What is Kinstretch?

“You need your joints for your whole life. Make them better.”
– Jeff Schlotter, SVPT client and Very Smart Guy

This insightful quote by Jeff, one of our dedicated and hardworking clients, captures in a nutshell what Kinstretch aims to do. Kinstretch is a system of training designed to improve body control, mitigate injuries, improve joint health, and promote the physical longevity of your body. It is meant to improve your ability to move skillfully and make whatever physical tasks you do in your daily life easier – from gym workouts, to getting on the floor with your kids (or grandkids), to vacuuming the house, to climbing in and out of your vehicle.

But what does this look like in practice? And how can Kinstretch help you, as an individual?

Imagine this scenario: your 11-year-old daughter asks you to come kick the soccer ball with her in the backyard. You do…and find that you feel stiff and locked up, and afterward your hips and back ache like crazy. What seems so easy and natural for her is incredibly taxing on you.

Or this: you need to do some maintenance work around the house that requires kneeling on the floor for a long time. You start working, only to find that your knees and ankles just don’t bend enough to allow you to kneel down low. You end up having to constantly get up and back down again as your legs and back get fatigued trying to find a position that works.

Or one that might be familiar to a lot of SVPT trainees: you have been working with your trainer for a while now and feel that with his or her guidance, you have mastered your squat technique. But you still have a hard time getting good depth and sometimes you feel a nagging pinch in your hip. Or maybe you just can’t quite seem to get your technique on your rows right – despite good instruction and lots of practice, your shoulder blades seem to have an inability to do what you want them to.

All of these scenarios represent situations where the body’s joints are not able to do what is asked of them by a particular activity. For whatever reason – typically years of limited joint movement, or old injuries – the joints lack the needed range of motion. This is where Kinstretch comes in! Kinstretch specifically trains the joints to gain back this lost range of motion, and equips your body to better handle physical tasks. If strength training with weights is preparing the body’s muscles to handle anything, think of Kinstretch as preparing the joints to handle anything.

So what does a Kinstretch class actually involve? At its base, Kinstretch starts with CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations). Among other things, CARs teach you how to move a joint through its full range of motion, without using any other joints to “help”. They teach you how to dissociate movement at one joint from movement at another joint, and to clearly distinguish the difference. This helps you to know where in your body your movement is actually coming from, where stress is being placed on your body during physical activity, and how to control your body to direct stress toward more desirable areas and away from less desirable ones.

With the solid base of body awareness gained from CARs, Kinstretch then branches out into various movement challenges. These challenges are designed to develop your ability to rotate, bend, and extend your joints with a ton of awareness, intention, and control. Each challenge aims to improve a specific joint function that carries over into real life. For example, our soccer parent above could develop the ability to extend the hip back into a good kicking position through a specific challenge that trains the hip’s ability to move backward. Our homeowner could develop better range of motion in the knees and ankles to allow for a comfortable deep kneeling position. And our gym-goer could, through specific Kinstretch training, develop the ability to squeeze that shoulder blade back during rows.

Kinstretch training is highly specific, quite demanding, and incredibly rewarding. It is also very scaleable and accessible. Whoever you are, whatever your life’s physical demands are, and whatever your individual limitations are – Kinstretch can help you. It can address your limitations, improve your movement, and reduce your nagging aches and pains. If the idea of having a better-functioning and more injury-resistant body that can handle a wide range of physical activities appeals to you, consider giving Kinstretch a try!

Erica Saunders, BPE, CSCS, FRCms, Kinstretch Level 1 Instructor