Massage Therapy vs Assisted Stretching: Which is More Effective?

Strong muscles are crucial for good health and superior performance. With regular muscle treatment, you can increase blood flow, relax joints and tendons, and improve circulation.

Massage therapy and assisted stretching are two of the best ways to provide muscle relief. In order to respond better to your body’s needs and wants, it will help to understand the methods and benefits surrounding each treatment.

How Massage Therapy Works

Massage is an umbrella term for pressing, rubbing, and manipulating muscles and ligaments to promote relaxation and recovery. It is a popular form of passive stretching wherein an individual stays put while a therapist applies external pressure on the part of the body that is being stretched. While a general massage therapy will involve work on the entire body, sessions can be customized to focus on specific or problematic areas only.

Massage may range from gentle stroking to deep pressure techniques. It’s best performed immediately after an intense workout or strenuous activity as it can help relieve pulls or strains, and leave a calming effect on the body. Massage can also provide much needed relaxation in the midst of a busy work week.

That being said, too much massage therapy can lead to injuries and overstretching. Wrong strokes, excessive pressure application, and skin abrasions due to friction may put the body at greater risk. Injuries stemming from massage techniques require immediate, and often expensive, medical treatment. In addition, a massage may leave you feeling drowsy and fatigued after due to the intense muscle manipulation that took place.

The Benefits of Assisted Stretching

Like massage, assisted stretching makes use of an external force to soothe tightness and keep muscles engaged. Assisted stretching may share several similarities with massage, but its main purpose is to enhance mobility.

During a typical session, a therapist will move and stretch out your body until muscles are elongated and the fascia is stretched out. Doing so will help remedy any distortions and reduce painful movement.

Muscle coordination and flexibility can become imbalanced as you age. You will also notice that your range of motion or your ability to move joints comfortably reduces as time goes by. All these issues may lead to mobility limitation and structural instability in the long run. With regular assisted stretching, you can boost flexibility and put less stress on your muscles, resulting to better performance and comfort.

The Secret to Pain-Free Mobility

While there’s no second guessing the healing potential of massage, assisted stretching optimizes recovery in ways massage therapy cannot.

Most individuals rely on massage for instant recovery. Assisted stretch takes it one step further by offering long-term solutions to rehabilitation. The goal of assisted stretch is to help people move freely to the best of their ability and live a pain-free life without undergoing surgery. As mentioned earlier, too much recovery can trigger injuries and soreness.  With assisted stretching, you can look forward to lower stress levels and greater strength and endurance.

At StretchSPOT, our professional therapists combine elements of Active Isolated Stretching, myofascial release and PNF techniques to help each client reach their health and fitness goals. Book an appointment today and experience the vast benefits of assisted stretching.

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stretch therapy

How Can Stretch Therapy Help Me?

  1. Reduce Muscular Pain: Tight muscles can lead to pain and discomfort, for example, pressure is placed on the lower back when the pelvis is pulled down by tight hamstrings. Stretching these tight muscles frequently alleviates this pain.
  2. Increase Flexibility: At StretchSPOT our technique involves trigger point release during the stretch which separates the muscle and helps to improve flexibility and increase range of motion.
  3. Help Avoid and Recover from Injury: Lack of stretching causes the tendons around muscles to stiffen creating tightness and limited range of motion in everyday activities. Over time you become slower and prone to injury, muscle strains and other soft tissue damage. Stretching out the muscles relieves this tension and tightness and protects against future injury.
  4. Enhance Athletic Performance: Regular stretching increases blood flow and relieves muscle fatigue by loosening muscles and tendons. This helps achieve greater physical endurance during sports and workouts because oxygen flows readily through the blood, delaying muscle fatigue. Stretching helps to reduce post workout soreness.
  5. Improve Posture: Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders helps hold the spine in alignment which improves posture, can reduce pain and discomfort, and prevent injury.
  6. Increase Circulation: Stretching increases nutrients and blood flow to the muscles, promoting vigorous healthy cell growth and improved organ functioning. Well-functioning circulation keeps the heart rate lower and helps protect against high blood pressure and heart disease.
close up of fascia

What is Fascia and Why is it so Important?

Have you ever had myofascial release? Lots of people have had it done, but what exactly is ‘fascia’? Why do I need it ‘released’? And why is it so important to keep healthy?

 Your body, as a unit, is supported and protected by fascia as well as your muscles and organs. It plays an important supportive role to the musculoskeletal system as it provides a strong protective sheath around our entire body. Think of fascia like an orange, yes the fruit. Your skin would be like the rind of the orange and if you peeled back that rind you’d see a thick, white, fibrous layer. That thick white part of the orange encompasses the fruit and binds the rind to the center and this is exactly what the fascia does. So next time you peel an orange think of your fascia!

Our body is protected from head to toe with this fascia system that serves as a protective, bonding barrier to our deep soft tissue. Fascia can also be visualized as similar in appearance to a spider’s web. Not only is fascia covering our body right underneath our skin but it is densely woven and penetrating every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel and even the organs like our heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. The stickiness and fine strong fibers of a spider’s web is similar to your fascia. So why is fascia so important then? It is important because it enables you to perform everyday activities as basic as sitting and standing. Do you need to keep it healthy? Without a doubt. What if the fascia gets damaged? Well fascia, in its normal state is relaxed and able to stretch and move without restriction, but when you experience physical injury the fascia loses flexibility and becomes tight, restricted, and tense. This is that pain you feel before your therapist talks about releasing the tension. Myofascial release is working on fascia linked to and within the muscle which becomes distorted and can pull, twist, and compress the body into misalignment.

Hopefully you can see how important fascia is and the most interesting part is there is still so much scientists are learning about it. Keeping this very important system healthy is vital for your overall health and wellness. Hydration is a big factor. Drink lots of water as it helps fascia deliver nutrients and remove waste and toxins from cells. Regular exercise obviously helps blood flow and muscle movement, but teamed up with a solid stretching routine can help decrease tension buildup in the muscles and fascia. Your body is amazing and your fascia system has a lot to do with that, so be kind to it and stretch, walk and hydrate to a healthier you.