A simple truth about most fat people… we are about as nimble as a 2×4. I know that when I did a flexibility test recently, I had trouble reaching the test device. Whether our guts get in the way of a good stretch or our muscles are tighter than an old pair of Jordash jeans, stretching for fat people isn’t easy. Unfortunately, it’s something we really need to do more often. So let’s talk about proper stretching.
As I mentioned before, my particular focus lately is running, so a lot of the stretches I’m going to discuss have to do with that. But really any stretch we can do is good for us. Too often I find myself sitting in front of a computer for ten to twelve hours a day, and it shows in my flexibility (and my girth!). When I started running again, I realized that I was unable to step forward and a major factor in that was my complete lack of flexibility. By adding a good stretching regimen, I have been able to increase my stride and get a better workout. The more I feel better the next morning!
So how did I do it? First, we have the natural obstacle of our guts that we have to overcome. The easy answer for that is to stretch out horizontally while still standing. Don’t try to bend over to stretch. It’s all too easy to lose your balance and hurt yourself, especially if (when!) you stretch at the end of your workout. And stretching while sitting often hits the big belly barrier, as I like to call it. So use a low bench, a large rock, anything you can use to elevate your foot to an angle of 20 degrees or so and then straighten your leg. It keeps your intestine from being compressed and allows it to stretch very well.
As you stretch, take your time! Slowly lower yourself down and continue lowering for a count of 15. Then slowly come back up. Do this two or three times on each leg. Once you’re done with the straight leg stretch, extend those knees. Too often, fat people lock our legs while running and that makes us drag our feet. You want to progress through your calves and quads, knees, hips, lower back, and then your upper body. For your hips and lower back, do very slow twists and stay in the farthest position you can reach for a count of five.
Once you’re done with the lower body, move on to the upper body. You may not realize it, but when you run, a lot of the work is done there, and it’s an easy place to take the strain. Slowly work your shoulders and neck. Taking your time to do a good slow stretch can prevent injury. Never use jerky movements or bouncing when you are stretching, that can cause serious problems. A good stretch should take you 8-10 minutes.
Make sure to stretch before and after your workout if possible. If you can’t do a full stretch afterwards, be sure to take the time to at least work on the twists in your legs and shoulders. You’ll be glad you did for the rest of the day. Not stretching after a hard workout can lead to decreased flexibility, and we’re already dealing with that problem as fat people. All in all, stretching is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your overall health and the effectiveness of your workouts.