10 Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy

Stretching has become a much debated topic in recent times. For years it was touted as the key to restoring flexibility, improving athletic performance, and reducing injuries. Then stretching, particularly passive stretching, fell out of popularity in favor of more dynamic moves that were designed to prepare the body for sport. Passive stretching is reserved for after the workout, and even then its value is controversial.

FST 2

What is Fascial Stretch Therapy?

Enter Fascial Stretch Therapy (or FST), a 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.

The problem with many standard stretching programs is, well, they are standard. An athlete will finish her workout, run through her “usual” stretches, maybe paying extra attention to tight hips, sometimes pushing through some pain to get that final stretch. Sadly, this type of stretching is not effective and may even be causing more tightness and inflexibility. When you cause pain with stretching, your muscles respond to protect themselves, tightening up in a rebound type effect.

By contrast, a Fascial Stretch Therapist will evaluate their client, looking for imbalances, as well as the source of those imbalances. 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.

10 Benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy

  1. Increase Range of Motion
  2. Muscular Balance and Symmetry
  3. Improved Performance
  4. Reduced Pain
  5. Reduced Risk of Injury
  6. Improved Posture
  7. Improved Muscle Function
  8. Improved Circulation
  9. Decrease Compression and Impingement in the Joints.
  10. Improved Energy

The effects are cumulative. It took a while to develop the imbalances and stiffness in your body. It will take a while to reap the benefits of FST. But, that being said, you can feel immediate benefits, even after your first session.

Remember, I am not (yet) a certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. I will be studying and preparing for the class that I’m taking in August. My information comes from my experience as a client, as well as from the Stretch to Win website, and the book, Stretch to Win, which is written by Ann Frederick and Christopher Frederick, the developers of Fascial Stretch Therapy.

The above, by the way, is an affiliate link. I will make a few cents if you purchase that book through Amazon. Other than that I have received no compensation for this post. I have experienced FST first hand and I’m a believer in the benefits.

Linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

  
Have you heard of fascial stretch therapy? Have I piqued your interest? You can find a list of certified FST therapists on the website.

It’s All About the Bass: The Workout

It’s Fitness Friday and I’m excited to bring you a fun and challenging workout for your butt rear aspect. Actually, it will strengthen your entire lower body, improve your balance, and protect you against injury.

It’s All About the Bass: The Workout

The only equipment you need are dumbbells or kettlebells, and a stability ball, plus a slider disk or paper plate. Be sure to use a weight that challenges you and use good form for each exercise (they are explained below). Warm up for about 10 minutes before you begin.

All About the Bass

Squat: Holding two dumbbells at your side, begin by standing with your feet about hip width apart. Sit back, bending at the knees and hips, keeping your back neutral, your knees aligned and your chest up. Pause then return to your starting position.

Combo: Rear Lunge/One Leg Deadlift/Rear Leg Lift: Start by standing straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Shift your weight to your left leg then step back into a rear lunge, lowering until your back knee almost touches the ground, and your front knee is bent to about a 90 degree angle. Straighten up, then start to bend forward at the hip, keeping your right leg straight and your spine neutral. Extend your left leg behind you with the knee straight. It should stay in alignment with your body throughout the movement. Lower until you’re about parallel with the ground (see the photo below). Slowly return to your starting position, then keeping your right leg behind you and your spine neutral, squeeze your glutes and lift your leg behind you. Lower your leg. That is one repetition. Complete the reps with the right leg, then do the other side.

One Leg Deadlift

Wide Leg Squats: Stand with your legs wide apart and your toes pointed slightly out. Holding one dumbbell or a kettlebell in both hands, squat down, making sure that you keep your knees tracking over your toes and your spine neutral. Pause then return to your starting position.

Lateral Slide Lunges: Stand with your legs together and your right foot on a slider disk or paper plate (you can even use a towel). With your weight on your left leg, start to bend your knee and sit back while sliding the right leg to the right, keeping the knee straight. Press your right foot into the plate to contract your adductors and slide your foot back to your starting position. Complete the reps with the right leg, then do the other side.

