Medical School in Phoenix. FST is also based on the extensive science resources found at www.fasciaresearchsociety.org.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A TYPICAL FST SESSION?

Upon your first treatment, your fascial stretch therapist will ask specific questions, and assess the body based on any complaints, or questions you may have. Each session is catered to the client’s needs. All treatments are done on the table with two straps. The straps are there to hold the one leg in place, while the opposing one gets moved around. This assures a true stretch is occurring. For each stretch session, the client is expected to wear stretchy pants, or shorts, and a tank top or t-shirt. Short shorts are not recommended.

Mobility is often improved after the first treatment. The therapist will give you exercises to help maintain this after your first visit. More than one session is normally recommended. Each treatment plan varies with individual needs. Many report a decrease in stress, improved sleep, and significant decrease in pain in sometimes as little as three treatments.

IS IT PAINFUL?

Fascial stretch therapy is NOT painful. It is a gentle modality meant to help the client to relax and stretch out. If there is any pain, or pinching, the client must tell the therapist.

Contact SEMI today or book an appointment online to set up a consultation with one of the members of our trained and professional physiotherapist team in Toronto. Our team excels at treating sports injuries and other painful conditions, utilizing a variety of treatments, including fascial stretch therapy, to get you back to the activities you love.

Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST)

FASCIAL STRETCH THERAPY

What is Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST)?

Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) is a system of assisted stretching which focuses on the muscles, joints, and connective tissue. With the client on a treatment table, the therapist will help you stabilize your body as you are gently helped into specific stretches to help facilitate relaxation and movement into your joints and body.

What is Fascia?

Fascia is a network of layered connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones and joints. Restricted fascia and joint capsules can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, painful movement, increased muscle tightness, strains, tendon injuries, headaches, scar tissue formation, decreased blood flow and reduced energy levels.

What are the benefits of FST?

What makes this therapy different from other flexibility programs is that each stretch begins with a light traction of the joint being treated. This allows for a deeper stretch by creating more space in joint. This is an excellent treatment choice for those wanting to improve flexibility and mobility, recover from training, and prevent injury.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved posture & muscle function
  • Improved sport specific performance
  • Increase muscular strength and endurance
  • Reduce muscle tension and risk of injury
  • Increase balance and symmetry of the body
  • Reduce muscular soreness and fatigue
  • Help treat symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and facet joint dysfunctions

Fascial Stretch Therapy was popularized with athletes such as professional golfers, wrestlers, basketball players, and runners but is also very beneficial for anyone needing more flexibility such as office workers, manual labourers, and just generally stiff individuals.

FST is also a very powerful therapy that can be used to treat many conditions such as facet joint dysfunctions, tight hips, rotator cuff injuries, muscle strains, chronic headaches, knee tracking issues, plantar fasciitis, and pinched nerves.

10 Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy

Fascial Stretch Therapy (or FST), is a type of stretching that targets not only the muscles, but the fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints and connects the body as a whole. FST also targets the joints and joint capsules, using traction and oscillation to gently remove restrictions from movement and to stimulate lubrication. FST is a table-based assisted stretch where a therapist will gently pull and move the arms, legs, spine, and neck in a smooth motion through the client’s personal range of motion. There is no pain or discomfort during your FST session, only a gentle stretch that is stimulating, healing and relaxing.

1. Increase Range of Motion & Optimal Flexibility

2. Muscular Balance and Symmetry

3. Improved Movement Performance

4. Reduced Pain

5. Reduced Risk of Injury

6. Improved Posture

7. Improved Muscle Function

8. Improved Circulation

9. Decrease Compression and Impingement in the Joints

10. Improved Energy

Contact the office today to meet Samantha our Kinesiologist and let her show you how FST can improve your life!

Written by Samantha Jamieson – Kinesiology

The Benefits of Stretching and Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST)

In their book Stretch to Win, Ann and her co-author husband, Chris, describe FST as an undulating stretch—one that, in contrast to dynamic, static and ballistic stretching, involves moving the body in a wave-like motion and incorporating deep breaths that are synchronized with that movement. “It’s a synergistic approach during which the therapist and client stretch together,” he said. It’s not me stretching someone else—it’s the two of us together stretching that person’s body.”

