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How to Use Active Stretching for Myofascial Release
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What is the meaning of myofascial release?
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How to Use Active Stretching for Myofascial Release
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Hi, I'm author, speaker and trainer JJ Flizanes of JJFlizanes.com. I'm here to speak to you today on behalf of About.com about using active stretching for myofascial release.

Meaning of Myofascial Release and Active Stretching

So first of all, what is myofascial release? It's basically muscle tension – releasing muscle tension through stretching. But we're going to use active stretching.

So what's the difference between active stretching and what else there is? Well, there's passive stretching. Active stretching is when you're actually using your muscles to elongate the opposite side of the joint. So for instance, if I want to stretch my bicep, I am going to contract my tricep. Using active stretching actually increases your active range of motion and is also an exercise. So you get multiple benefits from active stretching.

Stretching the Back

The first active stretch I'm going to show you is going to be for the lower back and the middle and upper back. A lot of people complain about having lower back tension. So again, the lower back gets contracted when you're in spinal extension, so whether you're sitting or standing, you have a slight curvature of your lower back.

Your muscles of your lower back stay contracted all day long. So in order to actively stretch them, we want to cause spinal flexion. The muscles in charge of spinal flexion are your abs. So really, any core exercise or ab exercise will help to stretch the lower back.

Cat Stretch for Myofascial Release

We're going to start with the cat stretch. You're going to start on all fours, hands underneath your shoulders, and knees underneath your hips. And then you're going to think about contracting your abs into a crunch, and pull your rib cage and your pelvis as close together as you can. This contraction of your abs will allow your lower back muscles to release.

Bridge Stretch for Myofascial Release

The next active stretch I'm going to show you is to stretch out your quadriceps. Many times people who run or do any kind of biking or walking or hiking can get very tight in the quadriceps area and they want to know how to best stretch that. So in order to actively stretch your quads, you want to actively contract your hamstrings. And that's going to be in the form of the bridge. You want to start lying on your back with your knees bent, your feet on the floor, and your feet hip width apart. You're going to concentrate on contracting your hamstrings as tightly as possible and your glutes so that your quadriceps are stretching.

So any time you feel like there's a muscle group that is tight and tense and you want to stretch it, figure out what the opposite muscle group does and contract it. Thanks for watching and for more information, please visit us online at About.com.
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