In ST, physical exercise and mental awareness are entwined. To develop deep core strength and flexibility, neural re-patterning needs to occur. We need to become aware of our own body movement patterns and unnecessary tensions, so that we can re-learn how to move efficiently and in a relaxed way.
Our minds tend to resist change. ST remakes what the brain unconsciously believes the whole system can do by using the bones, fascia, muscles, and nerves of the body. “Stretching” does not change muscles at the cellular level: it changes the system’s perspective of itself.
The result is improved flexibility achieved by remapping (or stimulating) the somatosensory cortex’s map.
Under the guidance of our certified ST instructors, your brains and senses are directly involved in your stretching experience. This allows you to repeat the extended range of movement. With practice, this improved range will become the new ‘normal’ for you and is incorporated into your daily activities.
All this sounds very philosophical. But like all practical exercises, ST has to be experienced to be appreciated. It is just like how one cannot fully reap or understand the benefits of swimming or cycling just by reading, listening or looking at it. You have to get in the pool or on the bike yourself!
What happens in a class
Regular walk-in group classes will generally cover whole body work with an added theme, such as Spinal Work, Shoulders, Calf and Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Back Bends, or a combination of these. Our classes are kept small (12 pax or below) so that we can pay enough attention to all students.
Our students have said our classes are like “Physiotherapy in a fun way” or “This is like a Thai massage”. Read more about their experience with Stretch Therapy.
Techniques include manipulating the three fundamental neural reflexes of the body. Most of our best stretching exercises use all three:
- Reciprocal Inhibition reflex
This is the key to efficient strengthening of the body, particularly when you want to establish a new motor pattern. Once you know how to use it, this stretching technique allows for ‘free’ flexibility.
- Post-contraction Inhibition reflex
Once in a position where the stretching sensation is being experienced, an isometric contraction is done for a period, which increases the stretch sensation. This is stopped, and a full breath taken. The re-stretch is performed during the breath-out. The result is increased flexibility.
- Apprehension reflex
This refers to the anticipation of discomfort when going deeper into any stretch or beyond the range of ordinary movement. People in pain experience this more acutely. Apprehension is the major limiter of returning to any former range of movement. Becoming aware of and over-riding this natural self-protection mechanism will change your experience of working with your body forever.
Other techniques are pulsing, long-held gentle positions, long-lever, supported and unsupported, micro-movements, directed breathing and controlled cramping.
There is no formula for ST, only an approach. Overall, the holistic approach is preferred over mechanistic, or reductive ones.
For instance, for knee problems, we do not just focus on the knee. We also work on the foot, ankle, calf, hamstring and hip. However, if the piriformis muscle is indicated in one’s sciatica, then a specific (hence reductive) piriformis stretch might shed further light, diagnostically. Similarly, we would work on the scalenes if we suspect Thoracic Outlet Compression Syndrome (TOCS or TOS).
Everyone’s experience is different. Our method begins with, and stays with each individual.