R.O.S.S. strategy for efficient, pain free movement!

If you have seen me for a class or one on one training session you have no doubt heard me talk about my R.O.S.S. concept. A few years ago during yoga class I was explaining the order of operations I prefer when doing any kind of movement (yoga, Pilates, strength work, interval training etc…) and one of my ladies came up with the acronym – R.O. S. S., for Release, Organize Strengthen and then Stretch. Thanks Maureen!

Why R.O.S.S.? By working in this order, you strengthen and stretch efficiently, allowing for freedom of movement without pain or injury.

Want to be able to garden for four hours on Saturday without injuring your back, or play on the floor with your grand kids without being hobbled with knee pain the next day? Well listen up because I have a plan for you!

So what does R.O.S.S. mean exactly and how would you incorporate this concept into your workouts? In five to ten minutes you could easily go through one of two of each of these moves for a quick, well rounded program, say when you first wake up in the morning. For one of our sixty minute classes we may start with five minutes of release work, another five to ten of organization, the next forty minutes or so of strength work, then the last five stretching.

When training a client who is recovering from an injury we might flip that equation, doing primarily release and organization work, and less strength work, depending on what her body needs that day.


Often when we are injured or suffering from muscle tightness we think “oh I should stretch”. Yes that is true. I would add that you should stretch after doing all of the above. By starting with even a minute or two of release work you allow time for your muscles to get the message, “hey all you tight muscles can relax, we don’t need you just yet”. A lot of us suffer from chronically tight neck, shoulders and hips (or upper traps, pecs, hip flexors, quads and glutes to be more specific) especially if you spend a large portion of your day in front of a computer, or driving, or both. By spending a few minutes at the start of your workout allowing these muscles to relax you are training your body to work more efficiently.

Here is Baby Bear, an example of release work:

Anne baby bear 2 5.16

Anne baby bear 1 5.16

Anne baby bear 3 5.16



Our next step is organization, or stabilization. Now we ask the small organization muscles (paraspinals – the muscles that run along your spine, the group of shoulder muscles that make up your rotator cuff, the smaller glute muscles – medius and minimus, and your obliques for example) to get on board. These helper muscles keep us injury free by kicking in a millisecond before your large prime movers. For example, as you reach down to lift a heavy box your pelvic floor and deep abdominals engage, then your legs, back, shoulders, and arms activate to lift the box.

Bird dog is a nice example of stabilization work:

Anne Bird Dog 6.10

This work is about only using the muscles you need to (again, efficiency) to do the task at hand. For example during bird dog can you use the least amount of effort to lift your arm? No tensing your upper traps, rounding your back, or holding your breath.


Ok we released, we organized, now it’s time to strengthen. ACSM guidelines call for 2 -3 days a week of strength work, including exercises that train major muscle groups. As you are lifting weights or executing body weight exercises can you breathe, maintain proper form, and perform your movements in a controlled manner, and through a full range of motion? If not, stop and reorganize yourself. Depending on your strength goals, shoot 2-4 sets, with 8-15 reps of each exercise. My favorite anywhere strength workout is a quick warm up (brisk walking or stair climbing) followed by two to three rounds of one minute of each – Squats, Pushups (or Plank hold), Lunges, and Dips.

Rows, one of my favorite strength exercises:

Anne Rows beach 6.10

Anne rows beach 2. 6.10



Now we stretch! The manner of stretching I do with my clients (and myself) has changed quite a bit over the years. Instead of holding long static stretching (or God forbid – straining, holding your breath or trying to muscle through tightness) I try to find ease and gentle movement while stretching. That might look like gently lifting and lowering your leg during a passive spine hamstring stretch (see photo below).

When we force our muscles into an overstretched position our bodies believe we are in danger of muscle injury and work like crazy to protect the area by shortening it. If we stretch in a relaxed fashion, breathing and moving with curiosity rather than force our muscles naturally lengthen and relax. Doesn’t that sound less like torture?

Here is an example of a hamstring stretch done with ease, moving gently in and out of the stretch:

Maddie Leg Circles 1. Jan 2013

Maddie Leg Circles 2. Jan 2013


The R.O.S.S. method allows you to be mindful about your movements, and also helps you prevent injuries.

Have you ever gone to a yoga class thinking “This is going to be great, I’m gonna feel so good after all this stretching!” only to injure yourself by overstretching? Next time try applying my R.O.S.S. principles – get to class a little early and go through a few baby bears and bird dogs. As you are holding static poses check in with yourself to see that you are staying organized. Often yoga poses incorporate strength and flexibility. For example in triangle (see photo below) can you avoid hanging out in your joints by unlocking your knees and elbows. Can you provide support by engaging your core, leg, shoulder and back muscles? Can you find length in your body without overstretching?


