Tegan Haining, celebrity personal trainer and author of the 7-Day Quickie, shares her top tips for fascial stretching and why it should be an essential part of your fitness routine.
When one part of the body moves, the body as a whole responds. The connective tissue or fascia is what keeps the balance in our bodies, it’s what binds everything together, our muscles, bones, veins, ligaments, skin and cells would all be hovering in space if it weren’t for fascia.
But how do we look after this essential part of our anatomy the way we do everything else?
We won’t hesitate to work our muscles to burn fat but what about the soft tissue that prevents injury, manages blood flow, improves functional movement patterns and can actually help keep us looking younger? At the end of the day if you get injured and can’t train at all wouldn’t you wish you could go back in time and dedicate at least one hour a week to a proper stretching program?
Many of my clients come to me with injuries sustained from training or simply even just moving for years with some kind of poor form. If our soft connective tissue is tight our skeletons are gradually pulled into a new position resulting in this poor form and injuries such as pulled psoas, lower back pain from disc herniations or rotator cuff tears.
With the wave of high-intensity group fitness classes sweeping the nation, injuries will only become more commonplace unless proper ‘maintenance’ becomes the norm.
Fascial stretching is one way to try to prevent these types of injuries.
Fascial stretch therapy or FST is a unique method of assisted stretching performed on a table with the use of straps to aid in relaxation of the tissue. Through the use of traction, tissue which is ‘stuck’ or glued deep inside the joint capsule, can be released over time, helping to correct postural issues. A one-hour stretch therapy session will work the four different fascial lines of tissue which run from the base of the feet all the way up to the skull. Pain can often be referred from a different area in the body, FST aims to find the line of tissue which is causing the pain and stretch it out!
But stretching out the soft tissue doesn’t only help with our functional movement patterns. It also helps to improve blood flow with fewer restrictions on our veins, helping oxygen to travel more freely through our bodies giving us more energy and aiding in speedier muscle recovery. As our blood also removes toxins from our body, allowing the fascial net to be released can also mean faster removal of toxins in our body through our liver and other organs.
Fascial stretching simply gives our bodies the ability to adapt to change both inside and out. It is beneficial for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Everybody needs to stretch! Yin yoga and some Pilates techniques can stretch the fascia, but there is nothing quite like lying down and having somebody else to do all the work for you.
Anyone who wants to be able to stay fit for the long term, should be considering how balanced their fitness program is. If they are only lifting, training in groups or even just doing high intensity yoga, they should be considering the long-term effects on their body and consider stretching their fascia to maintain the longevity of their fitness.
Tegan Haining is the creator and author of the 7- Day Quickie. She is also the former Personal trainer to David Beckham (when she lived in the UK) and is Fascia/Stretching Expert (who you may remember from Australian Survivor.) Tegan has been a trainer for 8 years working with Bodyism in the UK. She has also trained the likes of Jess Gomes, Natalie Imbruglia, British model Jena Goldsack and Lara Stone.