Living down here on Alki I see all sorts of runners and walkers going by, occasionally they stop and stretch.
The normal, violent stretching that we were all told was beneficial to us.
I recall our track workouts in high school, over 30 years ago. Before we could run, the coach made us go through a half-hour or more of painful pre-workout stretching. All the while telling us that this would help us run better...blah, blah...
One of the things that Feldenkrais Teachers learn to understand is the futility and harm that stretching can cause.
What are we after when we stretch?
We want our leg muscles to lengthen, yes?
Well, I can teach anyone in less than a minute a simple, painless way of lengthening their muscles without stretching.
Massage therapists may remember a concept known as reciprocal inhibition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocal_inhibition when they were going through their training. The firing of the antagonist muscles will reflexibly lengthen their protagonists. Ie...if you want to lengthen your hamstrings you fire your quadricep muscles.
If you think I'm stretchin the truth, the following article looks at stretching from a different direction:
Yes, stretching may feel good. But it's similar to scratching an itch. The more you do it, the more damage you do, the more you crave it...ad infinitum.
There is such a thing as beneficial stretching, done with awareness. Paying attention to where your support is from the ground while slowly moving in a stretching direction, and with much less range.
The best performances come when one is aware of what they're doing with their bodies while in the act. The best way of prepping for this, of course, is during training and not the actual performance.
Becoming aware of our habitual nature is a continual learning experience, and can be started at any time, at any age.
The next time you're running, walking, skating, biking, etc. down on Alki, stop by and I can show you a more efficient, less painful way of getting your muscles ready for potent action.
To learn more about becoming more potent in your actions and thoughts:
Weekly Awareness through Movement® classes are being held on:
At: West Seattle Wellness
For more on the Feldenkrais method:
Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher®