Fitness trends: Assisted Stretching
A new trend is emerging in gyms, studios and spa and wellness businesses.
Assisted stretching is finding a market among both athletes and gym goers as an effective way to improve performance and mobility and avoid injury.
How does it work?
Being professionally stretched involves one-to-one sessions and gives more powerful results than stretching alone, as muscles can be eased past the point of natural resistance.
Sessions typically take place in a communal room, with conversation between therapist and client as they interact, engage certain muscles and work through a carefully designed set of stretches. The aim is for people to leave feeling invigorated, taller and with better posture.
Assisted stretching can also be delivered by PTs doing home visits, as the equipment required is mainly portable.
Tight muscles compress joints and can wear them out too soon, while muscle imbalances can create problems and pain.
Unlike a massage, assisted stretching doesn’t make people feel sleepy, as it’s an active rather than passive experience.
Stretching every day is one of the key elements of any fitness regime, alongside strength and cardiovascular training, but it’s often the most overlooked.
The emergence of assisted stretching as a business model is changing this attitude and opening up useful services for customers and good business for operators.
For those working in sedentary jobs, assisted stretching offsets the effects of limited movement and repetitive actions involved in things like keyboard work, while for those who are active, it can optimise performance and bring the body back into balance.
Recreational athletes can use assisted stretching to improve performance or so they can continue in their chosen sport or activity for longer, through avoiding injury.
Assisted stretching can also be helpful for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and Multiple Sclerosis and challenges such as fibromyalgia, functional leg length difference, kyphosis and scoliosis.
It can also help with rehabilitation after injury and speed recovery.
Supporting inactive people
Flexibility training is also a good place to start for sedentary people who are starting to exercise because it increases their range of movement, it also allows them to follow the example of professional athletes and encourages them to learn more about active recovery.
Training and liability
The main challenge is to ensure staff are correctly trained, as wrongly stretching a client could lead to injuries. It’s important to fully research and vet any training programmes and collaborators before making any investments.
Globally, the market for active stretching services is most developed in the US, where the StretchLab franchise – created by a PT and recently acquired by Xponential Fitness – and billion dollar spa franchisor Massage Envy, with its Streto Method, are growing fast.
Both involve stretching sequences that work from the top down, helping to improve flexibility, increase mobility and boost everyday performance.
In the UK, a number of health and fitness operators, such as Virgin Active, are also beginning to offer stretching sessions.
Given that everyone can benefit from assisted stretching and that both being active and being sedentary necessitates the need to stretch, we expect this trend to find a market through a wide range of wellness-related businesses and grow significantly in the next five years.
by Liz Terry, editor, HCM Magazin
Ⓒ Cybertrek 2019