Anne triangle 2.16


Want to learn more about Anne’s R.O.S.S. program, or how to work pain free and injury free? Contact Anne today for your complimentary consultation. (503) 705-4762


Anne McCranie is a Portland, Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. She offers classes, and movement + massage sessions to help her clients reduce stress, and improve strength, flexibility and balance.


The October Five Exercises – Burpies!

On October 5, 2016, in Fitness, by Anne

The Five are up! Can you go through one minute of each of these moves every day this month? Let’s start with burpies.

This exercise is a complex, multi joint movement that increases upper body and lower body strength, improves hip mobility, and gets your heart rate up. Click here to see full descriptions of the October Five and click here to see beginner to advanced burpie options including videos.

Jenny burpies 1 10.15

Jenny burpies 2 10.15

Jenny burpies 3 10.15


Anne McCranie is a Portland, Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. Please see your medical professional before beginning a new exercise program.


Fiesta Beef And Cornbread Casserole

On September 29, 2016, in recipes, by Anne

Have y’all met my neighbor Margaret? She is a hoot. She grew up in Oklahoma during the depression and has told me some fascinating stories about her childhood. In fact the next time you find yourself complaining about the slow download speed on your phone, or the fact that the store was out of your favorite brand of organic soymilk, come visit Margaret and she will give you some perspective 🙂

Here she is posing with me at her 90th birthday party.

Anne n Margaret 2014

She still keeps up her own home, works in her yard, drives herself to the store and loves to cook and give away food (lucky me!).

She feeds me. A lot. Recently in addition to tomatoes from her garden she brought me this fiesta casserole and it was delish. I told her how much I liked it and she wrote out the recipe by hand (see photo below). Oh to have this penmanship!


I made her recipe, with a few changes. I used fresh peppers and tomatoes rather than jarred salsa, and organic beef from Trader Joe’s. I also doubled the peppers and added zucchini so this ended up making two batches of chili. I doubled the cornbread as well (I wanted to make sure there was plenty on cornbread on top). If you are not feeding an army you could easily cut this recipe in half.



Check it out and let me know what you think.


Fiesta Casserole

Chili Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 2.25 oz can sliced black olives
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 3-4 cups fresh)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste




Cornbread Ingredients:

  • Two boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix
  • two eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish if you like)
  • 4 oz can of green chilies
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese



  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large, deep, ovenproof skillet, sauté onions, celery, peppers, zucchini, garlic, and beef til meat is no longer pink, and veggies are soft (6-8 min).
  3. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, olives, tomatoes, corn, broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes.


Prepare cornbread:

  1. Mix cornbread per package directions (mix + eggs + milk).
  2. Add chopped cilantro and green chilies to cornbread mixture. Stir until just combined (there may be lumps). Spoon cornbread mixture over chili.
  3. Bake 30-35 minutes until cornbread is golden and cooked through.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese, and put under the boiler. Broil on high until the cheese is bubbling (watch it closely so it does not burn).
  5. Let stand for five minutes before serving.



Anne McCranie is a Portland (Sellwood), Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. She offers this recipe to tickle your taste buds. Please see your medical professional for specific dietary advice.

Ah the dreaded Mountain Climbers. Second only to Burpies (or maybe Medicine Ball Push Ups) for the amount of cursing that goes on during class or a training session when we do these. Never fear, I have an easy beginner version that does not involve jumping. If you have healthy knees please do try to do these as quickly as you can (moving without pain of course). Camel is one of my most/ least favorites, meaning it is very difficult for me and something I should be doing more of.

The photos below are meant to jog your memory about the exercises we have done together. Click here for detailed descriptions of these exercises. If you are new to this type of movement please join one of our ongoing classes or schedule a one on one session with me so we can go over these safely. As always our goal is to push ourselves just enough to feel challenged, but not enough to cause pain of injury.

September Five:


Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers 8.15 (2)

Side Plank

side plank Maddie 9.15


Camel 9.15


Kathleen corkscrew 9.15

Roll up

Marnie roll up 2


Anne McCranie is a Portland (Sellwood), Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. Please see your medical professional prior to beginning a new exercise program.

Fluid Movement + Massage, LLC

Anne McCranie | Personal Trainer/Licensed Massage Therapist | 1644 Southeast Clatsop Street, Portland, Oregon 97202 (Sellwood) | License #9460