I used to launch myself into an exercise session without a single second of warming up… but that was before I knew better!
Impatience was generally behind my lack of wisdom, but it never really paid off. And if kickboxing has taught me anything, it is that there is definitely no room for impatience where fitness and skill is concerned; it also reminded me of something Anthony Robbins has repeatedly expressed: repetition (and practice) is the key to mastery (which obviously applies to every aspect of life, not just martial arts).
But, what if you are not really interested in investing major time and energy into a fitness program – can you still benefit from warm-up stretches? Absolutely! And even if you have to start in small ways, due to health restrictions, it doesn’t matter; a small, consistently repeated movement will develop into something a little more ambitious… and that will develop into something more ambitious than that!
Why did I decide to begin kickboxing training at the age of 60, and 28 lbs overweight? Well, firstly, because I witnessed the grading sessions, and fell in love with the positive vibes generated by the students and instructors; secondly, it was because I don’t want to slide downhill into old age, physically limited by stiffness, aches and pains (which I was already experiencing) – I intend to be a thoroughly fit and strong 70 year old! But putting technique and belts to one side, the stretching we do at the start of each class has really helped me to feel looser and more flexible, and I began to recognise just how important it is to all of us, to make stretching a daily habit.
And, if we are going to say that we ‘don’t have time to stretch’, we are wrong! Whilst watching television, we can stretch our legs out in front; we can rotate our feet, and then point our toes upwards, pulling them back toward us (as long as we don’t have a health condition that would be exacerbated by such movements; if in doubt, always consult your doctor). Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, we can stretch in any number of ways, such as: reaching up toward the ceiling for a few seconds; making circles with our arms; going up on tip toes and back down again; balancing on one leg (holding onto the table/worktop if necessary!). Also, when in bed, we can stretch our entire body for a few seconds, and then completely relax it… it can really help us to release tension we might not even realise we are holding on to!
I believe that it is important to vary our movements, as we get older, and not just follow the same routine. I have heard a lot of people say, “I don’t need to do any exercise, because I walk a lot”, and whilst walking is fantastic (I love it, and do it almost every day), we can definitely benefit from a bit of a daily warm up!
I have included two YouTube videos you might find helpful; the first is for general warm up, the second is a martial arts warm up (though certain stretches are demonstrated in both videos). So, stretch your way to greater flexibility and freedom of movement, regardless of current fitness and age!