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Q & A with Sara Abgrall and Stretch Studio Double Bay

1) Your name and title:

Sara Abgrall – Manager of Double Bay Stretch Studio (Flagship Location)

2) Age

26 Years Old

3) How long have you been doing this for?

10 months of purely assisted stretching (just 1 month after we opened). However, I’ve been in the health and wellness industry for almost 9 years now. With years of experience as a certified Personal Trainer in both Australia and America, as well as a Physical Therapist Technician, and a Group Fitness Instructor.

4) Can you tell me a bit about ‘The stretch revolution and why a stretch is better than a workout?

What’s the first thing that your body naturally does when you wake up in the morning? Stretch! Everyone knows intellectually that they need to stretch and how great it feels when they do; it’s just a matter of actually making the time to do it.

People are starting to become more aware to the benefits of stretching in your overall health and wellbeing. There has long been science proving the importance of stretching for injury prevention and recovery, as well as how it enhances your sports performance to help you move better and increase mobility, and of course how it simply relieves tension and stress in the body and helps improve your posture.

I believe that many people are now prioritizing stretching into their lives to improve their health and increase the quality of their life.

5) Can you explain what assisted stretching is?

Assisted stretching is a form of stretching in which a ‘flexologist’ (professional assisted stretcher) exerts gentle force upon the limb to move your body into certain positions. Once you’re in the position, the flexologist will ask you to do a mixture of PNF (resisted stretching) and static stretching.

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching is when the flexologist asks you activate a certain muscle, push into them and they gently push back. This is more effective at strengthening the muscles, by contracting them in the elongated state, as opposed to shortening and contracting them.

Once you release the contraction, you then hold the stretch (static stretching) for a specific amount of time, allowing your muscles fibers and tissue to lengthen and stretch.

6) How is it different from solo stretching and yoga?

Because your working 1 on 1 with a Flexologist, they are able to guide your body into deeper stretches than you could get on your own. The Flexologist is basically doing all the work for you; you simply lie on our custom stretch beds and relax. Rest assured, you are always in control of how intense the stretch is by letting them know when it’s far enough.

7) What are the benefits?

Stretching is so beneficial in your overall health and wellbeing. There has long been science proving the importance of stretching for injury prevention and recovery, as well as how it enhances your sports performance to help you move better and increase mobility and muscle balances, and of course how it simply relieves tension and stress in the body and helps improve your posture.

8) How much is it? Is it worth the money?

We have stretch sessions ranging anywhere from 20 mins up to 60 mins, starting from just $39. We also offer packages, of 5 or 10, which save you up to 10% and get you stretching more often. It truly is worth the money and has helped many people in countless different ways.

9) What do people love about this?

They can move better, stand better and they feel better. We see improvements after only a few sessions. It’s really great being able to improve the quality of people’s lives.

10) Is it something people are doing instead of a massage? To heal from an injury? To prepare for a marathon? What is the ‘goal’ of the bulk of your clients?

Yes, absolutely. Many of our clients say that this is better than a massage or that they come in to get stretched instead of getting a massage. It gets deeper into the muscles than a massage, really relieving tension and tightness in to body.

People come in with such an array of different goals. I’ve stretched clients ranging from:

Middle aged Iron-Men and mothers preparing for a Marathon wanting to move and recover better.
Hard working businessmen and women looking to improve their posture and relive tension and pain from sitting all day.
Professional athletes and school kids, aiming to enhance their sports performance.
Grandmothers and grandfathers looking to help with their mobility and flexibility.
We also, are a provider on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, so we stretch clients needing special care, ranging from MS, Chronic Arthritis, to Cerebral Palsy.

11) What are 5 simple and effective stretches people can do at home?

1. Glute stretch – Cross your ankle above the opposite knee, creating a figure 4 position, and lean your torso forward with a straight spine. This can be done seated or stranding.

2. Hamstring stretch – legs straight out in front, with only a micro bend in the knee to avoid hyperextension, then reach for your toes with a straight spine. Avoid bending your knees or rounding your spine in the name of going further.

3. Quad/hip flexor stretch – Standing tall, bend the knee, grabbing onto your foot behind you and bringing it up to touch your bum. Keep your knees together, pushing your hips forward.

4. Chest and shoulder stretch – standing in a doorway, bend your elbows into a 90 degree, field goal position (elbows in horizontal line with your shoulders), grabbing your hands onto the sides of the doorway. With an open chest, take one big step forward until you feel the stretch in your chest.

5. Hip Adductor (Inner Thigh)/Groin stretch – Sit with your feet wide and straight out ahead of you (V shape). Keep a micro bend in the knees to avoid hyperextension, sit up tall with a straight spine and lean for reaching for your toes. Avoid bending your knees or rounding your spine in the name of going further.

12) What do you think your services are becoming so popular?
As a whole, we are becoming more educated on how to look after our health, and are realising prevention is far better and cheaper than curing. Stretching is essential for your mobility and flexibility and sports and especially as you get older. It’s also such a great stress release as tension held in the body needs to be release somehow and this is so much more effective than massage.

13) How is stretching an essential part of an active life? (For example – I do loads of exercise but so rarely stretch – am I doing more damage than good?)

Without stretching your repeatedly strengthening but shortening the muscles, you can cause restricted mobility, and muscle imbalance in the body. The tighter your muscles and stiffer your joints become, the more likely you are to injury yourself when doing simple day to day activities like; exercising, engaging in activates with friends or family, or even just picking something up off the ground.

It really is essential if you want to move well throughout your life to include stretching in your weekly if not daily plan.

I actually injured myself during my early PT years, resulting in surgery and the physical therapy, due to my unbalanced life of too much exercise and not enough stretching. This is what nudged me into the right direction of incorporating more stretching into my life, and why I firmly believe in what we’re doing at the Stretch Studios.

14) Should we be stretching every day?

Yes. You don’t have to complete an entire 30 -60 minutes stretch routine everyday, but you should at least be spending 5 minutes stretching and moving your body daily.

The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy recommends that you complete this “intensive stretching” (PNF + Static) 2-3 times per week.

15) Why do people come to you when they can stretch themselves? i.e. is this a sign of our fast paced, outsourcing society – paying something to ensure it is done properly? Are we too lazy or not disciplined enough to do it properly ourselves?

The thing is, most people don’t stretch themselves. They may intend to but it doesn’t usually happen. It’s not nearly as effective to do PNF stretching solo. You want to have someone stretch you who is experienced in knowing where your body can safely go. Resistance stretching is proven to be the most efficient and effective way of improving mobility and flexibility and we offer a stretch routine designed by an integrated Physician, Kinesiologist, Chiropractor, etc., and delivered by thoroughly trained flexologists, who care about your well being.

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