Back when I was active in Aikido training, the on-mat mantra was that all martial artists should stretch. It is probably the best activity for the prevention of injury. Looking back further to when I was a runner, I remember that I have incorporated at least some form of stretching for most of my active life. In my late twenties, early thirties I was sidelined with arthritis and was informed by the orthodox medical industry that medication and limited activity would be permanent aspects of the rest of my days. I utilized chiropractic care, homeopathy, and Hatha Yoga techniques to defy that prognosis and to recover my ability to live an unhampered life--thus utilizing body stretching/manipulating to heal. Not long after realizing I wasn't doomed forever, I began the practice of Qigong/Taiji and began to further strive in the category of activity.
In time, I began the practice of Pilates, and learned a bit more about the art of stretching, and about my body and its abilities and limitations. I also still dabble with Hatha Yoga techniques and the old fashioned athletic stretching routines I learned in the military.
But I am surprised that more Qigong and Taiji teachers don't emphasize stretching. Over the last couple of years I have been doing some training with the Lotus Neigong guys and I have come to see how important stretching is, not only for physical conditioning and the prevention of injury, but for conducive Qi flow. I also realize a real gap in my approach to teaching. While I have maintained my own stretching routines, I have not been very diligent in sharing this with students/clients. Well, stand-by. The good stuff is on the way. We will be incorporating basic stretching into all our workshops, seminars, private lessons, and informal gatherings. Don't fret. This is a good thing. Your body will eventually thank you. Hopefully for a long time to come.