Monday, April 2, 2012

Getting Mashed by Anne and Steve

March, 2010   It is a cold, sunny afternoon in Florida.  I am lying on a yoga mat on the floor of a suburban house near West Palm Beach. Anne Tierney and Steve Sierra sit on chairs on either side of me and pummel my leg muscles with the heels and sides of their sock feet.  This technique, called mashing, is intended to relax my very tight calves and quads so that Anne and Steve can resistance stretch my legs.  In resistance stretching I contract the muscle while they push against my leg to open up the stretch a little bit more and a little bit more….

I first learned about Innovative Body Solutions, as Anne and Steve are known professionally, from a New York Times Magazine article by Elizabeth Weil on Olympic swimmer Dara Torres.  Torres, an IBS client, who calls resistance stretching her “secret weapon,” believes that it has contributed to her being able to win medals even in her forties.  I have come to Florida with a less ambitious goal, hoping to get a bit more movement out of a leg injured five years ago and some help with stiff shoulders.  My specific goal is to be able to do the yoga pose called “Sleeping Child,” in which you kneel on the floor with your upper body folded forward against your thighs.

What Anne and Steve try help their clients to achieve is balance.  A body with muscles in balance functions more efficiently and is less likely to be injured.  They move each of my legs back and forth at every possible angle.  My quads and calves are tight, possibly the result of hours on the cross-trainer, while the hamstrings and glutes are weak.  Basically, I need to stretch out the fronts and strengthen the backs of my legs.  Also, my medial hamstring (inside of the leg) needs work, especially on the right side.  They show me how to do several exercises that will work on these areas.  They give me a booklet and a set of DVDs demonstrating the complete resistance stretching workout.

When I go back the next day Steve addresses the condition of my shoulders, moving my arms up and down in all directions.  Steve advises me that the trapezius muscles (a diamond-shaped structure running from the neck out to the shoulders and down the center of the back) are overactive and that my rotator cuff areas are weak.  Later he sent me links on the web to videos showing rotator cuff exercises.  IBS also sent me a complete report on what they had seen and what they had done about it.   As a result of the work with IBS, the range of motion in my right knee has improved, there is more flexibility in my neck…and I can do Sleeping Child.

November, 2011   This time we visit Anne and Steve at the elegant new Ki-Hara South Beach studio in Miami.  They do more work on my legs and show me a whole new set of exercises in which I lift and extend my legs in different directions.  Anne introduces me to the Trigger Point kit which I can use for rolling my muscles and getting rid of tight spots.  I leave feeling that my body has had a real treat.

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