Picture an FST stretch this way: You’re dressed in loose, comfortable clothing and lying on a cushioned massage table. Your therapist, who should be certified, manually shifts or rotates your body—for instance, by a sustained pulling of your arms or legs to create traction while you inhale and exhale deeply at various tempos and at certain junctures. This combination simultaneously allows the nervous system, the fascia, and the muscles to relax.

What Are the Major Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy?

“Fascial Stretch Therapy improves flexibility by creating an increased range of motion around each joint,” Brady said. “In the body, there’s a beautiful balance of stability and mobility, and if you can find that perfect balance where the joints are completely stable throughout the range of motion, you build a body that’s least susceptible to injury.”

In addition to reducing the likelihood of injury and increasing range of motion, Fascial Stretch Therapy has benefits including:

  • Reduction or elimination of stress
  • Decreased joint aches and pains
  • Greater balance and flexibility
  • Improved posture and mobility
  • Shorter recovery times after exercise sessions
  • Increased blood flow to exhausted muscles

Brendan Mundorf of the Denver Outlaws gets some help stretching before a lacrosse game.

Fascial Stretch Therapy even indirectly prevents muscle loss. “If a muscle or joint is designed to work in a full range of motion, and you only use it in a specific or limited pattern, that’s absolutely going to cause that muscle to atrophy and eventually lose its function,” Brady said.

In the years since Ann Frederick invented Fascial Stretch Therapy, the approach has been embraced by elite competitors and ordinary bench-pressers alike.

“This powerful form of stretching is being used by group after group, from the National Football League to the United States Olympic Committee,” Brady said. “And time and again, coaches and athletes are having great success.”

“As an FST therapist, I don’t usually have to convince my clients of the benefits,” Brady said. “At the end of their first session, they mention that they feel lighter and taller. Many have a kind of euphoric feeling. Their nervous system has calmed their body to a point where they experience a unique sensation.”

How Can an Exercise Newbie Start a Fascial Stretch Therapy Regimen?

While you can perform Fascial Stretch Therapy on your own or with a gym buddy, explained Brady, he urges beginners to first connect with an FST therapist before jumping into a regimen. While self-stretching does come with some benefits, the greatest benefits are experienced when a trained therapist guides the stretching. In part, that’s because your nervous system cannot totally relax when you stretch yourself—nor can you apply the same level of force to create the traction necessary for a full stretch.

“A Fascial Stretch Therapy session should begin with a thorough and proper assessment by a certified therapist,” Brady said. “The last thing you want to do is overly strengthen an already tight muscle or build a bad mobility pattern. Once you’ve been evaluated, your FST protocol can be tailored to specific parts of your body.”

A head-to-toe FST stretch typically lasts about an hour, said Brady. “The frequency of sessions is dependent upon client need,” he explained. “So when someone begins stretching—and I’m making a generalization here—that person usually needs a stretch once a week, and some might even need it twice a week just to start loosening and opening the body and learning these new patterns and ranges of motion. After we get the body on that path, we can often drop off to once every other week or even once a month.”

What is the Stretching Protocol Used by Fred Bartlit, Co-Founder of StrongPath.com?

“Fred is absolutely dedicated to a lot of activities, including skiing, golfing, and of course, his weight training,” said Brady, who guides Fred through an hour-long FST session once or twice a month. “In the beginning, we had to look at the series of stretches that would improve his performance in all three of those areas—it was about making progress the whole way.” So after providing Bartlit with a full and professional evaluation, Brady customized a plan that includes:

  • A focus on rotational stretching to enhance Bartlit’s golf game.
  • Lower-body stretching to keep his legs as strong as possible for enduring his strenuous leg workouts.
  • Upper-body stretching to improve his spiral patterns and flexibility during both skiing and golfing.

“Fred is a pretty regimented and disciplined gentleman,” Brady said. “He does what he does without failure and is extremely goal-oriented in terms of achieving his personal best. When Fred and I first talked about what stretching would do for him, his comment was, ‘I’m not going to waste my time on anything that won’t help me.’ And I said, ‘Fred, I guarantee you this will help you.’”

