Stretching Matters: The Long and the Short of Stretching

Posted by Fourteen Peaks on

I know, I know, you’re busy enough just doing your workout without adding stretching to the mix.  Trust me, I felt the same way, once upon a time, that is.

To me, stretching seemed like a waste of time.  It was boring for a fast paced person like myself.  That is, until I learned about the importance of stretching.

I was competing in what is known as The World’s Toughest Race. 

It was an extreme endurance race in which I would climb summits of 10,000 feet upward, paddle rushing rivers and backpack over miles of the roughest terrain.  And it was all done in a 10 day, non-stop race.

stretch What little sleep my team did get was done on the rocks (literally), beneath the stars with bears lurking about. 

I really would like to say that after a short doze, I got up, stretched and went about the day’s adventure which was usually a grueling mix of kayaking, backpacking, mountain climbing and biking. 

But no, are you kidding?  I did not stretch. I didn’t have time to stretch.  If there wasn’t time to sleep or eat, there wasn’t time to stretch.

That was my first real experience in a good life lesson about the importance of stretching.  Somewhere in those the ten days, I pulled my groin.  Have you ever climbed a mountain with a pulled hamstring?  Or ridden a hundred miles with one?  Well, I have. 

Did I finish?  Of course I finished.  I am not a quitter.  But did I finish in the top or anywhere close to it?  No.  And as a matter of fact, my team got a standing ovation just for crossing the finish line at all.

 The moral of the story is that…you simply MUST stretch.  If you don’t, you run a big risk of being sidelined.  Or, maybe like me, you will find it in your willpower to finish but it won’t be anywhere close to the top of your game.  Take it from me.  Fortunately, I got to race again.  In fact, I raced twice after that. 

Before you even stretch, you want to warm your muscles up.  Warm muscles stretch better just like when you cook a noodle.  When your muscles are warmed up, you can stretch them out to an elongated position so you can perform better in your main work-out, sports event or performance. 

Because your muscles will be longer and more flexible, you have much less risk of injury and they will work much better for you, meaning you can perform at your peak.

Stretch Bands give you the extra edge when it comes to stretching.  They work off resistance so your body is able to stretch further and better.

Ballerinas know the importance of stretching.  Contemporary Dancers, Gymnasts, Cheerleaders, Football Players, Runners and even Extreme Adventure Racers, they all know that stretching keeps them in the game and not on the sidelines.

Whatever your, ballet, biking, hiking or just working out, be sure to stretch yourself before you wreck yourself because…stretching matters.

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