flexible, pain-free life.
Some people would say flexibility is the key to a happy life. Most people want their work schedules, routines, and even their relationships to be somewhat flexible. But how often do they think about their literal flexibility?
It’s well known that staying flexible gives people better mobility and posture. Flexibility protects individuals from injury, releases tightness, reduces inflammation, and improves the ability to relax. The best way to stay flexible is simply to stretch. It sounds easy, but when it comes right down to it, stretching probably falls to the bottom of the list most days. Even after exercising, a moment or two for a downward dog pose or a quick shoulder stretch is pushed aside in favor of a hot shower.
It could be that what more people need is to hop on to one of the latest fitness trends that’s sweeping the nation — assisted stretching. Jennifer Schnieders, owner of Outbound Physical Therapy & Rehab in Jefferson City, says assisted stretching takes traditional solo stretching up a notch.
“Assisted stretching allows an individual to receive help from a trained, licensed professional, allowing for a deeper, more effective stretch tailored especially for the client,” she explains. “It can really make a huge improvement for so many people.”
To get started, a professional evaluates how well a patient’s body is moving and then helps the client activate their body’s natural reflexes as they relax. This kind of stretching allows a professional to provide controlled resistance to help people achieve a deeper stretch, resulting in a bigger range of motion in problem areas.
“Think of it more like a one-on-one training session. They can tailor a stretching plan to an individual’s needs and help them complete it safely.”Jennifer Schnieders
In most cases, people begin to experience chronic pain and loss of flexibility as the result of inactivity, injury, and the natural aging process. In these cases, people can experience difficulty with static stretches, such as bringing their knees to their chest or extending one leg straight into the air while lying on their backs. With assisted stretching, professionals can ensure proper form, like keeping knees straight, and that clients are receiving enough resistance in order to improve flexibility. Like training for cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, training the body through stretching is key to achieving better mobility. At Outbound Physical Therapy & Rehab, Jennifer offers assisted stretching sessions as part of her Reflex Stretch Studio.
“Assisted stretching is nothing new to physical therapy and is often a part of therapy to help patients get their mobility back,” Jennifer says. “But, the idea of offering sessions (singles and packages of multiples) specifically for stretching is something new.”
Each session can be 25 or 50 minutes long, as the stretching routines are personally attuned to each client. Following the treatments, many clients experience improvement in their blood circulation and muscle activation while feeling stronger and participating in more physical activities with little to no pain. Assisted stretching is also known to do wonders for improving posture and eliminating tech neck, a condition common in those who work at computers for long periods of time.
Jennifer has seen amazing results from clients who come from all walks of life, like a young athlete who had completed physical therapy after an injury but still wasn’t back to feeling 100%.
“He wasn’t where he wanted to be, but assisted stretching got him back to his full range of motion because we were able to focus our efforts on that extremity,” Jennifer says.
The most common complaint that Jennifer gets from clients is one that many people have probably all dealt with at one point — lower back pain. There can be many causes of lower back pain; so while certain stretches, such as the hamstring stretch, the pelvic tilt, and the pigeon pose, can be performed at home, they can sometimes make the condition worse because people are having to strain muscles in order to get into position. With assisted stretching, specialists are able to perform stretches such as knee rotations, forward folds, and spinal twists while clients are completely relaxed, taking the pressure off the clients’ muscles and preventing any strain or injury. At the Reflex Stretch Studio, physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are trained to know how to avoid injuries, make modifications for past injuries and limitations, and make accommodations for special circumstances.
“Think of it more like a one-on-one training session,” Jennifer says. “They can tailor a stretching plan to an individual’s needs and help them complete it safely.”
With all things considered, whether it’s an athlete looking to improve performance or someone with an aching back, assisted stretching is guaranteed to provide consistent and safe results. Don’t postpone working out those kinks; start enjoying life with more mobility.