Jeeze, has it been 11 days since I last posted something here?
You’re going to assume, of course, that I’ve also been derelict in my fitness regimen and simply didn’t want to pen one more pathetic post about how hard it’s been to get to the gym. But, no! I’ve been keeping up rather nicely with my workout schedule. Three days last week — cardio, resistance, yada yada yada — and Monday and Thursday this week (Wild game on Wednesday derailed my plans: beer, not better-fication).
Anyway, today I actually did some stretching — a little pretend yoga after my normal meditation session (surprise, surprise: I’ve had a Vipassana meditation practice for the past 10 years), which got me sweating and yearning for more flexible hamstrings, especially). It got me thinking about the whole flexibility thing and the “functional fitness” approach to keeping limber in my middle age.
As Fernando Pages Ruiz explains in this EL story from July/August 2002, an aging body like mine stiffens with age because it’s lost a good deal of its moisture content and is more prone to cellular micro-injuries that leave layers of scar tissue that further restrict movement. A regular stretching routine, he points out, stimulates the production of tissue lubricants and helps muscles rebuild themselves with a healthier cell structure.
There’s really no right way to stretch, of course — which is of great comfort to this geezer, who can’t actually touch his toes without curling up in a fetal position. (This morning, however, I was able to touch the floor without bending my knees — with my feet spread out just about as far as they would go. Whoo-Hoo!)
The key, as I understand it, is simply to extend your muscles gradually beyond their point of comfort. When I do this, it feels pretty good, though it takes a surprising amount of effort to get there.
Monday I’ll get another opportunity to practice what Ruiz preaches.