Combo: Hip Lift/Ball Roll/Squeeze: Lie on your back with your feet on a stability ball. Lift your hips, then roll the ball in, keeping your hips elevated. Squeeze your glutes 5 times, then roll the ball out and lower your hips. That is one repetition.

There you go. Enjoy!

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

No treble here!

Do you have a favorite butt lower body exercise?

Meet My Blogfest Buddies!

blogFestBody

Blogfest is fast approaching and I’m getting really excited. Because I’m returning for a second year, I was asked to be a Blogfest Buddy! I would be matched up with a first-timer and I would help show her the ropes, so to speak. Now I am doubly excited because I have two Blogfest Buddies!

Introducing My Blogfest Buddies!

Jen from Pretty Little Grub

Jen lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is a Registered Dietician and a Makeup Artist. I think that is such an interesting combination of careers and I can’t wait to actually meet Jen and find out how it came about (and get some makeup tips!). She blogs about all of her interests, nutrition, fitness, running, and beauty. She loves to travel too, so she writes about that as well.

JenJen is a pretty new blogger so she’s coming to Blogfest to make more blogging friends and form real connections. She loves how the blogging community is so open and how everyone helps each other. She also wants to learn more about the business side of blogging, and to develop more succinct blogging goals.

Jen is passionate about health and fitness (she’s going to love all the workouts that are offered at Blogfest and IDEA World!). She recently ran her first marathon! One thing that Jen and I have in common is that we both tend to be a little introverted, so we express ourselves through our writing.

Sessions that I’d recommend for Jen are Legal Advice for Bloggers, with Elizabeth Blaine and SEO Tips and Tricks with Sara Downey Robinson. And I know she’s going to love roaming the IDEA World Expo, trying new classes, meeting the vendors, and generally soaking in the fitness experience.

Michelle from Michelle Denise

My second buddy, Michelle, lives in Beaverton, Oregon, where she is a single mom to both a 20 year old and a six year old! She’s a director at Yahoo, which sounds like a pretty cool job. She previously lost 150 pounds, gained some back, and is now blogging about her challenges, her love of running, and finding her way back again.

MichelleMichelle is really excited about coming to Blogfest and meeting some of the people that she reads every day. She can’t wait to bond with them, share with them, and learn from them.

Michelle loves to run and recently completed her ninth half marathon, the Avengers, at Disney.

Sessions that I’d recommend for Michelle: Busting the Top 5 Nutrition Myths with Melissa Burton (one of my Ragnar teammates!) and the Future of Blogging with Jessica Matthews. And I’ll bet she’ll love the Fitness Icon workout–HighX with Gabrielle Reece.

I have to say that I am excited that both of my Blogfest Buddies are runners. I hope we’ll get a chance to take a run together. Or two.

I’m looking forward to all of the sessions I mentioned above plus How to Create a Career out of your Blog with three of my favorite bloggers, Katy Widrick, Laura Peifer, and Katy McFarland.  And I can’t wait for Mind Blowing Blog Tips with Jenn Hellickson and Jamie King (another Ragnar teammate!). Plus so much more! Great workouts, amazing speakers, and informative sessions that will really help you build your blog and your social media.

Blogfest Register 2015 new

I have a special code that will save you $100 on your registration! Just click here to sign up and use the code BLOG100 at checkout. There are a limited amount of openings, so don’t delay.

So, have you signed up yet? What blogger would you like to meet?

Fit Friday: TRX Circuit Workout

It’s TGIFF! Thank Goodness it’s Fit Friday!

Here’s a fun TRX circuit workout to try! The exercises are beginner to intermediate level, but it is still very challenging. Here is a great resource for instructions for most of the exercises.

TRX WorkoutWarm up for about 10 minutes before starting the workout. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, then move on quickly to the next one in the round. For exercises like lunges, do 45 seconds on each side. When you’ve finished all the exercises in a round, repeat them before moving on to the next round (if you are time challenged once through each round will still be a great workout!). Take a minute break between rounds.

Be sure to use good form for each exercise and keep your core engaged throughout. And remember, I’m a personal trainer, but I’m not your personal trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

TRX workouts are great for all levels. They provide a challenging and functional workout, are portable so you can do your workout almost anywhere, and basically make every exercise a core exercise. It is also fun and adds great variety to your regular workout.

