Value of stretching

As I was hobbling around Friday morning after rising from bed, I realized I had missed something that I have been doing for quite a while. After each workout, I have a stretching routine I perform.

At first when I was working out last year, I would crank it out and then move on. As the day wore on, my legs started to feel like stumps. I could just never figure it out. I would eat right, exercise, and do all the things I was supposed to do but my legs were just not feeling great.

In the mornings, I would hop out of bed and barely be able to walk. My calves were ridiculously tight. As I stumbled around wondering if this is what it’s like to wear high heels, I became concerned that something was wrong.

Of course something was wrong. I just hadn’t figured out the simple solution yet.

My thought was that I was not getting enough salt in my diet. Normally, I consume enough to resalinify the ocean. No, that could not be it.

Then, finally, I asked around. Just because you’re a manly man doesn’t mean you can’t ask for directions on occasion. Lo and behold, the post workout stretch came up.

And there I was. Now, what to do about it? YouTube is a great tool. I found a mishmash of post riding, running, and general workout stretching routines. They covered all of the major leg muscle groups.

Amazingly, the next day I woke up feeling just fine. I was not bumbling around at work and feeling like I was walking through mud.

So, ever since, I have been working out and then stretching. I have felt just fine after every workout and, although I might be tired, my legs don’t kill me.

Then, for various reasons, I did not have enough time to stretch after towing the last few days. I paid the price.

The first morning after, I was a little bit sore and didn’t think about it. I had forgotten the feeling and just chalked it up to sleeping a little poorly. But yesterday morning when I woke up and really had trouble walking, I knew something had caught up.

I just couldn’t believe it. After simply missing two days of post workout stretching, I was right back to where I was. At least that was my worry. So, yesterday, I made sure to get a good stretch in while I was still warm, after both towing and mountain bike riding.

This morning – no problems walking. This has all reaffirmed that I need to make sure to stretch after every workout while I’m still warm, without exception.

Now the kicker. How do this in a tent after a long day of slogging through Antarctica? I had tested this in Yellowstone and came up with a decent solution. Although some of the stretching positions were not really workable inside the tent, I made sure to hit all the major muscle groups.

I did find that on some days, one muscle cramped up while I was pulling on the other. But, I think that was more a function of diet, fatigue, and general awkwardness getting this all done in a tent. The following morning, as I woke up bundled in my down sleeping bag, I found I had no pain in my legs at all. The stretching had paid off.

So while I am down in Antarctica, stretching will be an integral part of every day’s march. The last thing I need is to over do it and injure my Achilles. It would be a great shame to be taken out in a Greek tragedy, all because I did not take 15 minutes to properly stretch.


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