Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2019

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Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 67 STRETCHING FUNDAMENTALS Before we begin our exploration of neck stretching, let's examine the fundamental concept of stretching and the various types of stretching protocols we can add to our toolbox of treatment options. (Be sure to check your state regulations for any scope-of-practice issues related to stretching.) Armed with this knowledge, we can critically reason and creatively apply stretching techniques when working with our clients. What is stretching? Stretching is a simple mechanical concept of placing a force into the body that creates a line of tension—in other words, a line of pulling that places a lengthening force on the target tissue. Stretching is aimed at making myofascial soft tissue longer and/ or better able to lengthen when needed. And, when we consider musculature as part of this myofascial tissue, stretching inhibits baseline muscle tone, which is another way of saying it relaxes musculature. So, in addition to being a physical mechanical process, stretching can also work with the nervous system and, therefore, involves a neuromechanical concept. TYPES OF STRETCHING There are many types of stretching protocols. It should be noted that the following terms are not mutually exclusive, so a particular stretch protocol might be described by a number of the following terms. Static Versus Dynamic Stretching can be performed statically or dynamically. A static stretch is one in which the position of stretch is held statically for a prolonged period of time. Depending on the source, a static stretch can be held anywhere from about five seconds to as long as an hour. The underlying principle behind static stretching is a characteristic of soft tissue known as creep. Creep states that a soft tissue will deform when a sustained force is placed on it. The term deform literally means to change shape, so stretching involves deforming a shortened taut tissue into a longer, more flexible one. Static stretching is contrasted with dynamic stretching, in which the position of stretch is held for only a short period of time, perhaps one to five seconds, but the number of repetitions performed is greater. Dynamic stretching involves more movement, hence the name. Active Versus Passive Passive stretching occurs when the musculature of the client's joint being moved and stretched is relaxed and passive, allowing the stretch to occur. Passive stretching can be performed by a therapist with the client fully relaxed, or it can be performed by the client themselves when they use one part of their body to stretch another body part that is relaxed and passive. For example, if the client uses their left upper extremity to stretch their right upper extremity, because the musculature of the right S T R E T C H I N G T H E N E C K By Joseph E. Muscolino, DC A S I M P L E B U T I M P O R T A N T P R O C E S S

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