Stretching exercises can be an important component of treatment during massage therapy. Licensed Massage Therapist Diana Thompson provided a great review of stretching exercises in Massage and Bodywork Magazine. She described the difference of effects between static and dynamic stretching with implications for massage therapists. Diana summarized the stretching research presented by Dr. David Behm when they both attended the 2010 Thera-Band Research Advisory Committee meeting. During that meeting, the research group was introduced to the new Thera-Band Stretch Strap which facilitates a number of stretching techniques.
Most of the controversy behind stretching is based on a misunderstanding of the literature. Different types of stretching (static, dynamic, contract-relax) produce different effects based on the activity performed and population tested. For example, static stretching immediately before a jumping event will decrease jump performance, whereas static stretching may increase flexibility in an older adult performing activities of daily living. It’s important not to make your clinical judgments about interventions based on media reports of research. A recent article in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports provides an excellent review of the literature on stretching. Practical summaries of the literature, as Diana provided, can be a less time-consuming method of interpreting the literature to improve clinical decision-making skills.
REFERENCE: Thompson D. The Stretching Debate. Massage and Bodywork. Nov/Dec. 2010. pp. 116-121.