During my training for 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim (120-mile Marathon Swim over 7 days), I incorporated Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) into my recovery techniques. I was able to work with both Judy Malcolm before the event, and Meaghan Murphy (who recommended the practice to me) during the event. I had never done FST prior to this, but rather was familiar with other therapies like massage and gentle individual stretching. I wanted to demo FST pre-swim, to see how my body would react to it. Judy was very thorough in her explanations of what she was doing, and created a very relaxing environment. Everything she did, she made sure to check in with me and make sure it was something I found beneficial, not painful or “tweaky.” It was important to try FST pre-swim because it gave me a sense of how effective it would be for me during the actual event.
When doing an event that requires a heavy load of taxing mileage on the body via swimming, FST is incredibly useful. During my rest day after stage four of eight bridges, Meaghan came and worked with me using her expertise in both swimming and biomechanics to perform an FST session that was very effective in keeping me loose as well is ready to go for the next day. After stage four, I was experiencing some pain in the bicep and pec areas from the repetitive motion that is the swimming stroke. When you swim 7 marathon swims over one week eventually something will have an ache or pain. When I met with Meaghan she evaluated what areas were causing problems and created an effective FST session that allowed me to loosen the other muscles around the areas that had pain, which as a result relaxed and loosened the areas of concern, and allowed them to heal and rest. Meaghan never directly stretched the area of pain which was a relief to me because that would obviously be an uncomfortable experience which may further promote the problem.
Later that evening I noticed the pain lessening by at least 30-40% and then again In the morning even more so. The next day I was cautious when I entered the water, however I felt much stronger, and less tense/clenched than any of the stages before. I could apply more pressure during the grab portion of my stroke which I wasn’t able to do before. This was so important because that stage lasted 8 hours, and It would have been miserable if I had been experiencing the problems from the stages before.
Unlike massage or static stretching, where you worry about overdoing it and causing even more muscle breakdown and thus need more time for recovery, FST is dynamic, loosens and stretches the muscles in a way that cannot be achieved by doing independent stretching or just through massage. Allowing someone to move your limbs in a way that provides a gentle stretch is both relaxing and important. I was able to let Meaghan take over, and take my mind off having to do something active with my body. Meaghan wasn’t trying to increase my range of motion more than it’s ever been, she was trying to get it back to my personal baseline, which is an important distinction. In my experience, I needed quick recovery to perform back to back at my best. FST was the perfect recovery intervention along with rest and ice. Both Meaghan and Judy are fantastic and I would recommend FST to endurance athletes who are looking to stay loose between events.
Check them out: