September 15, 2010

Fitness Must Include Flexibility...or so I'm learning

Back in May, I suffered an acute knee injury and spent the next two months in rehab. Although I mended faster than was predicted, since then, I have enjoyed two more injuries that have left me on the floor asking "why me?" I mean, since I was 20 I have been exercising and there are many people who lead sedentary lives without one injury to speak of (at least that what I believe in my moment of "poor me").

Yesterday was the worst. I went to my physio and was informed most of my muscles were inflexible. I was on the massage table when my massage therapist told me that it was a good thing I am stretching now because I am a mess. At that point, tears were trickling down my smooshed cheeks while my face was wedged in that little pillowy circle thing. I stretch for 30 minutes a day (on average)...why am I so injured and so screwed up?  Could it be 20 years of extreme exercise without much attention to flexibility training? Nah.......

Allow me to serve as a cautionary tale.  Those of you (my one reader) who are exercising (walking, running, cycling, stair climbing, swimming, whatever...) DON'T FORGET TO STRETCH! And I'm not talking holding a little stretch for 6 seconds either and rushing to the change room. STRETCH. Seriously, I'm not acting as a health promoter or fitness leader when I say this. My pain is daily now and I cannot remember a day without it. I can't move without feeling like I'm 90 years old (no offense to those who are 90) and all I want now is a body that can move easily without discomfort. I want to run, bike, walk without pain. I could care less about how much I weigh or what I look like at this point (interesting turn of events I should note).

So I am now working with my physio and massage therapist twice a week with the goal of being pain free by the spring so I can run and bike and walk without pain. I am now stretching in the morning, afternoon, and evening and even considering going into the pool (I HATE the pool). I am holding each stretch for 30 seconds and doing two sets of each. I'm following the advice of my health practitioners to the letter and trying to keep my spirits (and hope) up. I realize that my problems are nothing compared to some. I still have legs and arms. I can still get up in the morning and go to work. But relatively speaking, I have enjoyed a life of fitness and movement and now I can't teach fitness classes (one of my passions) and I can't ride outdoors (another of my passions). So, at this moment, I'm kinda feeling sorry for my self (it will pass).

To summarize, I just want to end by underlining the importance of flexibility in any training program. What you do today will benefit you tomorrow. If you are starting to have reoccurring pain in a joint or your back, see a physiotherapist immediately to get their feedback on your alignment, range of motion, and the like. The good physios are going to send you home with a series of exercises to help correct imbalances. While it may take a chunk out of your paycheck, it is your health and if you don't have have nothing!


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