written by john c ashworth
People still come to me for fitness advice and conversation. I’m a full-time salesman and marketing maniac now, but for the first twenty-plus years of my career, I was a clinical exercise physiologist, personal trainer, health coach and fitness expert. Before that, I was an all-american soccer player and high-level athlete. I have a little experience with this stuff. Today, I call myself a bohemian athlete.
Many of us experience back pain in a variety of formats. Especially right now as I’m writing this, and we are sequestered in our homes in the fight to stop the spread of covid-19, we are spending a lot of time sitting and being sedentary. More than usual. When we do this, our bodies not only get tight, but our chakras get locked-up and energy stops flowing freely.
You can probably feel it right now. Some area of your body that is bothering you in some way. Your back. Your neck. Your Shoulder girdle. Your hips. Your knees. You pick the spot and it’s OK to choose more than one 🙂
For me this morning, it’s some of the usual stuff I feel when I haven’t been able to get to the pool often enough. Along with a new thing I’ve been nursing along in my neck and right shoulder. All of which is manageable if I choose to stretch enough throughout the day, instead of ignoring it and spending a lot of excess mental energy trying to work through it and hope it goes away. Hope is NOT a strategy.
I’ve got news for you…it’s probably not going to go away unless you choose to do something about it. And one of the most transformative actions you can take on a daily basis is to stretch your hamstrings. In years of training people and working with them on their fitness, this axiom held true over and over again. Almost everyone experiences back pain and for many of us there is a simple solution. Stretch your hamstrings. YES! I’m also saying that you should stretch more often in general, but I also know from years of working with people in this way, that this blanket recommendation will do almost nothing to change your behavior and get you to take action. But if I say instead, “Just spend 5 minutes three times a day stretching your hamstrings.” Well, now that seems more doable, doesn’t it? And the reason I almost always start with this is twofold…
First, you will almost certainly be amazed at how this transforms not just your back pain but your body’t energy flow and your mental state every day. It really can have a meaningful impact in a very short amount of time and very often, almost immediately.
Second, if you can’t even implement this one simple strategy that takes just 15 minutes a day, then you’re not ready or willing to adopt the mindset of the bohemian athlete and I’m not willing to waste any more of my time with you.
OK, go! And if you want, feel free to report back to me here or on facebook with the results.
PS When I turned 30, my body was beginning to seize-up as a result of years of abuse on the soccer field. That was when I discovered yoga and the cathartic and transformative effects of regular stretching. Call it yoga or stretching or whatever you want. Call it old school calisthenics if you have to. Just start doing it. Your 5-minute sessions alone might be enough. And once you begin to experience the benefits of this ritual, you’ll likely find just like I did that you will desire more and more.