Sandy Piccolo has been a certified fascial stretch therapist in Sault Ste. Marie for the past six years.
Fascial stretch therapy (FST) consists of table-based, pain-free assisted stretching, focusing on the fascia, a network of layered connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones and joints.
“The most challenging part of my profession is educating people about fascial stretch therapy because it is relatively new. Most people think of traditional stretching as something that is painful and they are often scared at first. FST is really the opposite…(but) pain and chronic problems are not something that can be fixed overnight,” Piccolo said.
Though still widely unknown to the general public, athletes and pro sports teams (including the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers and the 2015 U.S.A. Women’s World Champion Soccer team) have had FST therapists on staff.
“There’s no real way to describe the type of stretching you will receive without actually experiencing it. Many of my clients describe it as ‘yoga on crack.’ Your body will be moved and stretched in ways that you just can not do on your own,” Piccolo said, adding clients often remark they literally feel lighter after an FST session.
Piccolo's FST sessions typically last for 30 to 60 minutes.
Piccolo, a Pembroke, Ont., native, lived and worked in Ottawa for BDO Dunwoody and, while there, became a personal trainer and fitness instructor 20 years before moving to the Sault in 2002.
Employed by a local accounting firm, she also worked as a personal trainer at a Sault fitness club before officially retiring in 2018 and moving her passion and expertise in fascial stretch therapy to Bar 1’s Urban Fitness.
Fascial stretch therapy was created by Ann and Chris Frederick of Stretch to Win in the late 1990s, Piccolo travelling to Arizona to learn FST and certified as a professional fascial stretch therapist in 2014.
“Fascial stretch is for everyone," Piccolo said. "I’ve taken care of athletes, military people, cancer patients, people with arthritis... My oldest client is 81, a retired nurse, and she loves the therapy. It becomes part of your everyday routine.”
“I like it here (at Bar 1’s) because the therapy room is comfortable and my clients can do stretching on the gym’s equipment as well,” Piccolo told SooToday.
“My clients say, ‘Sandy, I was able to bend over and tie my shoes, I was able to get down on the floor and play with my grandson.’”
“That makes me feel great.”