“Stretching is for girls, my Mum stretches”
I overheard this on the train just yesterday. I looked over, expecting to see a 17 year old stereotypical gym-bunny with overdeveloped chest and arm muscles…
But this guy was well on his way to 45 years old, average build and wearing a rather expensive looking suit, as were his friends/colleagues. It got me to thinking – this is still a pretty common attitude towards stretching.
(Also, that I need a new suit – lots of weddings this summer)
I was guilty of skimping on stretching in the past, but the further I venture into my 30s the more little reminders my body gives me that it might be a good idea to encorporate it into my routine.
I don’t remember being AWARE of my joints. So while it’s nice to know that my right knee exists, feeling it when I climb the stairs is perhaps a sign that it requires some attention.
9 times out of ten, joint pain is caused by the muscles or tendons around the joint being tight and either pulling the joint into an unnatural position, or asking the joint to take loads it isn’t designed for.
So these days I make sure I do some stretching and mobility work every time I exercise, and if that makes me like my Mum, then pop me in a maxi-dress and call me Janie!
So if you’re keen on continuing to move freely, you’ve got to make stretching a priority. If this means cutting your workout or run short to include it, do it. Injuries halt progress, far more than losing 5 minutes off your workout. As I’ve already mentioned my lovely Mum, I’ll borrow one of her sayings:
“Slow down, it’s not a race”
The guy on the train’s Mum is obviously clued up, and could probably show her son up on the squat rack as a result – stretching after exercising:
- improves strength gains, therefore progress
- reduces aches and pains in the 48 hours after exercise
- takes advantage of increased circulation to increase range of motion
- improves awareness of your muscles and body
- So why wouldn’t you be doing this, starting today?
The key to effectively stretching is to focus on the muscle groups which need the most attention. And while I can’t tell you each individually what you should be focussing on, if your job involves a lot of sitting down, you want to work on the following:
- Hamstrings (back of your thighs)
- Glutes (your derrière)
- Pecs (the chest)
And as I’m feeling generous, at the bottom you can download and print a simple stretch programme for those puppies. Another great thing to do is use a foam roller, but that is a whole other story – don’t want to overload you!
The best way for me to convince you is simply to say this:
Do you want to be like the guy on the train?
No. Me neither. TOTAL douchebag, despite the flash suit. So go stretch.
If you think you could use some help with your range of motion and mobility there are a range of techniques we use to help our clients, so get in touch and we can have a chat.
Either way, get stretching!
Ian “maxi-dress” Male
PS. Here is that Nun photo I promised