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3Have you done a TRX workout? What did you think?

Fit Friday: Amazing Arms and Shoulders

If you are time challenged like I am, you appreciate a workout that does it all. Because I spend a lot of my available training time running, I need a workout that can work my total body in a functional way, challenge my core, balance the strength in my legs without overdoing it, and, as the title suggests, create amazing arms and shoulders.

Fit Friday

I created this workout because I feel that sometimes when I’m doing total body workouts on a regular basis, I don’t have the time to give my arms and shoulders the special focus they need to have the definition that I like. In this workout, you will not only complete two exercises each for biceps, triceps, and shoulders, you will also do some compound functional exercises that will work your entire upper body. Throw in two types of squats, some balance, and you’ve got a workout that has it all.

Ball-Workout

Total Body Circuit Workout with Special Focus on Amazing Arms and Shoulders

For each arm exercise, choose a weight that challenges you while allowing you to complete all repetitions with good form.

Push Ups with Feet on the Stability Ball: Assume start position by placing stability ball under the front of legs. Note: the lower the position of the ball on your legs, the more challenging the exercise. With arms slightly wider than shoulder width, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Press up, straightening elbows, to your starting position.

Bicep Curls, Seated on Stability Ball: Sit on the ball, with special attention to your posture. Sit tall, pulling your shoulder blades together, holding the dumbbells in each hand, with your palms facing in. As you do your curl, gradually rotate your wrists so that your palm faces your shoulder at the top of the movement. Return to your starting position without moving your upper arms or swinging the weights.

Lying Triceps Extension, Bridge Position on the Ball: Roll down on the ball until your head rests level. Lift your hips so that you are in a bridge position. Contract your glutes and your abdominals throughout the set. Hold dumbbells above your head, palms facing in, arms straight. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows, lowering the weights behind your head. Return to the starting position.

Squat with Lateral Shoulder Raise: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend your knees into a squat, keeping your abdominals contracted, your spine neutral and your chest up. As you rise, lift your arms to shoulder height, keeping your elbows straight but not locked. Return your arms to your sides as you lower into your next squat.

Crunch on Stability Ball: Sit on the ball then roll down so that the ball supports the small of our back. If you choose, you may use a medicine ball for a resistance, or use your hands to lightly support your head and neck. Contract your abdominals as you exhale lifting your shoulders several inches above the ball. Return to the starting position. Note: You will get a better workout if you stop slightly short of a “resting” position between each repetition. This will keep the tension on the abdominal muscles and make the exercise more challenging.

Bent Over Row, Standing on the Right Leg: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, shift your right into your right leg. The knee is bent slightly as you bend over at the hips, letting your left leg extend behind to counterbalance. Keep your spine neutral. Bend your elbows to lift the weights, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly straighten your elbows. Try to maintain the balance for the set. You may keep the back foot on the ground for better balance. Note: It helps if you find a focal point and keep your head still while completing this exercise.

Reverse Fly, Standing on the Left Leg: Start as above, on the left leg. This time you will keep your elbows straight but not locked as you lift the weights to shoulder height. Slowly bring them back down for each repetition.

Triceps Pushups: At a wall, hold the stability ball with your hands and arms close together. Your elbows are straight, and your arms are parallel to the ground. Walk your feet back slightly so. The farther back your feet the more challenging the exercise. Keeping your spine neutral, bend your elbows, keeping them close together as you do so. Allow your heels to come naturally off the floor as you lower your body. Straighten your elbows to the starting position.

Wide Leg Squat with Bicep Curls: Stand with legs wider that shoulder width, toes pointing out slightly, holding a dumbbell in each hand, at your side, palm up. As you bend your knees into a squat, bend your elbows into a bicep curl. Straight your knees and elbows back to your starting position.

Twisting Crunch on Ball: Perform the crunch as above, this time alternating twisting from side to side as you lift your shoulders. The medicine ball is optional.

You can perform this workout two or three days a week, or throw it in once a week or so for some variety to your total body workouts. If you have any questions about the exercises, please ask in the comments. I hope you enjoy it!

