Stretch for Style

Words Mike Schwenne Photo **Riley Bangerter

**

Check out Schwenne's stretching video here.

Wait, before you read this, take a good look at the photo of my toeside indy above. This ran on page 82 of Sessions in the June mag. See that steezy drop knee I'm doing with my right leg? The truth is, a little more than a year ago, I wouldn't have been flexible enough to pull that off. See, I was born with the least maneuverable of body types. It's very easy for me to put on muscle but a real chore to keep my body limber. Back when I was 18, that didn't really matter. But at 26, after more than a decade of riding, I need to stay fit and flexible so I can avoid injury and keep riding as long as possible. That's why I started stretching.

Now, I'm no yogi or anything. In fact, I tried a yoga class once and felt completely out of place. So I started stretching on my own, using a couple of the stretches I picked up in the class. At first, I'd only stretch a handful of times a week, but I gradually progressed, adding more stretches to my routine and taking each reach a little farther each time. Soon, I was stretching every day, and after a few months, I was as flexible as some of my teenage students at West Coast Camps. Today, I feel leaner, stronger and younger than I did five years ago — I know I sound like an infomercial, but it's true. I can contort my body in ways I couldn't before, which allowed me to freshen up a lot my tricks by adding new grabs, pokes and stuff like that drop knee. More importantly, it's helping me avoid injuries and extend my life on the water.

You want to hear the best part? It's not that big of a commitment. On most days, I only stretch for three minutes. I know we're all busy, but everybody can sneak in three minutes of stretching every morning. To jump-start your stretching routine, check out some of my favorite stretches here. Find out which make sense for you and go from there. Trust me, your body will thank you.