Pin and Stretch Technique

Pin and Stretch Technique

Pin and Stretch is one of the most popular techniques used for resolving tension and pain. It is the fundamental mechanism of many common treatments used by massages therapists, physical therapists, ART (Active Release Therapy) practitioners, Rolfers and chiropractors. ProSqueeze was designed to help people perform Pin & Stretch Technique on themselves in the comfort of their own home.

So what is Pin and Stretch Technique and how does it work? To clearly understand this, we will first need to talk a bit about the basic physiology of muscle tissue and the formation of tension, adhesions, and trigger points.

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The Physiology of Muscle Tissue and Development of Tension

A healthy muscle is formed from individual fibers that run parallel to one another, and are bundled together in layers of connective tissue. Healthy muscle fibers are highly elastic – they shorten when contracted and lengthen when relaxed.

Like the recoil of a rubber band, the strength of the muscle’s contraction is directly influenced by the extent to which the muscle fibers are able to stretch. Connective tissue (fascia) also plays an important role in the functioning of the muscle. As a muscle warms up during exercise, the connective tissue that encases the muscle fibers softens and facilitates the smooth movement of fibers across one another during contraction and release.

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When a muscle is forced to contract without warm-up, when it is over-worked, or subjected to repetitive overuse, micro-tears can form in certain areas of the muscle. The body efficiently repairs these tears by laying down extra tissue (scar tissue) to fill in the gaps. However, unlike healthy muscle tissue with parallel fibers, scar tissue fibers run criss-cross in multiple overlapping layers. Scar tissue is therefore less stretchy than regular muscle tissue and decreases the overall elasticity of the muscle.

Over time, chronic lack of stretch can lead to a decrease in local blood circulation, causing additional layers of surrounding connective tissue and muscle fibers to stick together – forming what is known as an “adhesion.” In addition, with decreased blood circulation, metabolic waste products build up in these areas, irritating nerve endings, which stimulates further contraction and tightening of muscle tissue. As a result, a simple adhesion can develop into an area of hypersensitivity called a “trigger point.”

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The Effects of Stretching

What do you do when you are preparing for a workout and your muscles feel tight or sore? Most people will perform some kind of stretch. You might also do a brief warm-up movement before stretching to increase blood flow and mobilize the connective tissue.

Generally speaking, stretching a tight muscle means bringing the ends of the muscle farther away from one another. To stretch your forearm you have to flex or extend the wrist. To stretch your hamstring you have to straighten or extend the knee.

But what if there’s an adhesion or trigger point in the tissue of the forearm that is actually the primary cause of tension in the entire muscle? Will stretching the entire forearm effectively release the source of the tension?

The tight parts of a muscle that are connected with adhesions or trigger points will usually be chronically tight and weak. Other parts of the same muscle will retain their usual degree of flexibility, and may even compensate by becoming hypermobile. Thus, when the muscle is stretched, the hypermobile parts will lengthen, giving the illusion of flexibility, but the adhesions and trigger points remain largely unstretched. This is why stretching alone is often not enough to relieve repetitive strain injuries or chronic tension.

Pin and Stretch Technique

The main purpose for using Pin and Stretch Technique is to focus the force of the stretch on the specific section of the muscle where an adhesion or trigger point is located. 

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A massage therapist will first palpate the muscle tissue to evaluate tension areas and locate specific adhesions and trigger points. The therapist will then commonly use a thumb, elbow or fingertips to pin the muscle fibers in a spot that is close to the tension area, effectively shortening the overall length of the area being stretched.

Keeping the muscle pinned in this way, the therapist will then move the muscle into a passive stretch or ask the client to actively stretch the muscle while the therapist holds the pin. Pinning the muscle ensures that the stretch will affect the specific part of the muscle containing the trigger point or tension area instead of the entire length of the muscle.

The therapist will then release the pin, reposition it, and repeat until there is sufficient release of the tension associated with the tension area. This approach can also encourage the realignment of scar tissue fibers and the formation of healthy muscle.


How Does ProSqueeze Accomplish Pin and Stretch Technique?

ProSqueeze helps you pin and stretch a tight muscle exactly as a well-trained massage therapist would do. The two foam pads, when placed around the muscle belly close by to the tension area, allow you to pin the muscle, focusing the power of the stretch precisely on the tightest spot. With a few squeezes of the lever, you can adjust the amount of pressure perfectly to your desired level. Then to achieve tension relief, simply stretch the muscle with a little range of motion (like making a circle with your wrist or ankle) while you let ProSqueeze do the lengthening work for you, entirely hands-free. 

Muscle and connective tissue naturally has the capacity to be reshaped through stretching with time and repetition. To stretch with more effectiveness, it is necessary to pin the muscle in the tightest area so that the stretch can be focused directly on the site where relief is most needed. This makes your recovery sessions more efficient and ProSqueeze's portability gives you the flexibility to use it as often as needed, whether at work, or on the couch while watching TV.

Govinda Bader