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

How do you fit strength training into your busy schedule?

Fit Friday: For the Core

I’m excited to bring back one of my favorite series, Fit Friday. Recently I have felt that I’ve moved away from fitness posts by focusing more on running. I want to get back to my roots though, so, while there still may be a running workout on Fridays from time to time, you will generally find some type of strength workout. I introduce you to Fit Friday #1: For the Core.

Fit Friday

Here’s a quick core workout that will get your weekend started right.

For the Core

With all core exercises it is important that you focus on tightening and bracing your abdominal muscles for the most effective workout. Pull up your belly, brace like you’re preparing to be punched, and make sure you continue to breathe. There, now you’re ready.

Note: While the instructions say to perform each exercise for one minute, you should only do it as long as you can keep good form. So, if that is only 30 seconds at first or even less, that’s great. Work at it, get stronger, and before you know it you’ll be sailing along for a minute.

1. Plank with Alternating Knee to Elbow: Start in a high plank position, making sure that your shoulders are directly over your wrists and that your spine and hips are aligned. Inhale, then exhale as you bring your left knee to touch your left elbow. Hold for 2 seconds. Return to starting position then repeat with the right knee. Continue alternating knees for one minute. Modification: Put your knees down in your plank position.

Plank Altnernating Knee

2. One Leg Deadlift: Stand with your weight on your right leg. Start to bend forward at the hip, keeping your right leg straight and your spine neutral. Extend your left leg behind you with the knee straight. It should stay in alignment with your body throughout the movement. Lower until you’re about parallel with the ground. Slowly return to your starting position. Do all the repetitions on your right leg for a minute, then repeat on the left side. To increase the challenge: Hold a kettlebell in one or both hands.

One Leg Deadlift

3. Side Plank with Hip Dip: Assume a forearm side plank position. Make sure that your shoulder is above your elbow, your hips and legs are stacked. Hold the opposite arm in the air. Without losing form, lower hip to the mat. Return to your starting position. Repeat for one minute, then switch sides. Modification: Keep lower leg on the floor.

Side Plank

4. Supine Toe Taps: Lie on your back with your legs in a tabletop position (hips and knees bent at 90 degrees). Tilt your pelvis slightly and push your back into the mat. Slowly lower one leg and tap the toe on the mat. Return to starting position then lower the other leg. Alternate legs for one minute, keeping your back pressed down for the whole set.

Supine Toe Taps

5. Bicycles: The old fashioned bicycle crunch is still a great exercise if it’s done correctly. Lie on your back with your hands lightly supporting your head. Bring your right knee to your left elbow, then your left knee to your right elbow. Take it slow and don’t pull your head to reach higher.

Bicycles

6. Russian Twist: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Keep your back straight and lean back slightly until you feel your abs engage. Hold your hand out in front of you. Twist to the right and touch your hands to the ground (if you can without rounding your back. If not, just go as far as you can). Then twist to the left. Alternate for one minute. To Advance: Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands as your perform the exercise.

Russian Twist

7. Sliding Pike: This exercise should be done on a wooden or laminate floor (see below for variations). Start in a high plank position with your feet on a blanket or large towel. Using your abdominal muscles, draw your legs in, keeping your knees and spine straight as you move into a “Pike” position (inverted V). Return to your starting position. Repeat for one minute. Modification: Allow your knees to bend as you draw your legs in. Variation: This exercise can be done with your feet on a stability ball or sliders.

Sliding Plank

8. Leg Lowers: Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air. As you engage your abdominal muscles, press your back into the mat. Lower your legs only as far as you can without losing form or lifting your back. This is important. Hold for two seconds then return to the starting position. Repeat for one minute. Modification: Keep your knees slightly bent and use a smaller range of motion when you lower your legs. Don’t do this exercise if it causes back discomfort or pain.

Leg Lowers

This workout should take about 10 minutes. You can complete one set or, if you have more time, repeat the workout for a killer core workout. Enjoy.

I’m linking up with Jill for Fitness Friday!

FitnessFridayRev3

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

What is your favorite core exercise?