Pain, No Gain by D.R. James

Inflexibility restricts
range of motion &
energy transfer. Always
warm up; always
lengthen. If tight,
stop to stretch, rest,
rehydrate, reduce
the possibility of injury.
Wrong way or wrong
time tightens rather
than relaxes. The old
“bounce, bounce, bounces”
risk small tears &
are not recommended.

The stretch reflex responds
to voluntary movement:
the spindles initiating
their counter contraction;
the Golgi organ,
given twenty seconds,
relaxing the muscle
and its counter muscle
in response. Thus stretch
only to a slight pull, slight
discomfort, hold-

relax. Fool
the reflex, activate
the organ. Stretching
will differ per individual.
Stretching is not competitive.
Stretching should never involve pain.

Source: Patti and Warren Finke, Team Oregon

Method: I wrote “Pain, No Gain” after browsing for websites about stretching and ran across an article that emphasized avoiding pain while doing so, which struck me as so opposite of what we had always done as athletes back in my adolescent days.  As I read, I couldn’t help but make the metaphorical leap to stretching oneself interiorly, which even today seems especially valued only when pain is involved, to the extent of claiming the old saw that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” As culturally oppositional as I am, I found Team Oregon’s language about physical stretching irresistible and indirectly applied it to emotional/spiritual stretching.  Almost all of the poem’s words come from the article.

D. R. James’s collections include If god were gentle, Since Everything Is All I’ve Got, Why War and Split-Level, and poems and prose appear in various print and online journals and anthologies. James lives in Saugatuck, Michigan, and has taught writing, literature, and peace-making at Hope College for 33 years.