“After just a couple of sessions, he told me, ‘I wish I’d met you sooner.’ When you hear something like that from Fred, someone who has access to the best of the best, it grabs your attention. You know there must be a recognizable benefit, because if there wasn’t, Fred wouldn’t be involved. Anytime you can show someone who’s involved in weight training how FST will help him or her achieve those goals, that’s all the convincing required. This method of stretching will get you where you’re going faster.”

Some Research has Demonstrated That Fascial Stretch Therapy is More Effective Than Traditional Stretching—but do Dynamic, Static, and Ballistic Stretching Still Have a Place?

When it comes to increasing strength and flexibility, traditional stretching may no longer claim the limelight, yet when implemented correctly, it still comes with some upsides. Though studies on when and how to best stretch have had mixed results, scientists generally agree on stretching’s key benefit: an increased range of motion which, in turn, bolsters overall flexibility and performance. No, traditional stretching may not provide these benefits to the same degree that FST does, yet it’s still preferable to, say, never rising from your couch.

“It’s important to stretch for a host of reasons,” said Marci Kenon, an IFPA-certified personal trainer and lifestyle coach in Manhattan who trains clients both at Blink Fitness and through her site, MarciKenon.com. (Kenon received the “The Stretching Process” certification through the Center for the Advancement of Therapeutic Arts, or CATA). “Stretching not only helps us to move with greater ease and strength in day-to-day life—like when you need to carry some heavy bags of groceries up several flights of stairs—it also provides stress management for the body and mind.”

When it comes to ballistic stretching and the bounce that goes with it, however, Kenon encourages caution. “A lot of people bounce when they stretch, and that can inadvertently cause a tear in your muscles—which can lead to scar tissue, tightening, and decreased flexibility.”

Of the three traditional stretching methods, she strongly prefers dynamic stretching ahead of a sweat session. “You need to warm up both your muscles and fascia before you work out,” said says. “Your muscles are like rubber bands. When they’re cold, they can easily snap. Dynamic stretching or even a 10-minute walk on the treadmill sends nutrients and blood to your muscles—and that can prevent soreness, reduce the possibility of injury and, most importantly, set you up to reach your fitness and wellness goals.”

What are people saying about Fascial Stretch Therapy?

Fascia is essentially all of the connective tissue in the body. It is a tough covering, much like a sausage casing, that surrounds every muscle. It forms a vast supporting network found throughout the body and is continuous from head to toe. It is the white in the muscles shown here. The tendons that join the muscle to the bone, the joint capsules and the ligaments are all fascia. Scar tissue and adhesions occur within the fascia; these areas are typically more restricted and disorganized. In some places the fascia is thinner than nylon pantyhose, but in other places, such as the Iliotibial Band on the outside of the leg, it can be much thicker. Fascia is extremely strong.

Fascia thickens and hardens where there is chronic tension. Body workers consider fascia the “organ of form”. Like a coiled telephone cord, fascia holds imprints of our posture and old injuries. Thus, the fascia dictates our shape and freedom (or lack of) movement. All the nerves and blood vessels run through the fascia. Therefore, if the connective tissue is tight, the associated tissues will have poor nutrient exchange. This exacerbates any painful situation because toxic metabolic waste products build up which will further aggravate pain receptors. This creates a viscous cycle by creating more muscle tension, leading to further thickening and hardening of the fascia, which will further limit mobility.

Fascia tends to dry out as we age, becoming stiff and tight. The manipulations of Fascial Stretch Therapy help to stretch, lengthen, loosen and re-hydrate the tissue so it can be more supple and resilient. Regular movement through proper exercise and bodywork help to greatly reduce the fascia from stiffening.

Fascia Facts

  • fascia is the most prevalent tissue in the body yet it is the least understood by your doctor, therapist and trainer
  • the health and function of all joints & muscles are a direct result of the condition of your fascia
  • healthy circulation in your muscles, joints, arteries, veins, brain & spinal cord is largely dependent on optimal flexibility of your fascia
  • there is no medication that can improve your fascia
  • there is no supplement that can optimize your fascia
  • exercise alone does not optimally balance, align and improve your fascia

Effects of Untreated Fascia

  • decreased joint space can lead to degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis and more
  • increased muscle tone can lead to trigger points, strain, tendonitis, tears & more
  • increased nervous tissue tone can lead to headaches, trigger points, muscle tightness & more
  • increased scar tissue formation
  • decreased blood flow, decreased energy, increased fatigue & more

