Too many people discount, or even outright ignore, this crucial aspect of physical fitness. Raw strength, speed, and stamina are all important, especially to athletes or weekend warriors, but everyone of any age or fitness level needs the ability to move their limbs and joints through their full range of motion as ordained by nature.
Most importantly, maintaining adequate joint mobility keeps our joints healthy. Just as our bones and our muscle fibers require physical stimuli, like load-bearing activities, to maintain strength, density, and to initiate positive structural changes/adaptations, our joints require regular movement and usage to maintain health and mobility. Think of your joints as hinges to a door; if the door is never opened, never used, and subjected to steady environmental or elemental decay without reprieve, that hinge isn’t going to work well. It’s going to rust, and it’ll creak and groan if you’re even able to get it moving. Same thing goes for the sedentary office worker, the bodybuilder who only focuses on pecs and biceps, and the daytime TV watcher. Their joints aren’t being used to their full potential (if at all, in some cases), and their mobility will suffer.
Mobility is related to changes in a person's body as they age as well. Loss in muscle strength and mass, less mobile and stiffer joints, as well as gait changes affect a person's balance and may significantly comprise their mobility. Mobility is crucial to the maintenance of independent living among Seniors. If a person's mobility is restricted, it may affect their activities of daily living.
Stretching is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into your daily workouts is a given but including it in your day routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.
The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is improving flexibility and range of motion. An effective flexibility training program can improve your physical performance and help reduce your risk of injury. By improving your range of motion, your body requires less energy to make the same movements and you also will have more flexible joints thus lessening the likelihood of injuries acquired during workouts or during daily activities.
Fascia Stretch Therapy or FST: Isa type of stretching that targets not only the muscles, but the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints. FST also targets the entire joint and joint capsule, using traction to remove restrictions from movement and to stimulate lubrication. A therapist will gently pull and move the arms, legs, spine, and neck in a smooth motion through varying planes of movement. There is no pain, not even discomfort. Instead, the gentle movement is stimulating and relaxing at the same time.
Then using breath to help with movement, the therapist will first warm up the joints and muscles with undulating stretching to maximize blood flow. Then using techniques of slow undulating movement, as well as traction (gently pulling to create space in the joint) and modified PNF ( proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), synchronized with the breath, the therapist will stretch the entire body, following a logical anatomical order, to lengthen muscle, increase range of motion, and improve flexibility.