Since I wrote about Integrating YTU Therapy Balls into your Daily Routine, I’ve been experimenting with also adding Yoga Tune Up® stretching exercises into my daily routines, and my body has been thanking me for it!

While using YTU Therapy Balls throughout my day has certainly been helpful, I felt something was missing from making these quick tune-ups as effective as they could be. The on-the-go therapy ball use was convenient for making my tissues more awake, relaxed, and supple, but as soon as I would stop this work and resume my repetitive movements and long-held positions (like sitting for hours on end), my pain would return rather quickly.

In retrospect, I was so excited about the new experience of massaging my aches and pains away that I stopped doing what I used to do to deal with them: STRETCH. Finally, I have come to integrate both YTU Therapy Ball work and YTU stretching exercises into my routines, and the combination is combatting my daily discomforts better than ever.

Why stretch?

Often times, our inflexibility and discomfort stems from shortened, contracted muscles that have trouble relaxing. One of the main ways to reduce pain, improve posture, and enhance performance is to restore muscles to their naturally relaxed state, which means lengthening (stretching) them beyond their natural length, so that they can ultimately rest at their natural length, where they can be relaxed.



So, why incorporate self-massage AND stretching? Most simply, because massage and stretching are synergistic: their combined effect tends to be more potent for relaxing and restoring health to muscles than either therapy alone. Massage (or self-massage in this case) essentially primes muscles for stretching in various ways: increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, increasing sensation and kinesthetic awareness (aka proprioception), and in certain cases, removing myofascial restrictions, which would otherwise prevent a muscle (or group of muscles) from stretching to its natural length.

I’ve put together a list of YTU stretching exercises for you to sprinkle in through your day to supplement the therapy ball self-care multi-tasking hacks described in my first article – check back at the end of the week to read for essential stretches for your lower back, hands, wrists, and neck.


Enjoyed this article? Read Integrating YTU Therapy Balls into Your Daily Routine


Max Bayuk

As a competitive high school athlete, Max developed several chronic over-use injuries that left him on the sidelines for his senior year. His journey of fixing these injuries over the past 6 years has taught him the value in integrating one's movement practice -- be it sports, yoga, or any other kind of exercise -- with body work. He has developed a passion for self-myofascial release and its therapeutic effects, especially in combination with strategic stretching, correct posture, and a balanced lifestyle. Max completed his 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training through YogaWorks while at school at UC Santa Barbara in spring 2013, and is now combining his athletic background with his knowledge of yoga, Yoga Tune Up®, and embodied anatomy.

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Thanks for putting some science into the idea of massage and stretching : it helps understand the importance of it and how it could be so usefull.

Jane Thibodeau

Max, I really identified with what you wrote about relying on Tune Up balls alone to solve your aches and pains, and forgetting the importance of combining it with regular stretching. Of course I know that they are a perfect complement for one another, but it’s easy to get lazy and just do one or the other, so thanks for the reminder. I can’t wait to share the information you provided about how rolling preps the body for stretching with my students in my next classes. Thank you!


Thanks Max for including some of the science behind how YTU ball work and stretching movements work synergistically together. I also agree with Nancy’s comment to continuously access, release, lengthen, strengthen, adjust and repeat. Seems as though we must all be students of our own bodies throughout our lives and encourage our students to do the same.


Integrating yoga Tune Up Therapy b is a great for improving posture and range of motion when doing physical activities such as Muy Thai kickboxing, Zumba and Salsa. It will also help with flexibility when doing yoga poses such as down facing dog and leg stretch one , two and three. I will definitely taking doing five minutes of rolling before going to bed knowing, that I will refreshed and ready to go for the next day.


I like the idea of using the therapy balls before stretching. I was using them post-yoga, but in the Tune-up Level 1 training, and as you describe, they are used pre-yoga and stretching. Looking forward to trying more of this method.

joanna yates

I could be much more officiant at using the YTU balls on a daily basis. Once I bought them, I carried them around using them on the subway, agains walls and through out teaching classes on the regular. As I’m learning Yoga Tune Up as we speak, I’m not just noticing postures I want to share with others, I’m noticing poses that will forever change my practice and teaching style. Thanks for the reminder to offer it up to myself daily!

