Second look

Stretching is hard; do it anyway

It’s been tough for me to get back into my regular 4-5-days-a-week workout schedule, but I’m slowly making my way there. I’m now up to the three-days-a-week government recommended minimum.

For those of you who have been with me since I started this page about 2 months ago, you know I’m been off of my routine because of some recent life changes.

I know a change in schedule isn’t really an excuse, but I’ve found it’s just as hard to come up with a new schedule as it is to do it. I can never be one of those people who work out in only 30-40 minutes because I have to stretch for about 20-30 minutes afterward. Needless to say, that takes as long as the workout. And I’ll bet a lot of older women have the same problem.

Flexibility has never been my hallmark. I have a very clear memory of my first grade teacher pushing on my back when we all were supposed to touch our toes. I could not do it. As long as I can remember I’ve never been able to touch my toes without bending my knees.

In high school, my gym teacher took the time to keep me after class one day and run me through some exercises. She figured out I had stiff hips and really, from then on, my body just got stiffer, since I was never very active. Inactivity leads to more inflexibility.

The last time I was able to sit cross-legged, I was about 34. That was a long time ago. I used to get pretty discouraged by my stiff limbs, but now I realize it’s just me and I’ve learned to live with it.

When I am regularly doing yoga (once or twice a week), or I pay my trainer to stretch me once a week, I do much better. I can move around better and I just feel looser and more mobile. Flexibility really does make a big difference in how you move. And as I age, I realize it’s even more important to stay as flexible as I can. It matters if I take a fall later as I approach 60s, 70s, 80s, and I hope 90s. My intent is to keep working at my flexibility until a doctor tells me I have to stop.

Jen, the woman who I work with on exercising, is trained as a physical therapist. She teases me that I’m the tightest person she has ever known. It might be true. But the key for me is knowing my issues and working on them to stay as flexible as my body will allow. Yoga has taught me to work within my ability, or as my doctor says, within my pain level.

And yes, I should stretch every day. But, like most people, I’m not perfect. So while I can’t do it everyday, as my workouts get back to 5 days a week, I’ll be stretching enough to feel the difference, and I think that’s probably the point, yes?



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