New ways to gain flexibility, improve performance, and protect against injuries. “Stretching has progressed to a more functional, dynamic method,” says physical therapist Chris Frederick, co-director of the Stretch to Win Institute in Tempe, Arizona.
Unlike stretching that attempts to isolate and stretch specific muscles, fascial stretch therapy (FST) targets fascia, the connective tissue found in, around, and between joints. To stretch the fascia, a certified FST therapist gently pulls then moves the legs, arms, spine, and neck in a smooth motion at various angles to remove pressure between joints, release joint-lubricating synovial fluid, and improve flexibility of muscles. “The function of muscles cannot be separated from the movement of fascia,” says Frederick, who has worked with Olympic gold-medal sprinter Sanya Richards. After an initial session with a therapist, runners can continue this stretch therapy on their own.