The tense topic of stretching

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Photo via breakingmuscle.com

I would consider myself a pretty active person. I am a kickboxing trainer, I bike, I play volleyball, I rock climb, I kayak. You name it, I have probably done it if it is an active sport. My biggest problem is that these are all get-up-and-go activities. If you’re also involved in active sports like these, then you might know what I go through every time it is suggested that I stretch before I start.

Ah, stretching. The most seemingly unnecessary waste of time holding you back from getting your groove on. What we really fail to see sometimes, though, is that stretching is the key to physical progress and being physically capable to do all these active activities that we love.

I’ve heard it time and time again, “Oh no, I don’t need to stretch. I never get hurt. I’ll be fine,” Alright, you may be fine now, but 20 years from now, your body might not feel the same way.

What happens when we don’t stretch? Well, at first, nothing. We get to go along with our workouts carefree and quickly, unworried about injury. We’ll see progress and get stronger or better. But one day, we’ll be sitting at our desk in the office and end over to grab that paperclip that just slipped off the desk when suddenly a shooting pain stings your lower back. Could blame it on age, could blame it on just twisting it funny, but these painful muscle pulls and tears can be prevented. How? Stretching.

Imagine your body as a rubber band. When you work out, your rubber-band-body is strung tightly around a stack of notecards, tensing to keep them together. If you were to leave that rubber band wrapped around that pile of paper, eventually the rubber would become brittle and snap. This works the same way with the muscles in your body. If you continue to exert force with your muscles for long periods of time without proper stretching, then your muscles, too, will become brittle and stiff, causing injuries.

I don’t know about you, but I really dislike being injured – even more than I dislike sitting around stretching and waiting to do something active that I love. It is important, though, to get those muscles nice and loose before I get my head in the game. By stretching, I am allowing myself the opportunity to workout to the best of my ability and giving my body what it needs to help me do what I want to do. Yes, stretching can be hard and boring, but instead of sitting there and thinking, “Gosh, I’m so tight,” or “Ugh, this is such a drag,” tell yourself that you are respecting your body and taking good care of it by stretching.

Stretching will definitely be a staple in my workouts from here on out. I want to take care of my body so that I can do all the sports and crazy activities that I love to do. Taking the extra time to loosen up your muscles will keep you going. Believe me, I think it is worth the time investment.

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