Chakra Balancing

Yes, max stretching is very important. Not stretching muscles are the main cause of pain in the body. Thank you for sharing blog on stretching.


Massage and stretch are a great combination for sure, but too much massage with out correcting the structural issues at the root of the problem is a downward spiral. My Osteopathic therapist told me years ago that massage has its place but too much of this good thing will ultimately lead to a weaker condition. Corrective action is needed as the muscles are loosened unless you want to be a bowl of jelly. Realigning, correcting posture, improve work place ergonomics and strengthening the deficiencies that led to the tight over worked muscles is paramount for long term pain free living.… Read more »

Joy V

This is a great reminder to gain more benefit in YTU practice. Also having the YTU session before massage will allow therapist to work deeper in the tired area.

Alisa Fairbanks

I’m good about doing therapy ball work, but will admit that I don’t always do stretches. Like you, I also replaced most stretching with therapy ball work. I already have good mobility, so I tend to de-emphasize the stretching and just do the soft tissue piece. I know that the combination of stretching and therapy ball work is where the magic truly happens though, and know I will have better changes in my tissues if I do so. Thanks for the reminder!


All of my clients who diligently apply therapy ball sequences to their daily routine have seen amazing differences in there joint range of motion and overall posture!


I too find myself so excited about a new concept that I can focus solely on that modality. I am working on creating a movement practice that honors ALL the needs of my body, and still consists of a variety of modalities. I think that using YTU balls and stretching is going to deliver a 1-2 punch to my mobility issues because they each serve a purpose that complements the other and honors the sophistication of the human body.

Giselle Mari

I find the YTU therapy balls are a great tool, as you mentioned, to prime the body for the next course of action. Its an opportunity to take an investigatory approach to your body and see what’s going on. check In using the therapy balls as a primer, I can then tailor my yoga practice to address some of the common and not so common areas of my body that are needing some love. It ups my game as a practitioner to then start thinking about how to address that in my practice but it also gets me out of… Read more »


The combination of the self-massage with therapy balls and the innovative YTU class with Jill at the Level 1 YTU certification has been a life-changing experience. Literally. My life, as it is right here and now, is changing from todays earlier class. I’ve just completed a self-massage session in my hotel room minutes prior to me typing this and I feel fantastic. Can’t wait to learn, experience and embody even more over the next 5 days!

James Chritton

With something as complicated as the body, just using therapy balls would not be enough to correct all the poor movement of our day. The YTU stretches definitely get overlooked. I think its because the YTU therapy balls are so awesome and stretching requires concentration and dedication. Like the Article max, keep up the good work

april N

Working with clients in massage and yoga to lessen pain of repetitive movements has been very rewarding. Thanks for getting together these stretches.


Do you have any favorite upper back stretches and therapy ball sequences ? I have a super stiff upper back ( years of bad posture haha) and I find that while I’m working on improving my posture through working out and therapy ball rolling, I still experience discomfort when sitting for long periods of time. Rolling out my shoulders and thoracic spine definitely provides me relief but I’d also love to integrate some more spinal extension & back strengthening movements to speed up the healing process



Thanks for this post Max. I think many people get excited about the benefits of the YTU therapy balls and then abandon their normal stretching routine. I look forward to reading about your favorite stretches on Friday.

Nancy Neuenhagen

This is a great concept.Using the Yoga Tune up therapy balls alone is not the answer to solving movement and muscle issues. The tune up balls are a great tool for relieving tension and fascial adhesions in our tissues. This muscle tension or localized pain and discomfort is often just a symptom of other issues. Combing stretches to restore length to a muscle that has been holding tension is an important step. The next step is to look further for other causes. Is there an imbalance in tension or muscle strength from one side to the other, or above or… Read more »