How often have you felt your hips tighten while skinning and told yourself that you will take up stretching? I know I have, too many times to count, and that is exactly how many times I have proceeded to do nothing after the thought. “Yeah, yeah — I’ll do it in the morning or right before bed. No, now I am too tired. Maybe tomorrow. “
I’ve tried to get on a good stretching routine for a few years now, and before this spring had yet to succeed. I maintained a somewhat consistent streak during my rehabilitation after my ACL surgery but then failed to make it a part of my exercise regimen. These days, recovery mainly consists of eating lots of food and drowning into the couch. When the quarantine season started, I decided it was finally the year to try to break the streak of the lack of stretching in my life.
The truth is, I have found it hard to find the time for this activity in my day to day. Partly, I find stretching kind of boring and my lack of patience actually gets in the way of it being beneficial. Sitting in one place for more than 30 seconds is easy to talk about, but harder to commit to. I discovered that personally the best way to create an incentive for myself to stick with stretching would be an action-reward system. What I mean by that is: if I got it done, something beneficial had to come out of it.
— If I would go to watch TV, I had to stretch for at least 5 minutes
— I’d throw a stretch or two in before eating that extra cookie or picking up takeout
— I try to step away from work for 5 minutes to stretch at least once a day
After a few months of doing this regularly, here is my list of basic but miraculously helpful stretches. I found even if I did one of these a day for 5 minutes, after a week I started noticing a positive difference in my body and mind. The list I outline below came together over the past couple of years of keeping track of what has helped my body recover and recommendations from various Physical Therapists.
There are lots of great resources on the internet to find photos and videos for these. I’ve included links that I have found helpful and that provide a progression you can follow, if desired. I mainly focused on lower back, hip, hamstring and IT band, as those are muscles where I usually feel the most soreness after activity. If you are not sure how to get started on your own or have concerns about how stretching may impact past injuries, I recommend getting a session with a local physical therapist or personal trainer to help create a plan that would work for you.
As days are getting shorter and nights are beginning to get colder, I am excited to see how my stretching routine will impact how my body will feel this coming season.
In the past few months, I have stretched more than I have in years and my body feels incredible. Who knew that stretching is this life changing? Well…I did know, yet somehow I still never could find motivation to do it. I urge you to give it a try and report back on your findings! Are there any stretches you love or discovered that you love? Please share those in the discussion, because keeping our bodies happy and healthy only makes recreating in the backcountry more fun.
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