Outside Magazine
A Bit of a Stretch Image Credit: Outside Magazine
A Bit of a Stretch Image Credit: Outside Magazine

A Bit Of A Stretch


Chris Colin
THE NICE LADY folded my left leg just north of my right ear. My hip flexors wept. When at last she let up, relief surged through my hamstring and calf and several other muscle groups I hadn’t been aware of before today. Something else I was made aware of: my body is largely defective.

Defective isn’t the word that the nice lady, Diane Waye of Stretching by the Bay, used. She was more tactful and technical, explaining the deficiency of my myofascial structures. But the point stands. My self-care regimen had long prioritized strength and cardio, while flexibility limped along as an afterthought. As an otherwise fit 42-year-old, I had the range of motion of a sycamore.

Enter the stretching studio. Practitionerassisted stretching, as it’s sometimes called, is a growing craze in the fitness cosmos. The thinking goes like this: all of us, from serious runners to hunched desk jockeys, have neglected our fascia (the thin veneer of tissue that encases various muscles and organs), our joints, and a whole slew of other problem areas that even yoga can miss. Between Stretchlab in Los Angeles and franchises like Stretch Zone, Lymbr, and Stretch U with locations around the country, a growing army of stretching coaches and flexologists (they’re really called that) have assembled to bend us into better health.

In recent years, research has increasingly questioned the virtue of static stretching— passively holding a positio

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