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Why Stretching Should Be An Essential Part Of Your Workout Routine


Over forty woman showing stretching routine

While I've had a consistent workout routine for over a decade now, it hasn't been without its challenges. It's taken hard work, consistency, and constantly learning about what does and does not work for my body. One of those hard lessons I learned was about stretching. In the beginning, I wasn't good with warming my body up or cooling it down when working out. I would do a little bit here and there, but not like I should have. It wasn't until I had constant back issues, and in the desperate search for a solution, that I realized proper stretching was key to my health.

 


Over 40 woman sharing stretches to open hip flexors and hamstrings

I pinched a nerve in my back about 15 years ago, and about every year or every other year (sometimes multiple times a year) my back would “go out.” When I was having an issue, it impacted my mobility terribly and the pain was unbearable. I tried physical therapy and steroid medication, and I had an MRI which showed nothing but a healthy back. On one hand I was glad there was nothing serious found, because maybe that meant I wouldn't have to deal with this issue for the rest of my life. But, on the other hand, I was frustrated because there seemed to be no answers for all the trouble I was having.

 


Over 4 woman showing simple stretches for daily use

When my last back episode occurred in 2016, I found myself unable to walk properly for about a month. It was bad. Once I was in a better position, I decided to take a deep dive on my own, and after a lot of Googling, my research kept mentioning tight hip flexors and hamstrings being linked to back pain. From that point on I started focusing on properly warming up and cooling down when exercising.  I was exercising daily, but not doing either of the other things properly, and that's when something clicked for me that this might be the problem.


Over 40 woman sharing stretches she uses daily

Stretching my body meant taking my time, and I found several stretches I could work on daily (sometimes twice a day) to open up my hip flexors and stretch my hamstrings. Over time, I would stay in a stretch for about 1 to 2 minutes. It really started to work because I had no more incidents until July 2023. To be honest, I can't even begin to tell you why it happened, but it happened while working out. I was so distraught and disappointed. I couldn't believe it had been seven years without any setbacks, but this recovery wasn't as long though it was extremely painful.

 

I guess the reality is this will be a lifelong process, as it should be. I've heard people say stretching is the key to the fountain of youth and I believe them. The goal is to maintain good mobility as I age, and prayerfully no more back episodes. I now stretch no less than 10 minutes a day and I'd like to do even more. I would absolutely encourage you to add stretching into your daily routine whether you exercise or not. Aging gracefully requires a lot of effort on our part, but with a good and consistent diet, workout routine, and proper stretching, it can be done

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