Tuesday, April 13, 2010

S T R E E E E E T C H ....

Stretching is sooooooo important but most of us don't want to waste what little time we carve out of our busy lives to do something so easy and boring before we get down to business with cardio and weights or maybe it's just me. I've learned the hard way that it's absolutely essential to make time for stretching.

My screaming lower back muscles are proof that you can't do all the cardio you want without stretching BEFORE and AFTER. I'm weaning myself off the pain killers (vicodin) and muscle relaxers (flexeril) and getting back to the gym at about half strength. Before I hurt my back I was cranking out 60 minutes on the elliptical and feeling strong and happy to work up a good sweat. I'm not happy that I'm only able to get up to 30 minutes on the elliptical before my back/side/hip starts feeling it. I don't want to push myself out of commission again so I'm going to start listening to what my body is trying to tell me.

Do you make it a point to stretch before and after you workout? How long do you stretch? What type of stretches do you think are most important to do before doing cardio? Any tips on how to get it done without falling asleep on the mat from boredom?


  1. Like most people, I used to be really bad about stretching. A little over a year ago, though, I started having trouble with my right piriformis muscle after doing a 30-day exercise challenge. Since then, I always stretch my whole body after each aerobic workout, and for a while, I was also doing pilates to strengthen my core. Both helped my pain a lot.

  2. I don't stretch either... but you do make a good point. Assuming my back ever stops trying to kill me and I'm able to train again, I'll have to think about introducing something myself. But it really is sooooo dull...
    Maybe a very short, very gentle yoga workout (I have a dvd with a 15 minute session) would help - something to think about! Thanks for the reminder of what I SHOULD be doing! And thank for your comment on my blog too!

  3. Wow, is this a relevant post for me! I'm also getting back to the gym after having to curtail activity due to knee issues. The one thing I know I'm terrible about is stretching because I'm not really sure how to best do it. Thanks for bringing this up, because like you, I don't want to set myself back by reinjuring a part!

  4. That's why I like my "Crunch" Pilates DVD, she incorporates stretching in all the sequences so it becomes part of the workout.
    Glad to hear that you are feeling good!
    Keep up the amazing work.

  5. I don't do much in the way of formal stretching before a cardio workout, but I do start out fairly slowly and consciously "feel" for my muscles to warm up and be ready for more intensity. That's usually 5 minutes, sometimes more in the cooler weather. If it takes longer, I give it longer. My after stretching is fairly lengthy, not because I'm particularly diligent, but because I'm trying to catch my breath and cool down. :)

  6. um yeah lol.
    I didn't stretch until I started doing the elliptical alot..then one day my leg said "nope'.
    I have been stretching ever since.
    Stetching=good idea. I do it daily.

  7. I actually don't stretch. I find that it doesn't make a difference to how I feel before, during, and after workouts. I actually read an article about the same thing not long ago saying that it's not as important as some make it out to be. I do Pilates so that could be making the difference.

    Again, different strokes for different folks!

  8. It's a stretch for me to get out of bed in the morning.

  9. I stretch after. I actually enjoy it because it's like winding down after a hard workout. If I'm doing strenous weights I will stretch before, but only after a 10 min warmup. I never stretch cold muscles.

  10. I mostly stretch after too. I find it very relaxing and enjoy feeling my heart rate and breathing return to normal. I also try to stretch at night time before I go to bed. I put a reminder on my phone. It doesn't happen every night but when I do it I always feel better for it and sleep better too I think! Over time I have just built up a stretching routine and do it automatically. It's not very elaborate and it doesn't take long either but I still find it effective. I see it as total me time. Something we all need a little of I think.

  11. i'm definitely a stretcher. a little bit before, but a lot after a workout.

    i have back issues too and a really good one is the cat/dog stretch. my chiropractor friend says it's like dental flossing the spine. if you want more info, let me know.

    even simple stuff makes a difference. before each workout i stand on my tiptoes and reach my arms up to the sky, i swing my arms around from the shoulder a few times in each direction, kick/shake my legs out.

    after doing cardio, i always stretch my hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, glutes,etc.

    whew! i guess i do a lot, huh?

  12. I don't know your medical history, so my advice is to maybe try an activity other than the elliptical. The repitition probobly isn't helping the chronic pain. What about a group excercise class? Maybe a spin class or other? For the stretching I would suggest a yoga based class. (I am a group ex instructor and have seen the benfits both first hand and through others from being engaged and excited about your workout.)

  13. Sooooo guilty of not stretching. I tell myself, "tomorrow, tomorrow you will stretch dearheart" but never do.

  14. Hi. I think this is a great reminder. When I was younger I could launch into an exercise regime without a second thought and never warming up. But being in my late 30s is a whole different ball game. I have to do things much more carefully. Build up much more slowly.

    Getting older is a real pain!

    Bearfriend xx


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