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Stay committed to your decisions and flexible to your approach

January 06, 2014 3 min read

Who needs stretching? I mean what is the worst that can happen?  Nothing…….. for a while anyway.... We train, we get stronger, we improve our diet a bit and we look and feel better. Who needs to stretch? Stretching is slow and boring and it is for yogis, gymnasts or old people (or so we think)…. Then one day you wake up a slight pain in your lower back or calf….Nothing to be concerned about ….  Just a small limp or hitch in your day. You naturally try to stretch out the problem area and it helps a little so you forget about it. Back to training that day like nothing ever happened. Everyone is complementing you on your form, how great your body looks, you feel unstoppable, nothing is going to bring you down. Suddenly that problem area is not just a walk in the park it is a run through mud, it slows you down in not just training but all areas of your life.  You find it hard to get out of bed in the morning and do your regular activities let alone train….What happened? You may be thinking injury is a part of life, training and sport but contrary to this belief it can be avoided. Everything always seems good, until it is not. And it’s understandable because mobility work is about as exciting as 100th rerun of Bob the Builder with your little one (can we fix it, yes we can). But, the bottom line is, if you want to stay pain- and injury-free, having a strong body is only part of that battle. Having a mobile body is also essential. So how do we add mobility training to our routine… take a yoga class once a week…..I know you think yoga is only for the free flowing people who are so flexible they can touch their toes whilst bending over backwards…However trust me it is worth it.  An hour per week will make the difference between being able to train consistently or being able to train and every so often pulling up sore with some type of injury. If adding another workout is too much time to add to your schedule try mobility/flexibility intervals, which means using your recovery between sets as a time to stretch three of the tightest areas of your body or stretch the areas of your body you are currently training with.  This helps break up your flexibility/mobility training  into small achievable steps.and you are still getting adequate recovery while not adding any additional time to your weeks schedule to include flexibility/mobility training. For example if you are doing a running session with intervals…say 1, 2, 3, 4 minutes sprints x 5 and 1 minute recovery between; use the 1 minute recovery and choose to stretch your hamstrings, quads, back and calves. This solution for mobility work is however the absolute minimum but in order to stay pain-free and continue your progress towards training success, you need to address your mobility and this is a great start. Think of stretching being like your PC backup.  You know you must do it but it is easy to put it to the side. But the train and pray strategy is risky.  Unlike your computer you have no auto save and when you skip out on the stretching you risk losing your range of movement and stability. From personal experience I found with stretching, it feels like the body fights flexibility increases for the first few weeks. Then, between weeks 4 to 6, the body stops resisting and starts to flow and bend like the willow trees in the wind. So, if you've tried stretching before and didn't see results, hang in there. Stretching provides many wonderful benefits, even for the "naturally tight" .  

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