On Not Stretching

No one told me to stretch.  I didn’t know that my muscles were tired and my joints were creaky and the lactic acid stayed.  In fact, until our first lab class, I didn’t even know what lactic acid was!  After the fitness test, I was in pretty bad shape.  My legs were all jell-o, my face was red, and my knees were actually wobbly.  At one point, I wanted to fall!  My body was not ready for such strenuous action.  Afterwards, I went about my life as though I did not just do the most physical activity I have ever done in my life.

This was a terrible decision.  The next day, I could hardly get out of bed, let alone go down the three stairs of the stoop outside of East Quad.  Every single side of my leg was sore.  I couldn’t move without making small yelp sounds and complaints to everyone around me.  At one point, I even bad-mouthed the class!  Later, I realized the only person to bad-mouth was myself.  Because I never exercised or did sports, I did not know the very elementary rule of physical activity: To Stretch!

The first place I stretched was Target.  A friend and I parked near the shopping cart carrel outside, which was a decent fifteen cars away from the front entrance.  When I got out of my seat, instantly I felt even more pain in my thighs, calves, knee joints, and hips.  After my first step, it got worse.  By the time we were picking up a shopping cart, I knew I needed to do something.  I stopped and turned to my friend with a pained expression and a desperate look in my eye.  He asked me, “Have you stretched out yet?”

I stretched right then and there.  I stretched my quads, my calves, my hips, my arms, my back, and my ankles.  I used the handle bar of the cart to help me balance, and lifted my foot behind to my butt to stretch my quads.  It was painful, but the pain was good.  After the second time stretching each leg, the pain was less intense.  I couldn’t believe it.  Now I know: stretching is the best way to recover from a work out.  In fact, I’m doing the Butterfly Stretch right now as I’m typing this!

Butterfly Stretch

Butterfly Stretch Cute

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5 Responses to On Not Stretching

  1. striva says:

    Hey everyone, thank you all so much for such nice feedback and support! I have been stretching every day and my body has been feeling great!

  2. snowcts14 snowcts14 says:

    Much like you I was never really taught the meaning of stretching. I often would start my workouts and practices without even so much as a warm-up. Unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way after dislocating both of my knees a total of four times in one season! Since then I stretch my entire body and especially my knees before and after anything physical. So luckily you were able to learn this important lesson a lot easier than I was able to!

  3. Paleogirl Paleogirl says:

    I especially enjoyed this post because I felt much the same way after finishing the fitness test. I’m sure all of my friends were so tired of hearing me groan every time I moved an inch the next few days! I grew up as a dancer though, and stretching was an integral part of our day so to me. Without stretching, we wouldn’t have become any more flexible and would have been sore for ages, so stretching is just part of the package for us. It is interesting to hear how stretching wasn’t really ever something you were taught to do after or during exercise. I suppose each of our individual histories really do shape what we see as necessary and not, and I am very glad you have begun to implement this very important aspect of physical activity!

  4. froglady froglady says:

    Indeed we take stretching for granted. I hope you’re more comfortable by now! I start and end my day with a little stretching and feel a little more limber these days.

  5. It was really interesting for me to read this. Everyone in my family, including both my parents, is an athlete and for my entire life I’ve always been on multiple sports teams depending on the season. I completely take for granted most of the things I was brought up doing, and forget that not everyone has the same background.
    It’s amazing to hear about other people’s experiences who have a completely different take on it. It was awesome to read how you figured out how the importance of stretching so soon!

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