Learning to Respect the Importance of Stretching — The Hard Way (A Nexerciser’s Story)

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A week and a half ago my back seized up, and I began the painful process of regaining my ability to stand and walk. The muscle relaxers and pain medication my doctor prescribed served to diminish my pain somewhat, but didn’t help me regain mobility. In the past, after an illness or injury, I would have stopped exercising for months. Instead, I trolled the Nexercise lists wondering if there was anything I could do. When I saw the stretching option, I remembered that I had downloaded a “Stretch Away Low Back Pain” app. These stretches enabled me to get to a medical masseuse who helped me regain my ability to walk.

Like Anna Louise, I’m also celebrating a 360-day Nexercise streak. A year ago my goal was to get more exercise than I was getting. I never dreamed that I would feel motivated to exercise virtually everyday for a year! Although the majority of my Nexercise sessions have been walking workouts, I’ve enjoyed finding ways to add strength and flexibility workouts.

I wish I had known before what I know now — that proper alignment along with moving and stretching all muscles is essential. Working at the computer and sitting for long periods changes our bodies at least as much, if not more, than our exercise routines do. My calf muscles, psoas, rhomboid and infraspinatus muscles were tightening and pulling me out of alignment. This in turn resulted in a debilitating spasm.

Now, as I continue to recover, I’m careful to listen to my body and stop if I feel any discomfort. From the Stretch Away apps and Katy Bowman’s “Aligned and Well” DVDs I am also learning stretches that I can do frequently, throughout the day, to balance the muscles I’m developing with exercise and tightening during long hours of computer work.

I’ve gained a new respect for stretching. Although it isn’t a strenuous form of exercise, it makes it possible to keep moving.

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