StretchLab: Making Recovery, Injury Prevention a Priority

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I think I can speak for a lot of runners when I say we don’t stretch enough. So often after our runs we’re too quick to make some food or hop in the shower, and neglect the most important, and often simplest, recovery method there is. My hamstrings are perpetually tight, which then results in hip pain, but stretching and rolling those muscles out is uncomfortable, so I usually just make the bad decision and skip it.

In early December, however, a unique studio opened in Lakeview to help alleviate this problem; StretchLab hires trained Flexologists to help people stretch out those tight areas, and teach them ways to prevent injury through one-on-one sessions and group classes.

“Stretching is truly for everyone, not just fitness buffs,” said Joia Kopelow, StrechLab Lakeview owner. “Whether you are an athlete, a musician, or sit at a desk all day, it’s essential to block off time for stretching because it prevents injuries, helps your posture and improves your overall health.”

The studio offers 25- and 50-minute individual sessions so clients can determine if they want just a focused stretch or full-body stretch. For my first time, I got the 50-minute stretch, and “full-body” is an understatement. My Flexologist, Rachel, stretched muscles I didn’t even know I had, all while giving me tips and sharing her wisdom on why certain body parts feel the way they do.

Instantly, Rachel was able to diagnose my tight hips as a result from tight hamstrings. Knowing I’m a runner, she focused heavily on my lower body, and told me that my right leg was a lot tighter, which is likely due to my running form. She did tell me that I was very flexible in my hips though, which I admitted that the butterfly stretch is my favorite post-run move.

Once she moved to upper body, she identified my tight shoulders and neck, which is definitely attributed to sitting at a desk and having poor posture. While the stretching of these tighter areas were uncomfortable and sometimes slightly painful, the majority of the session was extremely relaxing; I’d honestly prefer to be stretched out for an hour than have a massage.

After my session, I went for a five-mile run, and I was truly surprised how much looser and mobile I felt! I’ve never been one to stretch before a run, but now I know why its encouraged.

Overall, Rachel was very knowledgeable and taught me some moves I’ve since incorporated into my home-stretch regimen. While I still don’t stretch as often as I should, I notice a huge difference when I do, and try and be more conscious of its importance. StretchLab is a great resource for Chicago athletes to learn about their problem areas, and focus on recovery and injury prevention.

StretchLab Lakeview is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monthly memberships are available for four, eight or unlimited visits per month, as well as drop-in packages.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run many distance races, and is going for her first marathon at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon this October. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism, and is working towards her Master in Arts in New Media and Marketing.

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