Most likely you have been told by your doctors and therapists that you have to stretch your child’s tight muscles daily to keep them in a functional range of motion. 15 years ago I would have advised the same*, but today I confidently say
“DON’T STRETCH YOUR CHILD’S TIGHT MUSCLES!"
Why so confidently? Because before knowing about fascia, I was also stretching tight muscles, and the battle was hard! That is the main reason why I switched to this fascia approach. It was frustrating to see the kids super tight after stopping or missing some stretching sessions. PLUS, I have witnessed long lasting results when we focus on fascia instead.
When we “stretch” your child’s muscles we might weaken your child’s fascial system. We know the muscles are embedded in the fascial system and the way they “connect” to the bone is through the continuity of the matrix of connective tissue but we also know that in spasticity, the mechanical properties of the connective tissue matrix are inferior. This means the fascia is weaker, as we discussed in our previous post, Fascia and your child with cerebral palsy. So when we passively “stretch” as we were taught to, like straighten the knee to stretch the hamstrings or flexing the feet to stretch the heel cord, the range we are getting is probably coming from elongating the tissues beyond their physiological range to the point where they lose their ability to return to the elastic property.
Listen to John Sharkey, one of the pioneers in biotensegrity explaining this concept and what happens when we stretch the living tissue beyond the physiological range.
*As a pediatric physical therapist I used to follow the classic biomechanical model, and I was very enthusiastic when combining my therapeutic skills with surgery and spasticity management like botulinum toxin, alcohol blockage and other resources doctors would offer.
WeFlow´s tip for you!
You can use a soft DIY fascia roller to work on your child’s fascia and keep the fluids moving. We have a free tutorial on how to build the roller, how to use it and where to help relax tight muscles. Access the free tutorial here