The Arizona Cardinals suffered Super Bowl heartbreak despite having one leg up on the Steelers, literally. Most of the Cardinals’ starting line-up employed a unique flexibility programme performed by local Arizona flexibility specialists Ann and Chris Frederick that lengthens fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and joints.
With just 3 minutes to go, the Cardinals led by 3 having overturned a 20 – 7 deficit, but with just 35 seconds left on the clock, Santonio Holmes crossed the line to give victory to the Steelers and continue the Cardinals’ 61-year title drought.
“My legs are feeling fantastic right now and it’s because of her,” says Cardinal linebacker Karlos Dansby of Ann Frederick, or “The Stretch Lady,” as she’s known to many players. Dansby credits Frederick with prolonging his career, telling the New York Times, “I’m glad I’m here to bear witness to the effectiveness of her stretching techniques.”
Frederick performs a trademarked therapy known as Facial Stretch Therapy (FST) that she and her husband, Chris, developed at their Stretch To Win Centre. The therapy counteracts the thickening and shortening of fascia caused by football training and injury, which puts limits on the range of motion and muscular abilities. Two dozen Cardinals take part in the therapy.
“We’re basically helping to make all layers of fascia become more pliable and hydrated,” explains Chris Frederick, also a physical therapist. “Then the joint range of motion, muscle strength and flexibility immediately improves making it easier for the guys to train and maintain.”
Dansby and others believe the Fredericks deserve some of the credit for the Cardinals’ robust health, a key factor in their success this season. The team has placed only five players on injured reserve this season and have had very few pulled hamstrings and similar injuries that nag other teams.
“Our approach is different than other stretching programmes because our techniques are done in a logical anatomical order,” says Chris Frederick. “By stretching the shorter muscles first and then the longer muscles that span several joints, we can give players better functional flexibility at a faster rate.”
Coincidentally, Ann’s longest term high-profile athlete is not an Arizona Cardinal, but Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb. He and Ann have worked together for almost 10 years and even managed to squeeze in a therapy session around her work with the Cardinals last week.
The Fredericks have trained therapists throughout the United States on the FST system and have also published the dynamic exercise techniques in their book, Stretch To Win. This contains details of exercises that individuals can do independently and assisted stretches, like those the Fredericks practice with Cardinals players.