All you need to do is relax and breathe.
If you’re anything like me, your day consists of sitting at a desk for around seven hours and then manically trying to cram all of your daily movement into an hour long exercise class at the end.
Sure, this routine works wonders for my productivity and cardio fitness, but my hips would probably (okay, definitely) disagree. Even though I stay for the five minute stretch at the end of class and go to yoga twice a week, it turns out that all that sitting down is doing my body no favours.
So when I heard about Massage Envy’s Streto Method, a professionally-assisted stretch service, I jumped (as far as my tight hips would permit) at the chance to trial it.
Bend and stretch
When I walked into the session, I was expecting a massage type experience. The kind where you strip down to your underwear, hop under the towel and get covered in oil. You know, the usual deal. Although when my therapist Cecilio led me to the room and I spied the Trigger Point balls, I soon realised this was going to be no sixty minute stress melting rub down. Unlike a traditional massage, stretch therapy involves a trained therapist performing specific movements that deliver more than you can achieve by stretching yourself.
Beforehand, I was asked to wear workout gear (to give the body room to reach its full range of motion) and drink plenty of water so my muscles and soft tissue were well hydrated (black coffee counts, right?) which I dutifully note.
After taking a brief medical history and chatting through injuries and physical concerns, I hop up on the treatment table. We go through a brief warm-up and then get down to the stretch, which starts with the neck and progresses down to the feet. Cecilio explains that the ancients believed in the idea of, “Where your mind goes, the body will follow.” And for good reason, muscle function is controlled through your nervous system. That’s why the Streto Method starts at your neck and works downward to relax your nerves and muscles for the best results throughout your body.
During the stretches, I’m instructed to simply relax and breathe deeply. Each stretch is held for a minimum of 30 seconds and I’m to rate each on a scale from one to ten. Obviously, some hit an eight sooner than others. Not surprisingly, the weight of a second person can make you stretch at angles that you and your two arms of limited range of motion can’t reach – and it’s a game-changer when it comes to range of motion.
After the hour was up, I was feeling seriously limber. I was given some stretching homework to do daily and recommended to book future sessions. I guess stretching is a bit like training, the more you put in, the more you get out.