Features of Fascial Stretch Therapy

  • manipulates, lengthens, re-aligns and re-organizes your fascia (unlike massage therapy)
  • the therapy is pain-free (unlike deep-tissue work or rolfing)
  • increases joint space
  • eliminates trigger points
  • improves muscle activation & relaxation
  • improves flexibility on the first session & becomes cumulative with multiple sessions (unlike yoga and massage therapy)

Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy

  • improved posture & functional ability to do what you couldn’t do before
  • no pain allows you to finally enjoy a life quality
  • restoration of normal joint space is anti-aging at its best – youthful movement without pain!
  • will make all the difference in sports performance
  • reduces injuries so you can get on with your goals in fitness, recreation & sports
  • improves & increases options in sex when you have a flexible body

Session Rates

Each session is approximately 55 minutes in duration; however, 30 minute sessions are available if appropriate for the client.

    • $75 per 55 min session
    • $40 per 30 min session

Sessions are non-refundable but they ARE transferable to family and friends. Also, they may be used for personal training sessions. All sessions expire 90 days from purchase date.

  • contact Nichole
  • one-on-one fitness coaching
  • personal training

“SMR” redirects here. For other uses, see SMR (disambiguation).

self-myofascial release

Myofascial Release is a specialized massage technique in which the muscle tissue is stretched and manipulated to relieve tension in the fascia, the thin tissue covering the muscle fibers. It works by breaking up fascial adhesions and also by manipulating certain neuromuscular receptors to allow muscles to release any tightness.

Myofascial release can be self-administered, which is called self-myofascial release (SMR or SMFR), administered through the use of foam rollers. Myofascial release includes, but is not limited to, structural assessments and manual massage techniques which are designed for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, integument, muscles, and bones. Myofascial releast techniques are applied with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and balancing the body. SMR techniques should be administered pre-workout to improve mobility and muscle function, or post-workout to relieve muscular tension without damaging muscle tissue. It can also be done at any other time one feels the desire to.

Video Highlight

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How to Do SMR Techniques

foam rollers are commonly used for SMR

Another reason SMR is so effective is the relative simplicity of the techniques. Below are the steps on how to self-administer myofascial release.

  1. Position the appropriate muscle on the foam roller and find any tight and/or tender areas.
    1. Once found, hold the muscle on the roller until the tenderness is decreased by 75%.
  2. Continue on to another tender spot.
  3. Do 1 – 2 sets per muscle group; it should take about 30 – 60 seconds for each muscle.

Key points to remember:

  • Breathe deeply and slowly to help your body relax; rapid, shallow breathing will prevent your body from being able to release tension.
  • Roll & move slowly; do not roll quickly over a muscle, as this will have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Sometimes when you first begin SMR it may take a little longer for a muscle to release but keep at it and soon it shouldn’t take too long at all.

External Resources

  • Self Myofascial Release Exercises
  • Knee Knacker.com – a list of SMFR techniques
  • Foam Rollers – a diverse selection of foam rollers
  • Self-myofascial release resources – DVDs, books, etc.

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), also known as chronic myofascial pain (CMP), is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain caused by multiple trigger points and constrictions within fascia. Among the symptoms are referred pain, limited range of motion, and sleep disturbance.

Symptoms Edit

Myofascial pain can occur in distinct, isolated areas of the body, and because any muscle or fascia may be affected, this may cause a variety of localized symptoms. More generally speaking, the muscular pain is steady, aching, and deep. Depending on the case and location the intensity can range from mild discomfort to excruciating and “lightning-like”. Knots may be visible or felt beneath the skin. The pain does not resolve on its own, even after typical first-aid self-care such as ice, heat, and rest.

MPS and fibromyalgia Edit

MPS and fibromyalgia share some common symptoms, such as hyperirritability, but the two conditions are distinct. However, a patient may suffer from MPS and fibromyalgia at the same time. In fibromyalgia, chronic pain and hyperirritability are pervasive. By contrast, while MPS pain may affect many parts of the body, it is still limited to trigger points and hot spots of referred pain.

