Q: I have a back/knee/neck/etc pain/injury. Is ST suitable for me?
A: You have come to the right place!
Founder Kit Laughlin developed ST from his research and personal experience with many methods as he sought to cure his severe back pain.
Kit is now recognised as a leading expert in treating back and neck pain through exercises alone (ie without medications or invasive surgical procedures) and ST has helped thousands of people around the world for over 30 years.
You are advised to start with private lessons before joining our group classes.
Q: Can I stretch while I’m pregnant?
A: Absolutely! Wai Kuan practised yoga all the way to the 9th month of her pregnancy. And she delivered her baby naturally, without any medical assistance – that’s another story!
ST founder Kit Laughlin explains the many benefits of stretching while pregnant in his book Stretching and Pregnancy.
The 4 major elements of ST, namely stretch, strength, relaxation and re-patterning are excellent preparation for motherhood.
Q: What is the difference between ST and yoga and Pilates?
A: To answer this properly, first of all, what do you mean by yoga?
Yoga is a Hindu philosophical tradition. However, today, most mainstream yoga schools teach a modern form of Hatha yoga, that is yoga as a form of exercise. Even in the modern forms of yoga, the teaching approaches vary greatly: for instance Asthanga Yoga has little resemblance to Laughter Yoga and neither are similar to Aerial Yoga.
Pilates today has also evolved into different teaching interpretations, most broadly Pilates Mat and Pilates Reformer.
Stretch Therapy is not Yoga or Pilates but it is consistent with the yoga/Pilates schools that emphasise anatomy, physiology and awareness. We do use some of the poses and techniques from yoga, dance, gymnastics and traditional Japanese exercise forms Jikyo Jutsu and Makko Hoo in addition to our own unique techniques and positions.
For example, yoga lacks neck muscle stretches (particularly levator scapulae and the scalene group) so we designed a number of new exercises. Other differences include ‘Partner-Based’ exercises, where a partner’s strength, weight or support makes the ‘contract’ part easier to perform, or the final stretch position easier to hold so the ‘stretcher’ (the person doing the stretching) can get the full benefit of the vital relaxing and breathing aspects more easily.
Another difference is that we sometimes target specific muscles for particular reasons, for example, piriformis in relation to sciatica, and the scalenes for some arm and hand problems.
Stretch Therapy techniques can effectively help you improve your Yoga practice, or any athletic performance. Our students include yoga and pilates teachers as well as marathon runners, and avid tennis players and golfers.
Q: I have done Yoga/Pilates etc, can I skip the Starters’ Course and enroll in the SSM class?
We do not usually accept students straight into the SSM classes. There are certain key concepts unique to Stretch Therapy which new students have to absorb.
If you have prior experience in yoga/Pilates/bodyworks and are comfortable with the basic forms of the Stretch Therapy exercises, the teacher will provide variations. You will still get a very good stretch and workout. The teachers themselves have backgrounds in yoga and Pilates before choosing to focus on Stretch Therapy.
If attending the Starters’ Course is not practical for any reason, you can arrange private sessions or attend our 6-hour Essentials Workshop.
Q: How about other stretching techniques like AIS, chiropractic, manual therapy and physiotherapy?
A: These systems generally employ a certain degree of therapist or machine-assisted stretches.
In ST, you do the exercises yourself. The teacher guides. This is the key for your condition to improve: Your mind needs to connect with your body and be aware of the movement. This does not happen when someone else is manipulating/treating you. We do not use any machines, only simple props like chairs, bolsters and blocks.
Q: I am undergoing chiropractic/physiotherapy/etc treatment. Can I join ST now?
A: If your treatment includes stretching/strengthening exercises, it is best for you to complete the course that you have signed up for before joining ST.
If the treatment is general massage or dry needling, you should be able to start ST right away. However, do consult your therapist before you do.
Q: Am I too old to stretch?*
A: In theory, age is no barrier. In practice, it depends on your health, any treatments you are receiving, injuries and/or existing pains. Do discuss stretching with your health care professional before you start a program, either on your own or with a Stretch Therapy Teacher. In our experience with all ages from children to 80 year olds, proper stretching results in increased flexibility and strength, leading to improved mobility and lower risk of injury, and a significant increase in quality of life.
(*extracted and edited from stretchtherapy.net)
Q: Am I too stiff to stretch?
A: If you are stiff, there are a lot of tensions that you have held in your body for a long, long time. The way out is stretching and some other relaxation techniques like mindfulness/awareness training or meditation.
Some people conjure up an image of a ballerina in a side split when it comes to stretching and conclude that stretching is not for them.Everyone has differences in their range of movement. All our exercises start with the basic form. They can be scaled up or down to suit people with different ranges. If you are stiff, we won’t start with a full side split, for sure!
Q: Will stretching make my muscles weak? I am very stiff but I don’t want to weaken my muscles.
A: ST actually strengthens your muscles throughout the full range of motion. Bear in mind that to stretch a muscle, another muscle has to contract (work!).
ST will reduce unnecessary tensions in your stiff joints. This reduces the risk of injuries and enables you to move more smoothly and to go about your everyday life with greater ease and for longer in life.
As the ST exercises are scalable, they are also very effective for those who wish to go beyond everyday activities and achieve sporting/extraordinary goals.
Q: How is Stretch Taiji different from normal taiji?
A: It is no different, in terms of moves. Our tradition is Wu-style (吳家) taiji and the moves we teach are as our masters taught us. However, in our teaching experience, all modern city dwellers today have some issues with posture and flexibility which preclude us from executing taiji moves properly. Accordingly, our Stretch Taiji classes include Stretch Therapy™ exercises to help our students more quickly develop awareness, suppleness and strength. Also, we teach in modular format, rather than the full 108 Steps.
Q: I have bad knees. Can I do taiji?
A: Chi-Chang himself used to suffer from back and knee pains, but not anymore thanks to Stretch Therapy.
If your knees are bad, we suggest you start with private lessons first.
Q: Why don’t you teach the full 108-steps of your taiji form?
A: Most city dwellers today cannot commit the intensity and length of time necessary to properly learn such a long Form. Also, the full 108-step Wu-style Form takes a fair amount of space (about 14×8 = 112 sq ft) and time (about 25-40 minutes) to practice.
Our philosophy is that it is far more beneficial for taiji students to understand a short Form comprising a few moves which they can continue to practice, and practice frequently and well, instead of ‘knowing’ a long Form, but performing it with little awareness.
That is why we developed our modular format. This modular format is normal elsewhere in the martial arts world. In karate and taekwondo for example, there are many kata and hyung. Students start with simple forms and progress to more complicated moves and sequences.
We will teach the Wu-style 108-steps to interested students who already have a firm grasp of the basics and who can commit the time (we estimate 40 weeks)
Q: Can I have a trial class?
A: No, we do not offer trial classes. Stretch Therapy has been proving effective across thousands of people around the world for over 30 years.
To experience improvement, students must commit to a course of classes to understand and practice the basic foundations. ST is an exercise-based method. Exercise must be done regularly to be effective.
There is a wealth of information on the method on-line, at our website and Facebook and also at founder Kit Laughlin’s site www.stretchtherapy.net. In addition, there are Google, Facebook & TripAdvisor reviews on our Malaysian centre.
We look forward to seeing you when you are ready!
Q: Can I observe a class before I decide to enrol?
A: We do not allow observers as their presence may distract the class. To see what happens in a class, check out our extensive Google, Facebook and Instagram photo galleries. You do not need a Google, FB or Instagram account to view them.