Real men should stretch | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I finally ticked a standard-distance triathlon off my bucket list. I joined more than 800 participants at the Subic Bay International Triathlon (Subit) two Sundays ago, and had a lot of fun.

After crossing the finish line, there was a take-care-of-yourself area off to the side. Drinks and towels were handed out, and a couple of tents set up to provide shade against the punishing sun.

In one corner was a small inflated plastic pool to dunk overheated feet, a huge fan with mist spray to help people cool down, and some chairs where some women gave grateful athletes a short massage.

It was a happy “thank God it’s over” scene. It was a hot day, and athletes were just glad to be out of the sun. I found a couple of friends to hang out with and chatted as I did my cool-down stretches.

As I did my post-race routine, I noticed nobody else was stretching. I did, however, hear a lot of stories of legs cramping up and back and knee pain, and saw contorted faces that seemed to pass for badges of honor of triathletes.

With all the literature on the importance of stretching, I often wonder why men don’t do it after a grueling race or  workout. A guy like me gets it: I’m tired, I want to rest, leave me alone.

Most likely, however, it must be because most men are too lazy to stretch, or they get bored waiting for the muscle to stretch.

Neanderthal mind

It just blows my mind—I am a yoga teacher—that these guys don’t stretch. At all.

Their lovely Neanderthal minds are probably saying, “Pain is part of being an athlete. Suck it up.” So, life with pain continues.

Considerable pain comes from tight muscles that don’t allow the body to move fluidly, or from muscles that have grown stronger and are thus pulling painfully on other body parts.

An example of the latter are the muscular (and tight) hamstrings pulling on the pelvis. This changes the curve of the lumbar spine. Without the normal curve, the body isn’t able to take even just the weight of the upper body for long periods of time, and back pain ensues.

In time and with more races, the pain  increases steadily. Usually, this is when people consider doing some stretching, albeit reluctantly. But now they discover the stretching  painful. So back to no stretching. (Gotta love how men’s minds work.)

Funny thing is, men know the benefits of being limber and flexible, but they won’t do anything about it. It’s one of those mysteries of life.

The next race I’m joining is the Century Tuna 5150 race in June, again, in Subic. This time, I think I’ll do my post-race stretch behind a big tree. Just so I can still have a beer with the guys.

The author teaches yoga for athletes at Core Yoga ( in Ortigas Center and at Bikram Yoga Manila (