I have been lifting for around 12 years, and personal training for 2.5 years in that time. Stretching, to me was only something we did before soccer games, or track meets. It was touching your toes to stretch the hamstring, bending one leg backwards to stretch the quad, etc. Did I really understand why I was doing this? To keep from pulling a muscle, I was told. It’s amazing the difference in understanding and appreciation when someone else is telling you to do something, perhaps based on their own experience (in this case, stretching) and you actually having an experience of your own, “learning the hard way” they call it. I never actually understood the importance of stretching, especially before a workout, until I “learned the hard way.”
Who stretches before lifting?! I mean, we lift so people can see our muscles, right? You can’t see if someone stretches just by looking at them. These were the thoughts that constantly ran through my head, reassuring me I didn’t need to stretch. It didn’t keep me from gaining more muscle, I didn’t feel any pain. Well, until I did. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was barbell deadlifting at the gym. The weight I was using I had done before, many times. Apparently this time, my body said “enough.” During a repetition I felt a slight pinch in my lower back, nothing crazy, but enough for me to stop deadlifting for the day. I continued my leg routine, but the pain was slowly getting worse and worse. If there is one thing I hate, it is not being able to finish a workout. So to say the pain caused me to stop working out should give you an indicator that it was kind of serious. Finally, the pain came to its worst when later in the day I attempted to sit on the toilet and just fell right off. I was stuck in the bathroom, on my hands and knees like a helpless child, unable to move (my father also had a similar experience once while we were at the beach). It was after this day, that I learned the importance of stretching.
You can find more about the RIGHT type of stretching on my ‘Stretching’ page under ‘The Body’ tab.