By Kylie Blanchard
“Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST™) is a unique approach to assisted table stretching that is performed by a certified stretch therapist. We use different techniques to lengthen out the joints to allow for a more in depth stretch,” says Kat Haux, certified FST therapist. “We really open up the range of motion to the joint with this pain free therapy.”
The Stretch to Win – Fascial Stretch Therapy® method was developed by Ann and Chris Frederick, a husband and wife team of physical therapists that lead the Stretch To Win Institute in Tempe, AZ. The Institute focuses on training and certifying individuals in FST in both the United States and Canada.
FST focuses on the fluid stretching of the fascia, the specialized connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones and joints and provides support and protection and structure to the body, rather than the isolated stretching of individual muscles.
“We always do a full body stretch because everything is connected in one way or another,” says Haux. “We move in a logical order stretching from the foot up. There will never be anyone without a tight point in their body.”
Haux is currently North Dakota’s only certified FST therapist. She was drawn to the therapy because of the personal benefits she has experienced through stretching. “Because I have fibromyalgia, I’ve always been big on stretching,” she says. “I was researching stretching on the internet for a personal training client and came across Fascial Stretch Therapy.”
Haux completed a five-day Level 1 training program at the Stretch To Win Institute, which covered 35 hours of primarily hands-on training. In December, she will complete her Level 2 certification, which further focuses on stretching the shoulder and hip joints.
FST offers many benefits for individuals including increased flexibility, improved posture, and reduced muscular soreness and tension. “We lose 10 percent of our range of motion for every 10 years we age,” says Haux. “Real gains in flexibility occur when you actually train for flexibility on a regular basis.”
“Stretching also increases symmetry and balance in the body,” she continues. “A lot of people have one leg shorter than the other and stretching can help to even that out.”
Jody Elkin began FST sessions with Haux in May, prior to running a half-marathon. “I started stretch therapy mainly for injury prevention,” she notes. “I’ve always had problems with flexibility and felt this would be a nice adjunct to my strength training program in the off-season.”
Elkin says she has noticed improvements in her flexibility and believes this will continue with additional stretch therapy sessions. “I’m hoping the long-term benefits of incorporating a flexibility program into my routine will allow me to stay injury free.”
She says FST has helped keep her motivated to continue her stretching routine. “Stretching has never been my favorite thing to do, but I understand as I age, if I don’t address both strength and flexibility issues, eventually my body will break down.”
“I would recommend this to anyone who is looking at injury prevention,” Elkin continues. “As a physical therapist, I’ve been trained in a number of techniques to improve flexibility. The difference, in my opinion, is Kat is dealing with a healthy population, trying to improve performance and prevent injury.”
FST can also aid athletes in improving performance as well as injury prevention and recovery, notes Haux.
Kelly Hanlon, who competes in a variety of running and biking races, has been seeing Haux for stretch therapy for the past eight months. “I participate in a lot of races throughout the year and often my recovery time slows me down,” she says. “I started going to Kat after races so my recovery time was shortened.”
Hanlon notes if she was able to see Haux for a stretch session within 24 to 48 hours of a race, it would benefit her continuous training and competition. “It helped me to maintain the competitive streak I was on without one race negatively impacting the others,” she says, adding she was able to compete in a total of 17 races from May through October.
During the racing season, Hanlon saw Haux an average of three times a month. “I would sometimes see her before and after a big race and she would also give me stretches to do at home,” she notes. “I was injury free all season.”
Haux says stretching can benefit an athlete both before and after an event. “If athletes are stretched out before their event they will perform better,” she notes, adding stretching also helps reduce the chances of strains and sprains. “After an event, stretching can help reduce muscle soreness.”
Hanlon says individuals don’t have to be athletes to experience the benefits of FST.
“I think we all assume we know what we are doing when we are stretching. But until you get a good stretch, you see there is room for improvement,” she says. “This doesn’t involve any intrusive methods. You are just stretching, which your body needs anyways.”
Haux says the main misconception about FST is that the treatment process will be painful. “This is a pain-free process. When we stretch on our own, we tend to go for a big stretch and stretch the muscle too far, which can produce a rebound effect and the muscle just tightens back to where it was. Through stretch therapy, we can get a lot of angles and stretches people can’t get to themselves,” she notes. “The best stretching you can get is when someone else is doing it for you.”
Haux sees stretch therapy clients at her current location in the Athena Square (Spa D’Athena) building, 1500 Interchange Avenue, as well as through home visits. She is also a certified personal trainer and provides both individual and group training sessions.
For more information on Fascial Stretch Therapy or to book an appointment, contact Haux at 701-471-3906 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information on the Stretch to Win® Institute is also available at www.stretchtowin.com.