I know I haven't posted much lately despite my promises to bore you to tears about marathon training, but I've been feeling stretched a little thin with my new career heating up. It's almost all awesome, but it's a lot of work and I'm still adjusting! Rest assured, though, that I'm still finding time to work out and get myself ready for the months of hard work that will lead up to the Marine Corps Marathon. And as I've mentioned previously, I'm focusing a lot of time on learning how to recover, which recently has started including a much more robust stretching routine - not something I've been very good about historically, but something that has proven itself to be a gaping hole in my fitness.
As is usually a good idea while learning a new skill, I decided to find a learned teacher to help me develop a reliable and thorough stretching routine. What I ended up finding was a DVD program that relies on the use of a stretching strap (such as a yoga strap or looped stretch strap) to hold positions and increase supported range of motion for a deeper stretch. The DanceCrazy Ultra Stretching Strap DVD has become my best friend in developing a program that will get the results I need to improve my running.
Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed herein are, as always, my own.
The DVD content is straightforward: the trainer walks you through the exercises and stretches as she demonstrates, calling out tips and body cues to help you fully understand the full mechanics behind the motions. It's all very focused, with the room being empty except for the trainer and her exercise mat, making it easy to stay attentive without random distractions, and her diction and directions are very clear. While the menus seem a little piecey, it's clear that a lot of time and care was put into the production, and that the true purpose of the DVD is the 45 minute stretching routine itself.
For the first few viewings, I simply played the full workout straight through, following the sensible progression of exercises (including a nice little warmup). I barely noticed the first time, but my body noticed afterwards, that the DVD only covers ONE side of the body! While the stretches are well-explained and clearly demonstrated, the trainer does not switch sides to provide a balanced session. I had to start pausing after each exercise to perform the moves on the other side before moving forward. This effectively doubles the 45 minute full workout, making it a bit cumbersome to fit into a busy schedule!
More often after my early viewings, I have started using the "chapter select" option that allows me to skip to a particular exercise. Eventually, I'm sure I'll know these moves well enough to not need the DVD, but for now I still rely heavily on her cues and positioning reminders to properly execute most of the stretches for maximum effect. Some of the positions are too difficult for me at my current level of flexibility (and I'm not just talking about the two moves that are labeled "advanced"), but the trainer is clearly incredibly flexible and perhaps forgot that some viewers might not be so bendy! There are no modifications offered for less flexible people who are building up to a better range of motion. I do the best I can, but there are going to be a few that will remain out of reach for a while!
I may never have the range of motion I'd like to have, but there's no reason I can't develop some better habits and improve as much as possible! As I learn more about how to stretch and slowly increase my range, I'm sure I'll see improvements in other aspects of my life as well. Every bit of progress will ripple out, and that's definitely worth sticking to a routine and building knowledge. Not to mention that proper flexibility and post-run recovery stretching will decrease my chances of injury by a large margin, and who can complain about that?! I'm glad I'm finally starting to understand the importance of stretching before my sad range of motion gets any smaller...
Do you have a go-to stretching routine? What types of props or other gear do you use to increase your range of motion and flexibility?