The Power of Exercise and Stretching

The Power of Exercise and Stretching

Just wanted to share a few thoughts with people on the need to exercise based on my recent experiences. As many people in the club know, I have been out of action since 19th December having badly injured my left-hand – amputating my ring finger in what the doctors described as a "degloving" of the finger. Thankfully, due to the speedy reaction of a number of people who were present when it happened and due to the exceptional skills of the plastic surgery team in UCHG, it looks like I will make a reasonable recovery – hopefully regaining full movement and some or all of the feeling in it. Anyway, why post this on our website …

I want to use it to illustrate the importance of exercise as we middle-aged folk get older, as you teenagers become young adults, as you young adults become middle-aged and as you older middle-aged become senior middle-aged!

My left hand was more or less immobilised for 29 days as the wound on my reattached finger healed. When the heavy splint that was bandaged on top of my arm was removed a week ago, the doctor said "Try to make a fist". And try as I might, I just could not get any of my fingers to bend more than an inch in towards my hand. All flexibility was gone in the fingers due to lack of exercise – the tendons had completely tightened up and it seemed that my brain could not communicate the signal "bend" to the tips of my fingers any more. My left arm feels a lot skinier that the right one – muscle loss also I guess. And to compound matters, having missed out on the Christmas feasting, I've been making up for it since and have added a few lbs in all the wrong places.

 I now have some serious stretching and physio to do in order to regain movement in my left hand and once the remaining splint is no longer needed, will have to slowly ease back into regular exercise to remove those unwanted lbs and regain the wanted ones.

USE IT OR LOSE IT! This perfectly describes a person's flexibility and its critical to do regular exercise and stretching to keep your flexibility. Many of us often skimp on the stretches – they are hard work and perhaps the least interesting part of a regular training program. But they are vital to mobility!

And for the younger members of our club, the more flexible and supple you are, the greater your range of movement and thus greater your stride for running, spring for jumping etc. So don't skip the stretching as part of your training. At the end of a training session (either immediately or when you get home if you live nearby), do up to 10 minutes stretching if you can. Push into the stretches until you feel them – not so hard that you hurt yourself though. Try to feel that you are gradually increasing the stretch each week. Its never been more obvious to me how tendons can be stretched – last week I could hardy bend my fingers an inch, this week I can bend them 2 inches.

So stretch stretch and stretch on a regular basis – after exercise of course. An article in today's Irish Independent should warn us all, both young and old …

"One-fifth of Irish teenagers are overweight or obese, with young boys piling on the pounds at a far faster rate than girls. ….. Teenagers whose parents were overweight were far more likely to follow in their footsteps, while almost half of those glued to computer games for four hours or more during a weekend were overweight or obese. "

And for anyone reading this who does not do regular exercise and stretching, if you live in or near Craughwell you have no excuse – the Athletic Club offer suitable exercise for all ages almost every night of the week – circuit training Monday nights, fiit4life Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, juvenile training Tuesdays and Thursdays, with many club members meeting at other times to walk or jog together.

You don't have to be an athlete to be in the Athletic Club – just have to have some fitness goals and you may become an athlete!

And before I finish, a big thank you to the community of Craughwell, all the members of Craughwell AC and the wider athletics community for all the support and goodwill in the last 5 weeks!

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