Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stretch and Be Stretched

A few weeks ago I was hit with some chronic back pain. It didn't matter how I moved; it was all bad. After growing increasingly impatient and distracted by the whole matter I visited my family doctor, who promptly diagnosed me with "tight as hell" hamstrings and sent me to physical therapy for a few sessions.

The sessions with enlightening and more educational than painful. I learned that I've basically never stretched my hamstrings in a proper manner, and the impact this had taken on my back. The therapists showed me several new techniques for strengthening my "core," both my back and abdominal region, including ways to be intentional about stretching while sitting at a desk in front of a computer (not that I ever sit in front of a computer, of course.)

A few weeks later, I'm not fully free of the stiffness I feel in my back when I first wake up...but I am free of the pain. I am embracing a "stretch lifestyle," and am grateful that I have the opportunity to be proactive about an aspect of my health that can serve as an impediment to almost anything else if left unchecked.

The physical therapists were professionals who helped stretch me and taught me how to stretch myself from a physiological standpoint. I also have appreciated lots of individuals, both at close range and through books or talks, who have helped to stretch me in professional, spiritual and emotional ways.

I have learned that I am never as supple or flexible as I could be, and am always in need of a good stretch. I need to keep my muscles warm and ready for the game, for there are no time-outs. My goal is to keep people in my life who constantly stretch me, and who hopefully are stretched by me as well. They could be family members, friends, colleagues, bosses, mentors, coaches, clients or "former" strangers. The key is to be stretched by someone, and hopefully maintain proper form while doing so.

Who stretches you? Are you feeling any tightness right now that is hindering your reach?

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At 2:25 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

Fantastic post! I just finished reading Craig Williamson's Muscular Retraining for Pain-Free Living. It is one of the best books I've read on the topic and the exercises are amazing. His whole argument is based on what he calls "kinisthetic awareness." He also talks about achieving homeostasis: "In a fundamental way, the psychological or mental state of homeostasis comes about by living with your attention in the present, rather than the past or future."(110). I think that the mental stretching you are talking about is absolutely essential for living in the present. Otherwise we live in a stagnant present and act and react accordingly.


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