Thirty days of stretching

I injured myself almost a year ago. I used very poor form to lift something heavy. My back was a bit sore the next day and the day after that. I took it easy and went back to my normal routine a few days later. A couple weeks after that I reached down to pick something up and noticed a shooting pain in my leg. Four hours later I could either stand up or lie flat and anything in between was excruciating. My upper right leg was quite numb. The diagnosis was two pinched nerves.

Rest, physio, dry needling, and a regimen of stretching helped me recover. I got back to the point where there was numbness but no pain. I don’t lift heavy things now. The gym is about lots of lighter reps with good form rather than aiming for PRs.

After a while stretching fell by the wayside. I’ve always been pretty lazy when it comes to post-workout care and some months ago I realised the lack of stretching was contributing to a plateau in my recovery from my injury. When I committed to lifeguard training I decided to get more serious about stretching.

In started going to some Sunday yoga classes at my gym and enjoyed them. Then I subscribed to ROMWOD, a daily yoga-like routine aimed squarely at people who do Crossfit. There’s a bajillion free yin yoga videos on YouTube that I could have gone with but paying for ROMWOD gives me some encouragement to do it regularly.

Until just over a month ago I was doing a ROMWOD routine a couple times a week. Better than before but not a habit and not enough to really get good results. Not worth the subscription either! Then a post from Austin Kleon’s archive about keeping a Seinfeld calendar struck a chord. I decided to make stretching a habit.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

Jerry Seinfeld

I drew up a thirty day grid in my brain dump notebook and committed to doing a ROMWOD routine every day. I’d mark an X in the grid whenever I completed a routine. I wrote DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN at the top.

Thirty days later, I’d done a routine every day, the chain unbroken. I saw some results: more feeling in my leg; more flexibility in my arms and shoulders; less soreness. Stretching, along with swimming, and drinking water has paid dividends.

Keeping up the chain was difficult. I got sick twice and the congestion and headaches weren’t super conducive to yoga moves. I did the shorter workouts on some of those days. I had to plan around a night away: an early morning routine one day followed by a late one the next.

Crossing off the grid every day was very satisfying. And I genuinely think the stretching helps. It’s a habit now and I look forward to getting out my mat a blocks and stretching as Daniel Head’s baritone encourages me along.

What happens when you drink a gallon of water a day?

Aleta Burchyski from Outside Magazine took up the Water Gallon Challenge and was feeling great in a matter of days. She got used to the other side effects pretty quickly, too.

Day 1: I’m peeing every 15 minutes. How in the hell am I supposed to get anything done?
Day 4: I didn’t feel like a 70-year-old woman when I got out of bed this morning.
Day 7: Can we talk about how good I am at yoga right now?

Partially inspired by this article, and in an attempt to improve fitness for life guarding training, I’ve consciously upped my water intake to around 3L per day over the last couple of months. That’s not quite a gallon, I’d get caught in an endless cycle of drinking and piddling. I definitely feel much better when I remember to drink. I notice being thirsty more than I did before. I feel less sore after the gym and I find it easier to keep up my stretching routine as it’s not the pain-fest it used to be.

Drink water, readers. That’s a solid gold tip.