Updated: Jan 5
Why do I do this to myself?
If you’re close to me, you’ll know I got my splits a few months ago. I decided to stretch (almost) every night for about a month, and I finally got the results I’ve been craving for years. Of course, because I’m so diligent and committed, I stopped stretching regularly almost as soon as I got my splits. School, socializing, and other excuses took over.
Since I decided to jump rope/run every day for a week during quarantine, I decided to stretch every day for a week.
One of the best decisions I’ve made. Also one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. The moments I’ve had while stretching are so frustrating and also so incredibly relaxing. Maybe it’s just me thing, but the feeling of letting yourself go, the feeling of letting your muscles relax as you listen to music is sooo therapeutic. Frustrating at times, but therapeutic.
PLEASE NOTE: I’ve been stretching regularly for several years. Though I’ve rarely stretched every night, I’ve stretched enough to know the proper form to avoid injury. I’ll be coming up with a stretch routine if that’s something you're interested in--otherwise, please exert caution before trying to stretch for the splits!
Here’s what happened:
1. Developed another habit… for better or for worse.
The guilt I felt when I didn’t stretch was enough to keep me going. I’d get a poor night’s sleep, attribute that to my failure to stretch the night before, and feel frustrated the rest of the day. My frustration probably contributed to the gratification I felt when I DID stretch. By the end of the week, it became another habit I developed… now I have to stretch, at least for five minutes, in order to feel like I’ll get a good night’s rest. Oh well!
2. Increased Self-confidence
Stretching made me feel so proud of myself, like I was finally on my way to becoming the flexible dancer I want to be. Yes, it felt uncomfortable at times, but breathing through it and not giving up made me feel like I could do anything. Who knew?
3. Better dancing + exercise
It’s no secret that stretching every night has its benefits. What I didn’t expect? Better results after exercise. My endurance improved, along with my muscle strength--I wasn’t getting so sore after workouts as I normally did. My dancing improved (of course), and I was able to move more freely. All because of one week of diligence! Maybe it’s because I was actually taking care of my body?
So yes, stretching is uncomfortable, but only if you limit yourself to that belief. If you breathe, focus on the music or your distraction of choice, I promise you:
It’s not as scary as it sounds.
Stretching became a way for me to let go of the day’s worries, a way for me to listen to my body and work with its needs…it was incredibly relaxing and enlightening. Overall? 11/10 recommend. As long as you don’t feel any sharp pain, you’re doing it right.
I challenge you to step into discomfort during this quarantine. Good luck!