How does Stretch Therapy compare with Yoga, Pilates, etc.?
Stretch Therapy is different to these, yet consistent with them. Stretch Therapy is based on detailed knowledge of anatomy and physiology. It uses some of the major Yoga poses, and adds effective techniques from dance and gymnastics, from traditional Japanese exercise forms (Jikyo Jutsu and Makko Hoo), and has designed many new techniques and positions.
Does Stretch Therapy improve on yoga?
The goal of Yoga is enlightenment, and traditional Yoga encompasses the asanas (or poses) as well as meditation, cleansing and breathing techniques, to name a few. In comparison, Stretch Therapy’s goals are more modest: to increase Range of Movement where desirable, to free the body from pain, and to optimise its functions. Stretch Therapy is an excellent preparation for Yoga.
Yoga lacks specific neck muscle stretches (particularly levator scapulae and the scalene group) so we designed a number of new exercises. Other differences include ‘Partner-Based’ poses and exercises, where a partner’s strength, weight or support makes the ‘contract’ part easier to perform, or the final stretch position easier to hold so the ‘stretchee’ (the person being stretched) can get the full benefit of the vital relaxing and breathing aspects more easily.
Another difference is that we sometimes target specific muscles for particular reasons (piriformis in relation to sciatica, and the scalenes for some arm and hand problems). Go to the Forums to found out how and why people are using this system, either on its own, or in conjuntion with one of the older schools of body work.
How often should I stretch?
Contrary to the common claim that stretching every day is needed to become flexible, we tested beginner students in four frequency groups (from every day to once per week) and found that those stretching every third day and once per week consistently made faster progress up to the intermediate level.
In the modern world where most people experience their lives as “time poor”, doing less can be more. And once you become flexible, activities that were ‘stretching’ are now just your normal movement patterns, so you can ‘stretch’ whenever you like.
Why not stretch more often?
According to the students “you can’t stretch a sore muscle easily at all,” and this is the key to understanding what was going on. Selye (author of The Stress of Life) provides an understanding of why one needs to rest between serious stretching sessions and between weight-training sessions and hard aerobic workouts. Put simply, an activity is only a trigger for various adaptive responses – the recovery and adaptations happen while you rest. If you are working hard, in a relationship, and are busy, doing less speeds adaptation.
Am I too old to stretch?
In theory no; in practice, it depends on your health, any treatments you are receiving, any injuries or existing pain. We strongly suggest that you discuss stretching with your health care professional before you start a program, either on your own or with a Stretch Therapy professional. In our experience from children to 80 year olds, proper stretching results in increased flexibility and strength, leading to improved mobility and lower risk of injury, and a significant increase in the simple pleasure of being in your own body.
Can I stretch while I’m pregnant?
Absolutely. One of our teachers, Jennifer Cristaudo, stretched throughout both of her pregnancies and attests to the benefits. In fact, she allowed us to record her program during the second pregnancy, in the book Stretching & Pregnancy.
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