Stretch Zone offers locals the chance to improve flexibility, avoid injury


Stretch Zone owner Caroline Barnes smiles after the official ribbon cutting for her new studio. CW/Joe Will Field

Kinsley Centers, Contributing Writer

Whether someone is active or not, it is important for them to care for their body.

Igor Santos, the general manager of Stretch Zone, said stretching offers various benefits such as flexibility, an improved range of motion and a decreased likelihood of an injury occurring from tightness. However, some may not understand how to properly stretch their bodies. That is what Stretch Zone is for.

Stretch Zone was founded in 2004 by Jorden Gold in Miami, Florida.  It now has over 80 different locations across the nation. Two of the locations are right here in the state of Alabama, one in Birmingham and now one in Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa studio sits on Jack Warner Parkway right beside Heritage House and Hotel Indigo.

Stretch Zone welcomes all customers regardless of their level of physical activity. Santos said they act as a personal trainers for stretching. 

“We offer practitioner assisted stretching so it’s pretty much a personal trainer but for stretching. And we work with anybody from professional athletes to regular people and those getting out of physical therapy for knee and hip replacement,” Santos said.

Stretch Zone is an appointment-based studio and the first appointment is free. Santos said during the first appointment the customer will come in for a consultation and will learn about the programs they offer. 

Santos said Stretch Zone offers a variety of different protocols to be sure they are able to fit their customers’ stretching needs.  They offer stretching assistance with the upper body, lower body and even neck.

“You come in for your first appointment and we’ll do a consultation on you. So, we’ll talk about what type of exercises you do, if you have any history of lower back problems, knee problems, so again as much as information we can get from you and then after that we got to go over a warm-up,” Santos said. “We perform two tests on you, one in your hip [and] one in your hamstring just to see where you’re at. Then we go over a series of assisted stretching.”

Santos said stretching is important for athletes to take part in as it will benefit them by improving their performance.

Brandon Gibson, a former wide receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide, is no stranger to sports. Gibson said he has played various sports since he was four years old. Gibson grew up as a three-sport athlete, participating in football, track and basketball.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned about my body was you know obviously you can push it as much as you want it to, it’s all mental, but your body is also going to let you know what it can and can’t do if you push it too hard,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s played football at the University  from 2007-2011. During that time the team won two national championships. To this day, Gibson said he still stays active and in good shape. 

“If I’m going to go out and do a run or workout or something like that I’m going to probably jog around first, do some drills just to get my muscles warmed up and then I’m going to stretch. Therefore, my muscles are going to be taken good care of and you know I don’t risk pulling anything or straining anything.”

Before he takes part in physical activity he warms up his body and then begins to stretch. He suggests to take at least 15-20 minutes to warm up and stretch before working out. He said some may believe they will get more tired by doing so but it will actually allow your body to accomplish  more since it will be warmed up and ready for a workout.

“Stretching, pulling, tearing muscles is the result of not warming up properly because what you’re doing is you’re putting a lot of tension on your muscles and they are not being ready for it,” Gibson said. “There is a lot of aches and pains and bruises and stuff like that that happens when you don’t warm up properly and honestly, warming up and stretching properly is going to allow you to compete at the best level possible in my opinion.”

Gibson said it is good to get the bodies blood flowing and the heart rate up a little before going into full performance. For instance, athletes warm up before their performances as they are stretching and doing drills to get their bodies ready.

Gibson said the cool down portion of a workout is just as important as the warm up. He suggests that when cooling down you will need to allow your heart rate to slow down to a normal rate and to avoid stopping immediate because this may cause your muscles to tense up more. Overall, Gibson suggests stretching before and after taking part in physical activity because it gets the body ready and provides flexibility for the individual.

“If you don’t take care of your body it’ll let you know and there’s a lot of aches and pains and stuff like that that people just deal with because they just feel like it is normal but it’s not,” Gibson said.

To book an appointment with Stretch Zone call: (205) 526-4030