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Stretch a mile

01/09/2009

My mom and dad used to say this to me every morning they woke me up for school and I didn’t want to get up.  They would rip the covers off of me so I would freeze and have to get up.  Then they would laugh as I stretched every which way to try and wake up my teenage body to get ready for school.  I kind of thought it was appropriate to tell this little tale because lots of my teacher friends are back to school today and my friends with kids are so happy to be doing the same thing to their kids….Happy First Day of School 🙂  (I actually kind of miss the first day of school from being a teacher…wide eyed kids not quite sure what is in store for them…but I digress).

But I realized last night that I think the last time I stretched really might have been those early school mornings (okay not really but it sure seems like it).  Sure I do yoga but that’s more for strength and flexibility and working on my core.  And yeah I do the stretches my trainer gives me when I lift when I’m actually with her…I kind of skip them when I do it on my own.  But I don’t really stretch otherwise.  I kind of think its a waste in someways and I’m just confused as heck about it. 

Yep just like this :-)

Yep just like this 🙂

When I was a kid in gym class and in the marching band we always stretched BEFORE.  Get into gym clothes…check.  Stand in line for attendance…check.  Follow the leader for all the crazy stretches…check.  Now lets play.  We never really stretched afterward.  Now my trainer has me warm up on the Treadmill, stretch, lift, stretch.  So I get the before and after.  And I’ve heard Jillian (Michael’s…yeah we’re on a first name basis 🙂 ) say that you shouldn’t stretch before because it could damage your muscles to stretch cold.  What’s a girl to do?

Well I listened some more to Jillian and her science and did a little research.  Turns out neither is necessarily bad but it depends on the order you do them.  You should always warm up before you do any stretching so my trainer has that right.  Your muscles need to be warm to get the most benefit out of the stretches.  A nice brisk walk before should do the trick.  Then do some dynamic stretches that move your body through a range of motion instead of bouncing static stretches that could tear your muscles.  These mimic the motions your body makes while exercising and can make exercise easier and reduce pain later.  And finally after whatever activity you are doing you should stretch again.  This can be more dynamic stretches or some yoga to keep your muscles loose after working them.

Now that I’ve done this little bit of work I need to actually put it into practice.  My body kind of rebelled against me and my run last night.  My hip was just not having it.  I had to walk and do the elliptical instead of my 2.5 miles.  I have been the stretching slacker For-ev-ah and my hip had finally had enough.  I looked up some good dynamic stretches and yoga stretches for hips and did them this morning to loosen up the tight muscles in my hip that are sore.  Here’s hoping that my hip appreciates the effort and will reward me with a nice pain free run.  And I in turn should be nice to it and the rest of my body and do some more stretching.

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