Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh, to be a Carrot

So what's the point of having a blog if you can't post gratuitous photos of your pet?

Meet Carrot, a 15-year-old bundle of playful energy and love who belongs to my partner and me. All right, Carrot, I stand corrected — we belong to you. Carrot is with us today to illustrate a point, so I suppose his photo is not gratuitous after all.

Like most cats, Carrot is extremely flexible. Now our joints aren't built in such a way that we could ever hope to emulate Carrot and his ilk, but we could learn a few tips from them.

Carrot stretches — a lot. Each morning, the first thing he does when he jumps out of the wooden crate in which he likes to sleep is to hit the floor with a big, long, slow, sustained stretch, just the way we should do it, too. Atta boy, Carrot!

But he doesn't stop there. He stretches after breakfast, before naps, after naps, before and after lunch and dinner — basically all throughout the day.

No doubt about it, flexibility is a key component of fitness, but I think too often it gets short shrift in exercise programs. Oh sure, we might toss in that obligatory three minutes of stretching before we hit the weights or the treadmill, but we don't really concentrate on it. And how many of us bother to stretch after a workout?

Just as we can improve our strength or cardiovascular endurance, we can improve our flexibility through regular stretching. Plus, it just feels good.

I've decided to start stretching throughout the day, as part of my daily activities, just like my buddy Carrot. OK, so maybe I'll never be able to leap gracefully onto the top of the desk like he does, but working at that desk for hours just became a whole lot more bearable.


  1. I never thought about it but you're right - cats always seem to be stretching! And Carrot looks very serious in that picture.

  2. Oh he is all right — he's very serious about stretching!

  3. Kathy - I couldn't agree more. Like our furry little feline friends, stretching is key in retaining flexibility and ROM. As an exercise enthusiast myself, I use to put stretching on the backburner, or just though a good yoga class once a week would do the trick, until I suffered from chronic IT (iliotibial) band pain. Even after spending hrs in physical therapy and hundreds of dollars on massage therapy, I was still ignorant to how important stretching was. Finally one day I made a promise to myself that I would stretch after every workout. Nothing crazy, just enough to keep the inner/outer thighs, hams, quads, and gluets open. Amazingly, since I have been faithful in doing so, I have not had an IT injury of any sort and my ROM has increased tremendously! Hmmmm, maybe this unpopular form of fitness does mean something. To sum it up, forget the last 5 minutes of your run or the extra 10 reps at the gym. Take that time to S T R E T C H. You will be all the better for it!!

  4. Anonymous,

    I'm sorry to hear about your past pain, but am glad the stretching seems to be working for you now. Spread the word!

  5. Carrot is a guru of the first order...cats also sleep when they need to and eat when they need to and curl up and get some lovin' when they need it...we should take those examples to heart!

    I love your's interesting and informative.