Until the last couple of years, I too was guilty, ignoring the importance of stretching after my intense workouts. Now, 30 years later, my body hurts!
I was young and fit, nothing ever really hurt, when I first began my fitness journey, attending 3 classes a week. This was the industry standard, based on the research for that time. Once I began teaching fitness, my workouts increased to 8 to 12 classes a week. I worked out hard, sweating, counting calories burned, and whatever else they were teaching us in the 80’s. I was young, this much activity was easy to me.
While I was a student, I was just like everyone else. Found myself watching the clock during the last 10 minutes of a class, hoping it would be over any minute. My attention span, your attention span, has spun, all you want is out…. Outside thoughts take over when we are less focused. This is when it’s most important for your mind to rest! Unfortunately, this is when these thoughts come back as GUILT!
Dinner, laundry, kids homework, errands, grocery store, clean the house…. Sound familiar? All these thoughts pulling at you at the most crucial time for your mind to rest. Yet, this continues to be the time when many students sneak out…. letting the GUILT over power their minds, leading them to the door.
Most will say, I burned calories to help me lose weight. I lifted weights to increase my muscle strength, and sculpt my body. Now I am a finely chiseled statue, with beautiful 6 pack abs. I certainly know I am the cardio queen in my class, as I worked harder then anyone else. I feel invigorated, strong, and I have lots of energy! What else do I possibly need?
After I became a Fitness Instructor, this is when I began to learn why stretching was so important to our bodies. I followed the industry standards at that time, incorporating stretch in all my classes during the last 8-5 minutes. Did this make me better when it came to my own stretching needs? No… still didn’t feel or see the need! I was young, never really experienced pain in my body.
Boy! Was I missing the overall message, the importance of stretch if you want to age with less pain and more grace! Aging, hum… we hate the term, and love the term.. What are the other options?
Once I was on board with stretching, this is when it became so much more about proper stretching techniques. This is a skill, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s taken years to understand movement and how it best serves our body. Some stretches feel really good, and others do not necessarily feel good. Both are beneficial to our bodies in one way or another.
My ability to teach this technique, is from my own experiences over 30 years of teaching. As I incorporated stretch into my life, it wasn’t long before I began to see a difference in my body and the reduction in pain. This was and is especially true for the chronic injuries. These are injuries I know will never fully heal, as they are torn ligaments, scar tissue buildup, along with other tears and sprains. A life of over tasking my body. I have increased the range of motion in these areas of injury, reducing or eliminating pain. When I miss stretching for more then a week, the pain returns. It is less intensive, however, I suspect it would increase if I strayed for to long…
I am older, I do not want to hurt. I want to enjoy pain free days. This is my motivation for stretching often. I feel so much better! Pain has reduced in my knees, ankles, and back.
It’s possible one day I will need surgery to repair some of the damage, if that is possible. However, there is never a guarantee surgery will work. I have witnessed this after years of teaching students who have had surgeries not work.
For me, stretching reduces the pain and often times eliminates the pain and which makes me happy. Want to learn the medical benefits of stretching? Follow this link
PS: This is not Yoga! Nothing against Yoga…just a clarification…
LACK OF FLEXIBILITY…. plays a major role for why our body has injuries, allowing for daily aches and pains; knees, ankles, back,shoulders, feet, etc…
As a whole or in my experience, the public has not viewed stretching to be as important as our other exercises, when, in fact, stretching is just as important as all the other exercises you put your body through on a daily basis.
Stretching is most important as we age, which is what we all hope to do.
The fitness industry as a whole is not focusing on stretching and the aging, as much as the focus is towards those who are paying to exercise, 20 to 50 years of age. The focus is rarely geared towards aging with grace, with little to no pain. The more we become cardiovascularly fit, and our strength increases, our bodies become less flexible, holding especially true for men. Fortunately for us all, the industry is changing as the fitness population is now aging and above 50. .
This lack of flexibility causes a whole host of problems for our bodies leaving us in a crippled like state of existence as we age, causing an overall increased threat to our health.
If movement increases our pain, we stop moving or we try to avoid moving to avoid pain. Once this happens, we gain weight, providing a negative impact to our overall health. At the same time, lack of movement causes more pain.
The pain of aging is much less than the pain of not moving….
If an injury takes place, it’s not unusual the lack of flexibility aided in the injury. Once there is an injury, stretching becomes an important part of therapy to achieve healing. This is also true for those who suffer because of their jobs, years of being in a position that ultimately caused stress to joints and backs.
Stretching is a holistic approach to helping your body feel better. This is also true with massage therapy. Combining the two can give you years of reduced pain and a healthier existence.
As always, I my love for technology provided a long successful career in technology. My love for fitness has given me more then 30 years of enjoyment.
My writing skills still can’t master… hope you understand the points of the subject…Like we say in a fitness class, “No Judgement Please”
Beth KM….”never quit”