At 40 years old, lots of things make me feel old. (Or at least old-ish.) Having a kid going into middle school next year. Being able to say I’ve had a t-shirt for more than 20 years. And having chronic neck and back pain. So I trudge to the chiropractor once a week—down from three times a week—and see a massage therapist once a month. At every appointment, they ask if I’ve been stretching. And every week my answer is, “Nope.”
But I’ve decided that I can no longer expect all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men to put me back together again. I hate to call it a New Year’s resolution, but … I have resolved to incorporate stretching into my exercise routine.
My massage therapist and chiropractor have given me specific stretches to do, but I have vowed to include full-body stretching into my exercise routine. My go-to program—when I’m being good—is X-Stretch, from Tony Horton’s P90X workout. My goal is to work it into my routine at least weekly. So what’s been stopping me? It’s hard to take 55 minutes to do something just for me. Somehow it seems easier to drive to the chiropractor, wait in her office, get adjusted, do physical therapy and drive home.
I really need to focus on the results. Studies have had mixed results, but stretching is believed to:
- increase flexibility
- increase blood flow to muscles
- help with range of motion
- decrease injuries
- improve athletic performance (mainly through decreased injuries)
Although X-Stretch focuses on my problem areas—neck, shoulders and hamstrings—it gives a good full-body stretch. During the 90 days of P90X, X-Stretch is designed for recovery weeks. X-Stretch can be substituted for Yoga X, but you may be doing yourself a disservice if you cut yoga out of your routine. Where X-Stretch works on flexibility, Yoga X works on strength, balance, flexibility and breathing.
After doing X-Stretch, I feel great. If I did it consistently, I might even be able to stop those weekly visits to the chiropractor.
For more lower body stretching, check out P90X One on One with Tony Horton’s Stretch & Recovery (in volume 3).