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New treatment helping Fredericton

Fascial stretch therapy may not be new, but it is fairly new to the Fredericton area.

Ryan Wilkie is hoping more Fredericton residents, especially athletes, begin to take advantage of the massage-like treatment he offers at Precision Pilates. On his website, Wilkie describes fascial stretch therapy as “a complete, full-body approach using innovative techniques of assisted stretching protocols to improve strength, coordination, balance, agility, mobility and of course flexibility. It is a non-aggressive, pain-free method of treatment similar to massage.”

The treatment is primarily used on hips and shoulders. It not only helps heal past injuries but also helps reduce the risk of future injury.

“If you’re more flexible, then you’re going to be able to take [more] impact on different things,” explained Wilkie. “The way that I think about it is like the emergency brake being on in a car just a little bit. This therapy, it kind of releases that tension so the athlete is going to be able to move so much more fluidly. That’s going to help, depending on the sport, in different areas.”

There are different forms of treatment with a full session taking roughly an hour. Wilkie said that 10 sessions would likely get an effective result but, like massage, returning regularly would be beneficial. There is also a very quick, two-minute version that can be performed on athletes just before an event.

The therapy first gained popularity in 1996 when its creator, Ann Frederick, began using it with the USA men’s Olympic wrestling team. She and her husband, Chris, founded the Stretch To Win Institute in 1999 where fascial stretch therapy has gained popularity ever since, even being used by football players Donavan McNabb and Randy Moss.

“It definitely can be geared more towards athletes but it can be used for a wide variety of things,” said Wilkie, who has performed the therapy on clients ranging from wrestlers to nurses.

“The muscles right around the joint capsule itself, they can get really tight. It’s a spot where, say, massage therapists can’t actually get their hands in there,” Wilkie said. “The stretching almost plays a trick on your brain. It lets your body realize that those muscles that are tight don’t need to be.

“After you get done with the stretch, [the joint] feels a lot more loose and relaxed and you can move it a lot easier because your brain has kind of shut that tightness down. It basically tells your body that you don’t need to be tight like that anymore and you can move a lot more freely and smoothly.”

Wilkie, a former kinesiology student at UNB, has been a personal trainer for nearly seven years. He was introduced to Fascial Stretch Therapy a couple years ago.

“Through one of the personal training courses I did, Kevin Darby, the head of Darby Training Systems and also head of Stretch To Win Canada, did a demo in his course with [fascial stretch therapy]. After seeing the results people got with it, I said ‘I want to do that.’ ”

The therapy is getting more common in bigger centres, Wilkie said, but still hasn’t become mainstream in Atlantic Canada. Wilkie was the first fascial stretch therapist in New Brunswick but has since had several more join him.

Wilkie said business has been steady but has found it challenging building a customer base because he isn’t a massage therapist. As for Varsity Reds athletes, he has worked with a few members of the volleyball and swim teams.

“I definitely think I should be busier. I think if more people knew about it and the benefits … I think more people would do it.”

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