Slow down and stretch

Photo courtesy of Hakan Dahlstrom (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Hakan Dahlstrom (Creative Commons)

Finish and check it off the list is how I approach most things. I have a task or a goal and my primary focus is completion. I approach my work, my life and my exercise that way.

It’s great to be so targeted, but there are some drawbacks. In my exercise, it means I focus so much on running that I don’t spend enough time on stretching and strengthening. Consequently, after months of running without enough stretching, my muscles are tight. In fact, the backs of my legs have tightened up so much, it is affecting my lower back as well.

So this week, I decided to try a new plan, and spend more of my workout doing lots of slow, deliberate yoga stretches, and add more weight training and core strengthening exercises in addition to running.

I had no idea it would feel so great! For months, I realize I’ve been skimping on the stretching because it was uncomfortable, which was just making the problem worse. In fact, it felt so good to be lengthening those muscles and relaxing that tightness, I decided to do more stretches when I got home from work.

So then I realized there are other places in my life that I need to slow down and spend more time “stretching.”  How much do I rush through only to come out the other side exhausted and unfulfilled? I tend to fill my day with tasks, moving from one to the next with hardly a breath, eager to check things off the list and feel some relief from “so much to do.” And yet strangely, I never seem to find that relief.

I don’t spend enough planning and dreaming time on the front end of a project to prevent the starts and stops of changing direction midway through. Even the structure of my day doesn’t allow for downtime, until I end up just collapsing at the end of the night.

When I do take some time to read or go to the pool, there is always the idea floating in the back of my mind that there’s something else “more constructive” that I need to be doing instead.

There’s not. Letting go of the “must do’s” and giving in to the “want to’s” periodically is healthy.

I must stretch. When doing something I enjoy, such as reading, visiting with someone or listening to music, I am stretching different mental and emotional muscles that might be atrophying from lack of use!  I need to learn that stretching is good and should be done regularly. It’s not always about the “running.”

The stretching I’ve been doing has made my back feel better as well as my legs. So gotta go now – it’s time to go stretch!

In what areas of your life would more stretching be beneficial?

4 thoughts on “Slow down and stretch

    • Awesome Jon! Stretching is amazing, whether it’s for exercise or experience – I’m sorry I ignored it for so long!

  1. Try foam rolling – it works wonders on tight spots. I foam roll before and after my workouts and it doesn’t take much time and I notice much less stiffness. Good luck working this out.

    • Thank you for the reminder – I forget to use mine and I know it would help. Need to add that to the routine. thanks for stopping by!

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