July 02, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention

by Pam

It’s day 2 of a windy regatta series, the alarm goes off in the morning, you reach over to turn it off and your body talks to you.  In your younger days, it’s an awareness that you had a really good workout the day before.  But as you get older, the previous day’s effect feels more like a punishment.  You realize that you aren’t young any more and you begin to wonder how many more years you can keep this up.  You decide to get in better shape for next time or maybe you start to accept that age might be catching up with you.

Since my late 30s, I’ve been waking up on day 2 feeling like the older sailor.  Doug, however, at 61, wakes up feeling like the younger sailor. So, what’s the difference?  No question, he has good genes as his parents are still alive and his father has outlived my mother by 30 years and counting.  But, I’m not exactly in bad shape, so why do I wake up feeling older than him and he wakes up feeling much younger than me?

Back some 20 years ago, Doug began doing one very simple thing just before hitting the water and he does it with religious consistency - he stretches.  He’s noted over the years that virtually no one else does this.  It hardly seems like this could make the difference but it does give new meaning to phrase 'an ounce of prevention.’

In his 30s and 40s Doug had a stiff back and pulled muscles like everyone else and he was actually told in his 20s that he needed back surgery (which he never had).  His stretching routine takes less than 5 minutes and the only time Doug feels his age has been on the rare occasion  when he didn't stretch.  He calls it cheap insurance.

So, do you want to feel older or younger when you wake up?  The difference may very well be 5 minutes.


  1. Thanks for that. I have a slightly different routine that incorporates a couple of those stretches along with some others. I will definitely add the other ones in your routine to mine.

  2. Thanks gents for your comments.

    Something funny happened when Dave was videoing me going through my routine. We were about to hit the water and there were several people watching from a distance. By the end of the 2 minutes, everyone was stretching with me... perhaps a little guilt?

  3. Thanks for the tip. I saw Doug doing this routine at Worlds and thought is was some kind of mind "Zen".

    I've found that post race stretching works wonders for me. I also use a rolling pin to massage my legs from my feet to thighs. It seems to work the lactic acid out. If I do this, my legs are rarely sore the next day.

    Michael O'Brien

    1. This is a great tip, thanks. Here's something else to try: after a long day of hiking, your lower back can be really stiff. The last hip flexor stretch can really help reduce this stiffness.


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