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Improve Squat Patterning with Fascial Stretch Therapy - Part 1: The Hip


STW-FST (Stretch to Win - Fascial Stretch Therapy) offers the trainer a PNF-based system that can be used to remove the restrictions that are the barriers to good movement. The squat is used as an example in this article and we will focus on the hip, knee and ankle to complete a 3 article series.

Learning objectives:

The focus of all 3 articles in this series is to introduce you to how to use the Stretch to Win - Fascial Stretch Therapy® (STW-FST) flexibility system to correct faulty movement patterns in the squat. Then training can progress safely and not get interrupted or slowed down by pain, weakness or imbalances caused by movement restrictions. A consequence of this is better, faster, more complete results with greater confidence gained from both trainer and client.

What is STW-FST?

STW-FST is an advanced PNF-based, client assisted flexibility system. The trainer or coach uses hands-on, direct techniques on a table with stabilization straps to assess and remove restrictions to movement in joints, muscles and fascia (see Fig. 1). Results are quicker and more thorough than traditional, isolated stretching due to the following 10 Principles that make up the system.

Fig. 1: Stretch to Win - Fascial Stretch Therapy

STW Principles

First try this exercise called the “Frederick Finger of Fascia” (see Fig. 2-5):

Fig. 2: Start position Fig. 3: End position
Fig. 4: Start position Fig. 5: End position

The 10 Principles of the STW-FST System

The complete protocol that we perform to assess and correct imbalances always follows 10 Principles. They are grouped under what they focus on most – joint, muscle, and nervous system.

Joint (Principles 1-3)

Fig. 6. Single-plane stretch Fig. 7. Multi-plane FST

Muscle (Principles 4-7)

Nervous system(Principles 8-10)

These 3 Principles are grouped together as they greatly influence each other.

Trainers know how important coaching proper breathing technique is to the safety and success of their client. Since stretching has always been associated with pain in many clients, they tend to hold their breath during the stretch phase. Just getting them to exhale on the assisted stretch starts the process of changing muscle tone and tension through the nervous system:

Instead of ‘one-size-fits-all’ traditional, isolated stretching, coaching slower breathing with slow assisted stretches can stimulate the parasympathetic system for post training cool down and recovery. Muscle tension quickly releases with slow breathing-slow stretching for an excellent regeneration session starting right after training or during an off day.

Coaching quicker breathing, as you perform faster, flowing dynamic assisted stretches on your client for 5-10 minutes before training, can often work better than the client’s dynamic warm-up. Under your hands, you can immediately feel and correct restrictions and imbalances that would negatively impact the training session.

Breathing right, stretching right helps to properly stimulate the nervous system for better function and better results.

Summary of Principles

Movement patterns like the squat require full body assessments and strategies for optimal training and coaching. The 10 Principles of STW-FST constitutes an entire system that meets the need to quickly and thoroughly find solutions to problems with faulty movement patterns from mobility restrictions and flexibility imbalances.

3 Problems, 3 Solutions for Faulty Squat Patterns

Faulty squat patterns are often whole body issues. Therefore, the FST solution to many of these problems is to use a series of short or long connected myofascial lines to simultaneously correct them, often all at once.

Tips:

General contraindications related to performing FST technique:

The following will illustrate 3 problems you may witness while assessing a client's squat pattern, then explain a solution for correcting the problem using Fascial Stretch Therapy:

Problem #1: Feet turn out in a squat position

This problem is frequently blamed on the tight, short peroneals in the lower crossed syndrome or with just pronated feet. In our experience, most of the time this is not the issue (see Fig. 10).

Figure 10. Feet turned out

More commonly, this problem can be attributed to all or some of the following myofascial connections:

Figure 11 Figure 12
Figure 13

Problem #2: Excessive forward lean in a squat position

Figure 14. Excessive forward lean Figure 15. Deep front line (hip flexors) stretch

Problem #3: Asymmetrical weight shift (AWS) in a squat position

Figure 16. Asymmetrical Weight Shift Figure 17. Hip joint capsule stretch

Watch the Author's demonstration of how to perform traction to improve the squat using Fascial Stretch Therapy:

Summary

This article is the first of three in a series that teaches the trainer how to use Fascial Stretch Therapy within a training session to correct a client's poor movement patterns in the squat. The focus of this first article was on learning how to assess and remove restrictions in the joint and muscles around the back, pelvis and hip extending down the leg and up into the spine by way of myofascial lines. Re-testing the squat after each problem and solution example that was given will reveal the dominant problem causing faulty movement patterns, along with secondary ones.

This article demonstrated techniques that are different than traditional, isolated stretching. This was defined with the 10 Principles that address all systems of the body to make it a complete approach.

In article 2, we will focus on the knee and the myofascial lines connecting above and below that influence how the knee functions, tracks and contributes to faulty squat movement patterns.

References

  1. Frederick, A., & Frederick, C. (2006). Stretch to Win. USA: Human Kinetics.
  2. Alter, M.J. (2004). Science of Flexibility (3rd ed.). USA:  Human Kinetics.
  3. Schleip, R., Findley, T.W., Chaitow, L., & Huijing, P.A. (2012). Fascia – The tensional network of the human body. UK: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
  4. Myers, T.  (2008). Anatomy Trains. UK: Churchill Livingstone.