I have mentioned my friend Cristin in a past blog (3/17/09, Peas & Corn). We try to get to the gym together when we can and I enjoy working out and chatting with her. For whatever reason, the friends I hold the dearest are those who try to keep me honest (see “Busted”, re: Sherri). I am sure there is plenty of material for the couch here but we’ll save my pathology for another day. Anyway, recently Cristin pointed out my biggest gym flaw. I am terrible about stretching. She happened to mention this shortly after Sherri talked about how at last year’s 3-day, her friend Sue was so good about stretching and how we really had to be good about it too. I agreed but knew that unless someone was watching, I probably would continue to be bad about stretching. I mean the first five minutes of my workout, like any good athlete’s, is spent untangling my headphones. The last five are spent throwing crap in my bag, running to the car, and then practicing deep breathing while I trying not to curse the traffic and the six school buses that are keeping my from picking up my son on time.
I told Cristin she would have to help me get better about the stretching. She threatened that, if needed, she would reach over and slam on the stop button on my machine five minutes before we have to leave to pick up our boys from school (did I mention they are classmates?). So begins my quest to become a better stretcher.
When I decided to blog about stretching I decided to look online to better understand the benefits. Most articles I can find claim that there is not enough research to support the claim that stretching strengthens muscle or decreases the chance of injury or muscle soreness, the main reasons I always thought you were supposed to stretch. It appears that there is some research to support that stretching does increase range of motion, although I am not so sure I really care as much about this. Needless to say, this is not helping me buy into the idea of stretching.
Some of the articles said that the reasons people give for not stretching are that they don’t have enough time, they don’t see the benefits, they don’t really know how to do it correctly, or they don’t want to look stupid. My main reason is time. Like most working moms, or breathing moms for that matter, my day is totally over-scheduled. The gym is my priority, so I work the day around it. However, I get one hour and one hour only, so I am trying to make the best of it. I just can’t see giving up a lot of cardio time to stretch. After looking around online, I am not sure that there is real scientific evidence of the benefits, although I do think I feel better when I stretch. I also am not sure I am stretching properly but could probably buy 200 different books on the topic. The last reason was never really a concern of mine. I don’t know that I worry about looking stupid. I do try to keep my butt to the wall when bending over for long moments, but I never really considered that I might look foolish, per se.
My teaching assistant tried telling me something about “dynamic stretching” as opposed to static stretching which I guess is what I do when I stretch. I told him that me being dynamic was not a stretch. My other teaching assistant just grumbled and my students didn’t get it so we moved on. I did look online to find some examples of this dynamic stretching. The first guy I found made me reconsider that whole looking stupid thing. The second guy I found made this look a little less ridiculous but my friend Chance is a little too cool for school. This one makes me dizzy but Josh and Abbie are British and who doesn’t love listening to a good British accent? All in all, I think I might just take up a little Jazzercise.