Causes Edit

The precise causes of MPS are not fully documented or understood. Some systemic diseases, such as connective tissue disease, can cause MPS. Poor posture and emotional disturbance might also instigate or contribute to MPS.

Treatment Edit

Massage therapy using trigger-point release techniques may be effective in short-term pain relief. Physical therapy involving gentle stretching and exercise is useful for recovering full range of motion and motor coordination. Once the trigger points are gone, muscle strengthening exercise can begin, supporting long-term health of the local muscle system.

Three different types of drugs are used to treat myofascial pain: anti-depressants (primarily SNRIs), calcium channel blockers such as pregabalin (Lyrica), and muscle relaxants such as Baclofen.Myofascial release, which involves gentle fascia manipulation and massage, may improve or remediate the condition.

A systematic review concluded that dry needling for the treatment of myofascial pain syndrome in the lower back appeared to be a useful adjunct to standard therapies, but that clear recommendations could not be made because the published studies were small and of low quality.

Posture evaluation and ergonomics may provide significant relief in the early stages of treatment. Movement therapies such as Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais Method may also be helpful.

See alsoEdit

  • Bruxism
  • Chronic pain
  • Somatoform disorders

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

  • Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP)

v·d·e Pain and nociception

Head and neck

Jaw and mouth (Odynophagia ) • Ear (otalgia, otitis media, otitis externa) • Eye (glaucoma) • Head (headache, migraine, tension headache, cluster headache, cerebral aneurysm, sinusitis, meningitis) • Neck (atypical myocardial infarction)

Thorax

(upper back, lower back, spinal disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, coccydynia) • Breast (perimenstrual, breast cancer) • Chest (myocardial infarction, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pancreatitis, hiatus hernia, aortic dissection, asymptomatic pulmonary embolism, Tietze’s syndrome) • Shoulder (right side – cholecystitis)

Abdominal

Left and right upper quadrant (peptic ulcer disease, gastroenteritis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, cholecystitis, atypical myocardial infarction, abdominal aortic aneurysm, asymptomatic gastric cancer) • Left and right lower quadrant (appendicitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, diverticulitis, urolithiasis, pyelonephritis, colorectal cancer)

Limbs

Arm (myocardial infarction, left arm) • Leg (deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery occlusive disease, claudication, spinal disc herniation, sciatica)

Joints (arthralgia)

Small joints (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosis, gout, pseudogout • Large joints (osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, hemarthrosis, osteonecrosis) • Back joints (ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease) • Other (psoriatic arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome)

Musculoskeletal

Delayed onset muscle soreness, myalgia, physical trauma

Other/unspecified

cold pressor test, congenital insensitivity to pain, dolorimeter, HSAN (Type I, II congenital sensory neuropathy, III familial dysautonomia, IV congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, V congenital insensitivity to pain with partial anhidrosis), neuralgia, pain asymbolia, pain disorder, paroxysmal extreme pain disorder • Allodynia, breakthrough pain, chronic pain, hyperalgesia, hypoalgesia, hyperpathia, phantom pain, referred pain

Related concepts

Anterolateral system, gate control theory of pain, pain management (anesthesia, cordotomy), pain scale, pain threshold, pain tolerance, posteromarginal nucleus, substance P, suffering, OPQRST

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

FST is a method of assisted stretching that focuses on manipulation of fascia and calming the nervous system to release tension in the body. Ashley Brodeur, MS, CFSS will be able to identify areas that are restricted and recommend stretches or exercises after the session to correct imbalances as necessary.

What to expect: You will lay on a therapy table (fully dressed in non-restrictive clothing and clean socks) and Ashley will assess and stretch as needed for improved movement and performance. The room is dimly lit and relaxing music played to encourage muscle relaxation. Not recommended immediately before exercise. Ok after exercise, but preferably not sweaty!

Cost: $70 for a 50 minute session (Card or Cash)

Availability: Please email [email protected] to book an appointment!

Your Practitioner: Ashley Brodeur, MC, CFSS holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from Springfield College, Reiki Master, and has completed 120 hours of training to earn a Level 3 Certification in Fascial Stretch Therapy from the Stretch to Win Institute.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is fascia?
Fascia is the connective tissue system of the body that penetrates through and wraps around muscles, nerves, organs, and just about everything else in your body.

