The Last word And Above all … Stretch
Words Alex Gitlin
If you can answer ‘Yes’, and this event was not an accident or a fleeting moment, stand up, take a bow and move on. If, however, you have yet to test your elasticity in anything beyond bedroom aerobics, then read below.
It’s not that I had anything personal against stretching; stretching is good. I was born ready – muscles included. I played competitive sport, had done so without complaint for over 20 years. I ran everyday, hit the weights, had little illness and still managed not to embarrass a T-shirt.
But then things went a tad pear shaped. A prolonged lack of stretching caused my back to become self-aware. Warming up had comprised jogging onto the field; warming down a change of the match shirt. Now I was in for payback. For many years a self-less companion, my spine suddenly decided to fight for self-determination. The cheek.
The tipping point arrived when my vertebrae sought solace in a communal strike. The facets in my upper neck (the muscle cushioning between vertebrae) particularly put up a fuss, forcing my daydreams to be replaced by crippling, needle sharp headaches. Getting out of bed became somewhat problematic; pain- free running a distant memory. Life was not a celebration.
And all this from the improper care of my muscles – they had contracted, others had moved. My shoulders were rounding and my back resembled a Mogadishu high street.
Of course, it was not all doom and gloom. Being devoid of mobility meant the husband-to-do-list was off the menu. No painting the bedroom or mowing the lawn. My new decrepit self did garner some sympathy amongst the ladies. Wife excluded, more so when learning the situation was self-afflicted.
Nevertheless, life was quite rosy on the vertical plains. My salvation lay in stretching, the lack of which had forced my rapid evolution to geriatric slug.
So out came the Pilates ball and a religious commitment to stretching the hams, lower back and shoulder area. I worked on posture. I hit the gym, this time favouring exercises, which developed all muscle groups. I listened to the medical science. I played sport hard but now gave my body the support it needed to take the associated stress.
Within the space of a couple of weeks I was once again play-dough-man. I could bend it like Beckham, all pain disappeared, and I felt good.
Stretching had gotten me back on track. Its importance and benefits driven home; those stretch mats, previously believed to be the territory of ladies – albeit very nice ones, had become my pre and post session haven.
Try it, you might like it.