The Slice: Stretching is an important practice for those of us who are getting older (yes, that means all of us). It reduces aches and pains while creating a sense of calm. Now get stretching! I answer the question “What’s the best way to stretch?”
The Challenge: Stretch every morning and evening for a week in an effort to (finally) touch my toes.
You’ve probably already gathered this, but I can’t touch my toes. I can’t remember the last time I could. I have a picture of myself as a baby with my foot in my mouth, so I’m sure I could at one point, but I lost the skill sometime before middle school. I distinctly remember trying to touch my toes during the sit-up portion of the Presidential Fitness Test in 6th grade. I couldn’t (well, at least I don’t have these kinds of horror stories). So… this week I tried to gain back some of the glory of my infant self and challenged myself to touch my mother f*&!ing toes already!
Where to Begin
I decided to stretch for 10 minutes each morning and 10 minutes each evening, which seems to be the suggested standard (it comes to about 30 seconds/stretch). I met with Johnny Asuncion, a yoga instructor who specializes in stretching poses and teaches classes at my office. He recommended a few poses and “encouraged” me by reminding me that holding a pose through the pain will give you a deeper stretch (good pain, not pain that could result in injury). Thanks, Johnny. The pose he suggests over any other is this spinal twist. I used this article to learn what other stretches I could be doing.
I’m so far from touching my toes it’s almost an embarrassment to post, but there you have it. Stretching this morning actually physically hurts. I have a tight neck can’t even get my chin to my chest. But it feels good to start the morning with a stretch
Same as above. My stretch in the evening is easier than the morning because I’ve had a chance to move around, but both times I feel like I’m working more than most people should have to.
I am starting to get into a routine, but I actually decided to mix it up today. My USC professor invited two fitness experts to class last night. I spoke with one of them, Amanda Russell, a former professional runner-turned YouTube star and brand strategist. She told me that she recommends “dynamic stretching,” meaning that you are moving through the stretches in constant movement, rather than staying static in the pose. I try it this morning and wow, what a difference. I can feel my muscles loosening as a stretch and I can stretch my spine just that little bit further each time. I’ll be following this video from now on.
I realize this morning that I don’t ache in the way I did on day one. My neck doesn’t feel like it needs to pop in order to touch my chin to my chest. I feel calm when I stretch in the morning. It gives me an opportunity to relax and prepare for the day. It’s almost zen.
The moment of truth. I choose to measure the distance from my hands to my toes after my evening workout to stay consistent with Day 1. Slowly, I lean over with the ruler in my hand, my boyfriend, Mike, ready with the camera. He snaps the shot and I get a glimpse at the number: 4 inches. That’s a 2.5 inch improvement over my starting distance! I didn’t touch my toes in a week, but I’m ⅓ of the way to the finish line!
What I learned
Stretching is easy. It doesn’t take much time. It can completely change your day. Do it! #Reach4theToes! I know I’ll keep trying to reach mine.
Julia Hubner is YDA’s body contributor. She is one step closer to touching her toes and plans to keep stretching until she can.