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Stretchologist Teaches the Fine Art of Flexibility

By Pamela Sosnowski

Cats know the pleasure of a good stretch. Humans? Not so much. That's why massage therapist Jaja Svoboda opened her Lisle-based massage studio, Stretchologist, and includes stretching classes as part of the services. The classes help counteract the silent stress our bodies endure daily from working at a computer, wearing a heavy purse or backpack, or even texting.

"Those are all activities that make us hunched over and prone to headaches, hand or wrist pain, shallow breathing, and other related issues," Svoboda said. "The stretching class gives our clients stretches to reverse the postural effect of the hours spent curled up; it helps them to experience the openness, bring blood flow to the brain, relieve neck tension, prevent future headaches and calm the mind."

Stretchologist also specializes in Thai massage (or Thai bodywork) which is known as the "lazy man's yoga", and myofascial release, an innovative form of massage that uses sustained pressure on specific areas of the body to release tension and rebalance the body.

Svoboda is well trained in both. Born in the Czech Republic, she developed an interest in massage in her teen years and began administering it to members of her university's tennis team. When she relocated to the U.S. in 2004, she decided to pursue her dream. She became a licensed massage therapist and opened Stretchologist in 2007 with the goal of helping those suffering from pain or discomfort, and empowering them to gain quality of life.

"I started as a Thai massage practitioner, which is a yoga-based ancient form of bodywork," she said. "I completely fell in love with this technique and I wanted to share the feeling of lightness and ease that I experienced with other people."

Thai massage's roots are actually not in Thailand, but in India, where the ancient practice of yoga originated. The massage is not a yoga class where students follow an instructor, but is a one-on-one session between a client and a bodyworker who gently moves the client into several therapeutic poses that may incorporate rocking, compression, and stretches. It is a fully clothed form of massage that doesn't use any oils, and if a client cannot lie down for a session, the therapy can be easily administered using a massage table.

All of the offerings at Stretchologist are flexible to fit accommodate any restrictions a client may have. Svoboda will assess a new client first to determine how how comfortably they can hold a stretch, and customize the session if needed, particularly if one is recovering from an injury or experiencing pain. Svoboda strives to make her space to be a welcome one that clients enjoy visiting.

"I like to make my classes fun and refreshing," she said. "It's a place to let go and connect with oneself as well as the others. My goal is to treat my clients and make them independent and empowered to take charge of their own bodies."

Stretchologist is open Tuesday through Saturday by appointment only, and located on Lincoln Avenue. The stretching classes are open to those that have already had a massage with Svoboda or her staff, and held on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. After a decade of serving the Lisle community, Svoboda continues to study the latest massage techniques to provide the best for her clients.

"I've been providing my services for ten years here in Lisle and I love to see my clients being able to take responsibility for their health," she said. "I love to learn and to study, so I can be a better help to them. It's always a continuous process."

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