Principles* of Stretch Therapy
The key principle of ST is that the body‒mind complex is more than the sum of its parts (so wholistic, or systems theoretical perspectives are favoured over mechanistic, or reductive ones ‒ unless there is a reason to favour the latter over the former!**).
A second principle is that living organisms tend to a dynamic homeostasis, and that the homeostasis exhibited at any time is the result of choices made earlier in its development. A developmental trajectory may be inferred. A corollary of this principle is that choices constrain future options.
A third principle is that the form and function of the human body is a map of all the forces that have acted on that body in previous times, and that these are constrained by one’s genetic inheritance (‘genetics’ for short). This principle is consistent with ancient oriental perspectives that tell us that we have a certain quantum of energy that can be nurtured or squandered by lifestyle choices.
The fourth principle is that any living organism continues to adapt until it stops functioning altogether; the speed and degree of adaptation depend on one’s available adaptive energy; adaptive energy is dependent on one’s fatigue state (from rested to exhausted) and one’s nutritional status (from all necessary nutrients present to one or more being depleted) and all constrained by genetics (I will never be 6′ tall or have brown eyes, for example, but I might change my state and function radically within those constraints). Stress, used in its engineering sense, is applied to the body to gently change its developmental trajectory. Stress that is applied to the body unconsciously tends to change it in ways we don’t like!
Realising that revision is inevitable is the fifth principle. The further requirement is the integration into the larger perspective of any new information revealed by this activity is required. The goal of ST is grace and ease, and no principle is held to be immune from revision (including this one)!
* I am indebted to Dr Jeffrey Maitland for making this distinction clearer—principles are assumptions about how things work; and, as assumptions, may be tested.
** For example, if the muscle called piriformis is possibly indicated in one’s sciatica, then a specific (hence reductive) piriformis stretch might shed further light, diagnostically; similarly, working on the scalenes if one suspects Thoracic Outlet Compression Syndrome, or TOCS (sometimes TOS).
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