To Stretch or Not to Stretch!

on
Stretch
Stretch (Photo credit: Iguanasan)

As I finished up with my daily run, I felt compelled to eat and go about my business. I realized I had not stretched and I was getting stiff. There was no whining today. My knee was getting better and I knew that my muscles needed to stay loose.   I am trying not reinjuring myself. But I hate to stretch.  It is a big fight within me to do my stretching exercises.  I always felt as if it was an annoyance that I had to do, because my coach, or trainer said I had to. If you are going to be a runner, you must stretch.

So, I grabbed my running partner and went down to my gym to start stretching.

First, I did my easy stretch. I bent over, hung down, as if to touch my toes, and reached for the floor. My partner was not as flexible and she never did any stretching, so I knew I would have to explain what we were doing.

Bend over and hand there keeping your knees unlocked and slightly bent. Push your butt further toward the ceiling and rock gently from the left to right side. “Touch the floor,” I told her.

The next stretch is taking your stretch further by walking your hands out further to elongate the spine. I stretch the neck and shoulders at the same time by gently shrugging and releasing my shoulders. I always rock from left to right during my stretches o I can gently increase the stretch. “Let gravity make this stretch easier,” I said.  “Just hang there.”

“Now reach for the sky.” “Elongate your spine, before we do our next stretch.” We locked our finger together and stretched upward. It really felt good to do that one. But we moved on.

My running partner never stretches so she was very surprised at how stiff she was and ow inflexible she had become. I feel very strongly that people who are over 40 should do something to keep themselves flexible like stretching or yoga.

The third stretch was when you sit in the yoga lotus position with your feet facing together and your knees resting on the floor (or as close to it) either of your body. “Push your knees down to create a stretch, “ I told her.  “Feel the stretch.” We did that for a minute or so then went to more intense stretches.

The next stretch was when you lay on your back (face the ceiling) and put your legs up with your feet flat on the floor, with your knees pointing up to the ceiling. Your hands are facing down on the floor on either side of your body. “Push up towards the ceiling,” I told her.  It was a good stretch but it is hard to get your butt off the floor if you are stiff. “Keep your butt up off the floor and breathe for 10 seconds.” Most people call it bridging. It stretches your back and strengthens it. I learned this stretch during my unfortunate time in physical therapy many years ago.

Another good stretch in the same position is when you stay on your back with your feet flat on the floor and you take one leg and cross one ankle on the other leg at the knee. Then you take the leg that is on the floor and raise it stretching the muscles as you can. One caution is not to overstretch. It seems that if you are too flexible you get stability issue like I have in my lower back.  Because I am extremely flexible, I tend to overstretch.

My last stretch was a typical one where you lay on your side then take your arms and upper body and twist it in the opposite direction. You hold that stretch for a few seconds on each side. Most people do that one because it feels great. So there is no whining here for this one. “We’re done, “ I yelled.

Just then, we sat up and breathed a sigh of relief. My morning ritual was over. I decided to get some coffee. It’s the next step of my day. Time to get my caffeine fix.

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