resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
November, 2009, Vol. 9, Issue 11
An Alternative Approach to Stretching
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Clinicians, athletes and rehabilitation specialists advocate stretching as a means for injury prevention and treatment. The primary purpose of any stretching technique is to enhance pliability and flexibility in the soft tissues. It is also routinely incorporated with massage in the treatment of pain and injury conditions. There are many different stretching techniques, which all fall into one of three primary categories: static, ballistic or active-assisted stretching.
Static stretching is the most common. In static stretching, you bring the target muscle into a lengthened position and hold it there until you have achieved the desired stretch. The ideal length of time to hold a static stretch is debated in the literature and the results appear inconclusive. Somewhere around 15 to 20 seconds is a common time frame that achieves good clinical results.
Ballistic stretching is used most commonly in the athletic environment. During a ballistic stretch, you bob or bounce into a stretch to encourage tissue elongation in the muscle. Ballistic stretching works by using the momentum of the moving limb to extend past the initial limitation of range of motion. Many people oppose the use of ballistic stretching because the rapid elongation of muscle tissue in the bouncing motion can activate the stretch reflex, which would be counterproductive to stretching.
In active-assisted stretching, the client actively engages a specific muscle contraction prior to, or during, the stretching procedure. There is a variety of active-assisted techniques and they go by different names such as PNF, muscle-energy technique, active isolated stretching or facilitated stretching. There are slight variations in each of these methods, but they are all based on the neurological principles of post-isometric relaxation (PIR) and reciprocal inhibition. Experiments that compare active-assisted methods with static or ballistic stretching show the greatest range of motion gains with active-assisted methods.
Immediately following an isometric contraction, there is an increased degree of relaxation in that same muscle. This immediate reduction in neurological activity is called the post-isometric relaxation (PIR). The methods of active-assisted stretching use the window of reduced neurological activity during the PIR to engage a stretch of the target muscle after it has isometrically contracted. Stretching during the PIR is more effective than stretching without the prior isometric contraction.
The other neurological principle that is of important in active-assisted stretching methods is reciprocal inhibition. When an agonist (target) muscle contracts, there is a neurological inhibition of its antagonist (opposite) muscle. The reduction in neurological activity in the antagonist muscle is called reciprocal inhibition. Because reciprocal inhibition decreases neurological activity in muscles opposite the ones being contracted, it is helpful to use during stretching procedures. Stretching of the target muscle is enhanced when its opposite muscle is contracted at the same time (Fig. 1).
The various techniques of active-assisted stretching advocate different lengths of time to hold the isometric contraction prior to stretch. Initial research has indicated that a relatively short period of nonmaximal isometric contraction (about 3 seconds) seems most effective for holding the contraction prior to stretch.1 These methods also vary in the length of time that the stretch is held. A study investigating active-assisted stretching compared stretch duration times of 3 seconds and 30 seconds and found no significant difference in the outcomes between the two time periods.2 More research is needed to determine the ideal stretching method(s). It may turn out that the optimum stretching method depends on the situation in which it is being used.
Effective Stretching Procedures
Each of the stretching procedures mentioned above must take into account the biomechanical and neurological properties of the myofascial unit. Therefore, all stretching procedures engage two primary components: the physical stretch of muscle and connective tissue (mechanical effects) as well as the reduction in neurological resistance to stretch (neuromuscular effects).
Fascia is interwoven throughout muscles in an extensive network. It has viscous properties that respond better to slow, sustained tensile loads and resist rapid elongation.3 The process of connective tissue gradually lengthening when a sustained stretch is applied to it is called creep. The extensive fascial network running through all muscles suggests greater benefit for longer-duration stretching methods to take advantage of connective-tissue creep.
The neurological resistance to stretch is primarily governed by a specialized proprioceptor called the muscle spindle. It is responsive to both the rate of muscle stretching and the amount of stretch in the tissue. If the muscle is stretched too fast or too far, the muscle spindle sends signals to the central nervous system and an immediate muscle contraction is engaged to prevent overstretching. This immediate muscle contraction is called the myotatic (or stretch) reflex. Stretching procedures attempt to minimize any recruitment of the stretch reflex.
An Alternative Method
Manual-therapy practitioners have been excited by recent research studies enhancing our understanding of the physiological properties of fascia. We have recently learned that fascia contains contractile cells and is capable of releasing its contraction and further elongating when a prolonged tensile load is applied to it.4 Armed with this new understanding, we can use the physiological properties of fascia to enhance stretching procedures. Combining active-assisted stretching methods with fascial-elongation methods would address both the neuromuscular and connective-tissue components of the stretching process.
Consider hamstring stretching as an example of how this works. Engage the hamstrings in a short 3-second nonmaximal contraction. Release the contraction and bring the hamstrings into a stretched position (Fig. 2). Have the individual attempt to further stretch the hamstrings by attempting to flex the hip as far as possible (as they did in Fig. 1). This movement engages the reciprocal inhibition process and encourages further lengthening. While this position is held, apply a myofascial-stretch technique (with the hand or back side of the fist) to the hamstrings and hold it for about 30 to 60 seconds. Holding the myofascial stretch encourages relaxation of the fascial contractile cells and enhances connective tissue creep.
Both the neuromuscular and connective-tissue components of the stretch are emphasized by combining these myofascial and active-assisted stretching techniques. I have found this stretching method helpful with a number of chronically tight muscles. In the future, it will be valuable to perform comparative studies with this and other stretching techniques to find out which ones are most effective under various clinical circumstances.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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