Stretching for Health and Fitness — the Latest Trend

Stretching for Health and Fitness

Stretching for health and fitness is the latest trend — and businesses are springing up everywhere to help athletes – and nonathletes – understand the importance of stretching. Besides improving health and fitness and reducing the risk of injury,  stretching feels good!


It’s a great way to warm up muscles before vigorous exercise, cool down after intense exercise – and get your day started in the morning. On the job, stretching provides relief to overworked muscles – and underworked muscles, too – especially if you have a desk job and sit too much.

New and existing businesses have recently capitalized on the fact that many people can benefit from stretching, but don’t take time to do it.

As a result, massage therapy studios such as Massage Envy now offer assisted stretching sessions and companies such as Stretch Zone have opened stand-alone businesses in cities across the country to provide stretching programs using custom-built equipment.

A friend and I took advantage of a free half-hour session offered by our local Stretch Zone to introduce us to their services and techniques.

It was definitely interesting!

The company designed and uses padded tables like those used for massages with thick Velcro-like straps attached to hold customers firmly in place (no rolling off the table!) and to stabilize certain body parts during particular types of stretches.

Stretching for Health and Fitness

And they played Jamaican beach music (reggae) in the background for an energizing but relaxing effect.

The stretch practitioners had us lie face-up on the tables and went through a series of stretches for all parts of the body. They asked us to let them know — by saying a number (3, 5 or 7) – to indicate whether the stretch was light, moderate or intense, and they held each stretch for about five seconds. Then they continued on to the next stretch.

A couple times, they stabilized a leg with a Velcro strip to extend the other leg off the edge of the table for maximum stretch.

I found it awkward and uncomfortable to have someone else stretch me (a muscled young man who looked just like an old boyfriend!), and difficult to have to “rate” the strength of each stretch. When you stretch on your own, you know when you’ve gotten to the maximum stretch and not to go beyond a certain point; there’s no “in-between” stretch involved.

As a result, I must’ve had them overdo something because I had a backache for the next 2 or 3 days and had been in fine form when I went in (having had a 90-minute massage the night before), which was heartbreaking…

So I wasn’t sold on it.

Plus, I do 15 minutes of stretching before I get out of bed every morning and swear that’s the key to feeling good every day — and avoiding the “old lady hobble.”

But my friend enjoyed it and signed up for a series of sessions. (They aren’t cheap: $50 for once a week, and $40 each for twice a week.) A few weeks later, she told me she felt great and was able to touch her toes – which she hadn’t been limber enough to do for a long time.

Give it a try if you think it’s something you could benefit from, especially if it’s a free session! You won’t know if you like it til you try it…

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