Who benefits?
Any person cleared by their physician for stretching & active movement, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes of all levels.

What is different about FST?
FST is pain-free! It improves mobility of your nerves and flexibility of your muscles and fascia. Other methods focus on isolated muscle stretching which is often uncomfortable or even painful and results are only temporary.
Why stretch fascia vs muscle?
Fascia surrounds each muscle, connects them to each other and penetrates deep inside them. It also connects muscles to tendons, ligaments, and bone to form a body wide, smart functional network. Fascia connects to all of your organs and systems too.

What results can I expect?
Pain reduction
Stress reduction
Better sleep
Better posture
Improved mobility
More effective workouts

5 Reasons You Should Try Fascial Stretching

While I’m not an athlete, like many women who frequent tough workouts, I’m always sore somewhere. So, I headed to Stretch Colorado to talk to founder and CEO Amanda Sarbin, a certified stretch therapist, to try fascial stretching myself and to see if it was really worth the hype.

“It works by moving the joint along with the surrounding tissues to help the fascia and muscles relax at the same time,” says Sarbin, as she helps me lie on what looks like a standard massage table fitted with wide elastic bands. As she tucks one of my legs under the band and hoists the other over her shoulder, I realize this is definitely not going to be the type of massage you fall asleep during. (Pro tip: Because of all the moving, you’ll probably want to wear stretchy gym gear or athleisure, as I didn’t realize this and wore jeans. Oops!)

Working from my feet upwards, Sarbin pulls gently on each joint as I push back. This pull-push is a strange sensation and I almost feel like I’m getting longer. “This will definitely help your posture so you stand up straighter,” confirms Sarbin. The whole experience takes about 45 minutes, starting at my feet and ending at my head and neck. When I stand, I feel amazingly relaxed and almost like I’m floating. The tension is gone from my shoulders and I realize that I really am standing taller. One session is beneficial, but probably isn’t enough to reap all the benefits, says Sarbin. Get a closer look at what you could notice after a few sessions.

Image zoom

Zero pain: Massage and stretching therapies that focus on rehabbing an injury or breaking up scar tissue can be pretty painful, but fascial stretching is incredibly gentle. “You shouldn’t feel any pain at all, just mild pressure,” says Sarbin.

Fast recovery: In addition to reducing soreness, Sarbin says fascial stretching improves the blood flow to tired muscles, helping you to recover faster from tough training sessions with less soreness. Basketball legend Charles Barkley is a fan and even made a video about how fascial stretching helps him get back in action.

Improved performance: There’s a lot of science behind fascial stretching, including how it could help you run faster, lift heavier, boost endurance, improve coordination, and increase flexibility. But for me, the most convincing evidence was that even the Denver Broncos do fascial stretching, going as far as saying it helped them take home a Super Bowl trophy! (At home, try these 5 Stretches Everyone Should Do.)

Injury rehab: “Stretching the fascia breaks up scar tissue and increases the range of motion in injured areas,” says Sarbin, who says she became interested in the technique after using it to recover from foot surgery. “By the time I was done with the therapy, the foot that had been injured actually felt 100 percent better than the foot that was fine the whole time,” she says. “That’s what made me realize how powerful this can be.”

Weight loss: Weight loss isn’t the aim of fascial therapy, but Sarbin says she’s seen the piggyback effects happen for some clients. “When you feel better and move with less pain, you want to move more, and that exercise will help you lose weight.”

  • By Charlotte Hilton Andersen @CharlotteGFE

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When tomorrow’s Monday … but #JobLove

A post shared by Niki Bird Fitness (@itsnikibird) on Jun 3, 2018 at 12:22pm PDT

Lying on a massage bed in the Buglari Hotel’s Workshop Gymnasium (the oh-so chic anti-hotel gym, gym), personal trainer Niki Bird is manipulating my body. Not sports massage, nor a traditional assisted stretch session, she’s instead working to ‘unlock’ my fascia; cradling my limbs, rotating my joints, mobilising my muscles. As one of the few qualified practitioners in the UK, Bird is London’s go-to for Fascial Stretch Therapy, a novel approach to physical improvement.

What is fascia?

