Stretching vs Release

Stretching! I'm sure all kinds of nasty images and painful, frustrating memories come up with the mere mention of the word. The truth is that, as it has been taught and practiced, stretching is painful, frustrating, and an unpleasant experience. As well as all of that, stretching as commonly practiced, is counterproductive to Flexibility.

Aggressive stretching is a tease, and actually a threat, to the tissue being addressed. It is painful and frustrating, with very little (if any) reward of change, and unlikely to be pursued with persistence.

Release is the vital concept and component capable of transforming your body, your relationship with your body, and your relationship with your movements and all of your activities. 

What then is this Release? To begin with it is tied inextricably with the Breath. It is through the mechanism of the Breath that Release is able to occur. 


As you stretch and come to the first level of resistance, pause; take a nice slow, deep Breath, bringing the Breath into the entire body with focus (and imagery), into the very tissue where the pain of restriction is being felt. Aware of the tension present in the whole body, begin your exhale, be it controlled or somewhat forcibly, as your whole body deflates like air escaping from a balloon and a softening occurs throughout. If your stretch was not too extreme and your Breathing appropriate, you will have successfully brought about a Release and sunk or dropped into a deeper, more profound stretch. Without forcing, without struggling and straining, but simply by letting go-- by relaxing. 

This Release will be felt as a wave of letting go spreading through the myofascial fabric of your entire body and evidenced by a deepening of the stretch, allowing a change in the articulation of the bones of your skeleton.

Remember, holding tension in any part of your body while trying to stretch and Release another part of your body is counterproductive and will waste your time and cause you needless stress. This includes holding tension in your shoulders, your ribcage, your head and neck, your feet or even something as subtle as tension in your face as you grimace. If you are forced to be grimacing or are tensing up other parts of your body as you stretch, you are in too extreme of a stretch; BACK OFF! 

Release will occur far easier and more quickly if you go slowly, taking your time proceeding through the layers of tension one at a time. Keep in mind: the slower you go, the faster you will reach your goal. 

Understanding and practicing the concept of Release you gain the power to change your body on the cellular (Fascial Web) level as well as the skeletal level. Comprehending and practicing properly the concept of Release you give yourself the abilities of the best massage therapist, or the most skilled chiropractor, to address and reorganize your musculature and your skeleton. As you become adept, this practice will have positive repercussions throughout your life, affecting your emotional self as well as your physical body. 

There is pain in your body. The stiffness and inflexibility you experience in your body are merely symptoms of the reservoir of pain in your tissues. Facing and owning the fear and pain is necessary for Change to occur, and Change is the key to Progress. The trick is to learning how to address it and dissolve it without causing more trauma, adding insult to injury.

Learning to differentiate between inflicting pain and uncovering pain as you work on your flexibility is crucial. This is also true for any modality of bodywork you may participate in. It does you no good to hurt yourself or to have someone else hurt you in the name of healing. Judge only by Results.

Your goal is not to stretch your muscles in order to have long muscles. Your goal is nothing less than changing the quality of your tissue and the dynamics and mechanics of your skeleton. It is possible, in fact probable, to stretch your muscles or get wonderful bodywork (be it massage or chiropractic) without changing the ways in which you use your skeleton to move through your life. For the desired result it's imperative that your habitual movement patterns are addressed and altered.

The concept of Release, as described above and if properly put into practice and coupled with the movements of a systematic, comprehensive skeletal range of motion flexibility routine, not only assures a change in the myofascial tissue and the skeletal system but also a change in the chronic and habitual disorganized movement patterns which are responsible for the pains and injuries which send us limping, hobbling, or crawling to our healers of choice.

Read my article about solutions for hip pain and low back pain.

Stretching and releasing the muscles around your hip and back and other parts of your body are important in addressing pain in those areas.
You will learn about the proper tools and exercises to address hip pain, back pain, knee pain, and any other body pain you are experiencing.