Stretching, or in all accuracy, flexibility, has been my nemesis for a long time. Ever since I realised I was no good at it. Mainly this is demonstrated by my inability to touch my toes.
I always figured that this didn’t matter too much – how often do I need to do this? As long as I can bend my knees, I’m fine.
Nevertheless, I have put some substantial effort into trying to become more stretchy – from regular and routine stretching post-exercise, to attending yoga classes. I appear to be more flexible in those hot yoga classes but I’ve never seen any lasting improvement.
I don’t think I even like stretching, with the exception of a lower back twist, but I do like the time and space that it gives me.
And finally, I’ve read some evidence that shows that it doesn’t really matter – you can’t even “stretch” many muscles – at most a gentle elongation can be created. So, there appears to be:
– no impact on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness – aching legs a day or two after exercise)
– no impact on increase range of movement at a joint
– BUT: it does feel good.
So stretch because you like it, because it can temporarily relieve pain or uncomfortable feelings. Think of it as a similar response to rubbing a stubbed toe.
However if you do have specific muscle problems or injuries, stretching the affected local area can aid the road to recovery. Often this needs to be done passively or with the aid of a therapist – so you may want to find a reputable one or read up on self treatment.
And doesn’t this reflect life choices in the bigger and broader sense? If it doesn’t do you any harm, and you can take a positive from it, then do it.
I write this having finished a marathon 7 hours ago. No stretching yet but I think I’ll run through some elongations before bed!
My reading was from Paul Ingraham’s site saveyourself.ca