Yes, I’d heard of fascia, but until now dismissed it with a ‘not sure I need to know about that’. Silly me, given that it’s crucial to everyone’s bodily functions. As Bird explains, “fascia is the connective tissue that wraps around muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments”. The web-like layer of tissue is everywhere, we just can’t see it, or really feel it. Is this why the wellness world hasn’t been eager for us to work on it? She tells me that researchers have only recently begun to understand how much fascia affects our bodily functions, and in the States – where she studied and trained in the manual therapy method – it’s becoming big business.

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Productive day getting my inner geek on 🤓 @stretchtowininstitute #brainoverload

A post shared by Niki Bird Fitness (@itsnikibird) on Mar 19, 2017 at 1:52pm PDT

How can FST benefit me?

Given that it’s a stretch therapy, it enhances flexibility and mobilisation, but it can benefit all sorts of physical problems, from posture to pain.

It “increases blood flow around the body and can decompress joints, giving you new ranges of movement you did not even realise you were capable of,” Bird explains, hence the notion of ‘unlocking’ one’s fascia to free up more mobility.

While the practitioner mostly works with clients wanting a speedy recovery from gym sessions, and to generally move better, plus stand and sit taller, she also treats those suffering from chronic pain and stress (which in turn aids sleep).

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Stretch gains @theworkshopgymnasium _ 📷@matt__cunningham

A post shared by Niki Bird Fitness (@itsnikibird) on Nov 22, 2017 at 12:27pm PST

What does FST feel like?

Speaking of sleep, FST with Bird is actually really relaxing. While it sounds potentially the opposite, the treatment is totally pain-free, with only mild pressure applied to the body.

There’s no chance of you actually dozing off, though, as the process isn’t passive. There’s a certain amount of gentle ‘push-pull’ required, so you work with the guided stretching to resist pressure and aid the manipulation.

My main goal was for FST to improve my posture – give me a little reset post work-out and from having a toddler attached to my hip half the time – and I left Bird’s massage bed feeling longer and lighter. Floating away I had a new appreciation for my fascia, determined to maintain the feeling at home with a stretch sequence on YouTube that Bird does daily herself.

“It’s the best little piece of homework I can give my clients after coming in to see me, as it addresses a lot of the common ‘everyday’ imbalances people tend to develop, especially those at desk jobs,” she says of the three-minute sequence. “It’s easy to follow, effective and can really be done anywhere.” I now have no excuse.

Related Story

What is it and what are the benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy?!


Fascial Stretch Therapy (or FST), is a type of stretching that targets not only the muscles, but the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints. FST also targets the entire joint and joint capsule, using traction to remove restrictions from movement and to stimulate lubrication, by gently pulling and moving the arms, legs, spine, and neck in a smooth motion through varying planes of movement. The gentle movement is stimulating and relaxing at the same time.
The problem with many standard stretching programs is, well, they are standard. An athlete will finish her workout, run through her “usual” stretches, maybe paying extra attention to tight hips, sometimes pushing through some pain to get that final stretch. Sadly, this type of stretching is not effective and may even be causing more tightness and inflexibility. When you cause pain with stretching, your muscles respond to protect themselves, tightening up in a rebound type effect.
By contrast, as Fascial Stretch Therapist I will evaluate my client, looking for imbalances, as well as the source of those imbalances. Then using breath to help with movement, we will first warm up the joints and muscles with undulating stretching to maximize blood flow. Then using techniques of slow undulating movement, as well as traction (gently pulling to create space in the joint) and modified PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), synchronized with the breath, we will stretch the entire body, following a logical anatomical order, to lengthen muscle, increase range of motion, and improve flexibility.

10 Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy
Increase Range of Motion
Muscular Balance and Symmetry
Improved Performance
Reduced Pain
Reduced Risk of Injury
Improved Posture
Improved Muscle Function
Improved Circulation
Decrease Compression and Impingement in the Joints.
Improved Energy

The effects are cumulative. It took a while to develop the imbalances and stiffness in your body. It will take a while to reap the benefits of FST. But, that being said, you can feel immediate benefits, even after your first session. Contact us to schedule your appointment!

Rob Nayyar

Set it free with FST!

How to stretch fascia?

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