Stretching techniques along with somatic mobilization and movement can be highly effective in releasing muscular tension, stress and pain that may be a result of cellular memory. Subtle techniques can be just as effective as large obvious stretches like Muscle Energy Techniques (MET). The key is having awareness. This is one reason MET works well.
MET is a form of soft tissue treatment that invites the client to actively use their muscles. MET also involves joint mobilization that requires a combination of isometric and isotonic contractions to improve musculoskeletal function and reduce pain. Practicing MET in a treatment session requires communication between therapist and client. While gentle, the client must still participate in the stretch.
Communicating with your therapist during the session is not only required during MET but also throughout your whole treatment. If you are uncomfortable, I invite you to have awareness for that and communicate with your therapist. It is important particularly for some more passive techniques. It is easy to ‘check out’ in a session that you do not have to actively participate. And while there is some benefits for just letting go without conscious thought, the results will happen quicker with your participation. With static stretching you can see how remaining present can effect a release.
Static stretching has proven to increase range of motion and can enhance athletic performance (for those amongst us). The therapist holds the position of a limb or body part in a particular to stretch the muscle. Static stretching is an effective stretch. But it can also be detrimental to muscles if not performed with mindfulness. It is important the client and therapist listen to the muscles being stretched and not over stretch them. Not only could this cause physical damage but can impact on the emotional or trauma release the treatment may be trying to illicit.
Somatic movement is another effective method of healing where mindful awareness enhances your treatment. It can be done with or without a therapist. It may involve stretches. Somatic movement is conscious mobilization of the body that focus on the internal world, within the muscles and joints and even deep within the energy body.
Mindful yoga is my first thought when I think of somatic movement. Dance is another. As a mind-body therapist I love using somatic movement in my treatment sessions. Somatic Movement, MET, mobilization and stretching all bring awareness to sensation of the body. In that awareness, active release of trauma and stress, physical and emotional may be released. The key though is maintaining the awareness for what arises.
Breathing is imperative to maintain that sense of presences. It is natural to hold your breath in anticipation when you feel you are in a place of great discomfort. Yet breathing can be a blessing to facilitate a release with ease or at the very least give you something to focus on. Particularly if thoughts are painful (emotionally or physically). Focusing on each inhalation and exhalation can enhance the outcome of your treatment.
Next time you want to check out of your treatment because it got uncomfortable - take a breath, remain present and communicate with your therapist.