With the arrival of the New Year I am sure many of you, if you have not already started, have resolved to do regular exercise. No New Year’s resolutions would be complete without it. As we’re all familiar with running on a treadmill, riding a bike, or lifting weights, I wanted to bring up another very important topic of exercise that is often overlooked: the all too important activity of stretching. A recent statement by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons emphasized that flexibility is absolutely essential to joint health. They stated that some joints can lose up to 50% of their motion, over time, making it much harder to move. Stretching has been proven to help bring back motion lost as a result of injury or time, as well as boost function. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated that stretching alone improves blood flow, lessens stiffness, and can effectively relieve chronic back pain and knee pain (when the lower back and quadriceps are stressed respectively). There are a number of different ways to stretch, such as utilizing simple controlled stretching – there are several videos and techniques described on the Internet – to do more well-controlled and focused stretching, such as yoga and Pilates. Pilates has the benefit of having an instructor trained and certified in proper technique and is, therefore, of great benefit to people with muscle, bone, and joint issues. So this year, along with your general exercise resolutions, be sure to add regular flexibility training. If your joints don’t thank you now, they will at New Year’s 2019 resolution time and beyond.