working out

No Sweat Flexibility??

The results of the Microfiber Reduction technique developed by Bob Prichard of Somax Posture & Sports seem too good to believe. David Leadbetter was so impressed he had his son, Andy, a 14-year-old golf whiz, undergo treatments. “Afterward we asked Andy — who’s normally pretty stiff for a kid — to check the range of motion in his hamstrings by raising his knee to his chest,” Leadbetter tells me. “Well, Andy almost knocked himself out when his kneecap hit his chin. He was that loose.”

Microfiber Reduction, Prichard explains, is a kind of massage that releases scar tissue that forms in the fascia, or connective tissue, between muscles (see illustration). Every muscle is surrounded by this thin membrane — “much like sausage is wrapped in its casing,” is how Prichard puts it. Through injuries, overuse or stress, the connective tissue can form microfibers that prevent it from stretching. So no matter how much flexibility work you do, Prichard says, the muscles won’t be able to stretch and contract fully as long as they’re restricted by the scarred connective tissue.

Microfibers can’t be seen by X-rays or MRI technology. The only way to know if your range of motion is being restricted by them is to measure your flexibility and then stretch. If there is no measurable improvement, Prichard concludes, then your muscles are constrained by microfibers.

Somax therapists release the microfibers through a series of connective-tissue massages. The length of the program depends on your current state of flexibility, though one client, Prichard says, increased his range of motion in his hamstring by 45 degrees after just one week. Prichard has worked with a number of professional athletes, including David Frost and Nick Faldo. Frost, says Prichard, has recently increased the external arm rotation on his right side by 30 degrees and nearly doubled how far he’s able to rotate his neck to either side. It seems to have helped: Frost, a 39-year-old tour veteran, won the South African Open in January, his first victory since the 1997 MasterCard Colonial.

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