Newsletter no. 5 – Monday 2 August, 2021

This is the web-based version of Stretch Therapy Newsletter no. 5

In today's newsletter, Olivia writes about her experience of incorporating lying relaxation into her daily life in the past two–three years. And, mentions two techniques in the ST system that have also helped her to become more relaxed, namely RollStretch (fascial softening), and long-held, (relatively) gentle stretching exercises that incorporate movements.


Relaxing is letting go

Olivia here. In April 2015, I started a thread on the ST Community Forums with this post:
Relaxation vs ROM

I've been thinking a lot in the past 12 months about muscle tension and flexibility, the idea that a person can be pretty flexible but at the same time very tense: good or bad or indifferent?

I've found that stretching has helped me get more flexible – even as an adult who now spends way too much time in front of a computer! – and of course there's the 'learning how to relax/release tension during the stretching' that is necessary to move deeper into a pose.

But, what about being less tense in daily life? I'm not sure there's been much carryover, however, the mobility work seems to be filling that gap in my body. Kit will possibly jump in and argue for lying relaxation as being what I need to do – I seem to recall him saying that once or twice over the years – but for whatever reason I don't do it/don't feel drawn to that practise, whereas I do mobility work many times during the day.

Last week, we sent you Kit's new article Why being able to relax is THE most important skill one can learn now. In this article, I'd like to share with you my experience of incorporating lying relaxation into my daily life in the past two–three years.

Read the full article.

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In the above article, I note that along with lying relaxation practice there are two other techniques that have helped me to become more relaxed. One is RollStretch, fascial softening techniques. The second is long-held, (relatively) gentle stretching exercises that incorporate movements, typically small ones: the long holds strongly effect fascia, and the movements enable infinite exploration of all fibres.

Here are two videos, RollStretch for soleus (calf muscle), and a long-held sequence for hip flexors/quads – these were two parts of my body that were extremely tense, but are no longer!

RollStretch techniques for soleus

In this video, Olivia shows you how to work soleus, the second important calf muscle, underlying gastrocnemius.

First, a stretch that can be done on the seat of any hard chair, and the second a RollStretch classic, requiring a piece of dowel (a broom handle can substitute).

You can really get into the fascia (which is the substance that gets torn when you "pull' a calf muscle), and the Achilles tendon. In this exercise, the RollStretch technique is being applied to tissues that are under stretch.

Long held hip flexor and quadriceps sequence

For this video, it might not look like a technique, but it is: stretches held for minutes at a time, at an intensity that allows normal breathing and complete relaxation of the body and the mind most strongly affects fascia. Accordingly, once new ROM has been achieved by Contract–Relax and pulsing, the end position is backed off slightly, and held in the most relaxed way possible for anywhere from one to ten minutes … or longer!

A note from a student

I own some of your video programmes and browse your forum regularly. I also have asked my wife for your book for Christmas. Myself and my wife do a relaxation script and deep diaphragmatic breathing every night before bed. The content you produce has changed my life for the better.  You have helped changed my thinking and body in ways I never thought possible. I am writing this email to express my thanks to you and all those who aided you in producing such content.

... This is another gratitude email. My wife is now pregnant. We have been doing the relaxation scripts for so long now.  She has your pregnancy book. She loves it. She remarked to me last night, "All the hypno-birthing prep stuff is Kit Laughlin scripts". Well not all of it but the relaxation scripts have helped her so much. Again thank you. Or as we say in Irish go raibh míle maith agaibh – go you and Olivia and the stretch therapy team.

A student in Ireland