Let’s face it: there are a lot of problems in this world. The gap between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” gets wider and wider each day. A ride on the U.S. stock market now feels like a poorly designed attraction on Roller Coaster Tycoon. Christina Aguilera is somehow still situated in the Billboard Top 5, though her clothes cannot be located. Wars with foreign nations loom over the horizon like the Dread Pirate Roberts. It is at times like these that the peoples of the world look anywhere and everywhere for answers. Luckily, working in my top-secret crime lab (located conveniently at the pub just around the corner), I have stumbled across the one thing that can solve all of the problems that look us in the face and try to punch us in the mouth: stretching.

Now I know what you’re saying. “Ben, how could something so simple as stretching really be the guiding light? Why are you so fucking stupid?” First, we don’t know each other well enough for you to call me by my first name. Mr. Birken, Reverend Birken, El Birko, or His Royal Fucking Birkness will do just fine. Second, you haven’t even read the damn article yet. Can’t you hold off judgment for two or three measly paragraphs? Jeez. I hate when you do that.

Ok, so how can stretching be the panacea that cures the world’s ills? I can’t answer that question because I don’t know what a panacea is. It sounds good though. But I do know that stretching has a few incredibly positive aspects that at this point certainly can’t hurt. Let’s examine them in a way that not only tells us what they are, but also lets me use the list function on my word processor:

  1. Improving Performance: who wouldn’t want this? North Korea could progress from its Foraging-for Roots-and-Grass eating program. Mexico could improve the soundness of its currency. Great Britain could finally score a better time in the 100-m dash.
  2. Preventing Injury: if Russia had stretched before adopting a market-based economy instead of jumping right in, she wouldn’t have pulled her hamstrings.
  3. Improving Coordination: when is the last time you saw Brazil able to touch her toes, Ireland walk a straight line, or New Zealand skip without falling down?
  4. Promoting Joint Elasticity: if all the joints in the world could last for days instead of just a few minutes, don’t you think we would be a happier, more relaxed world? We would probably eat more beef jerky and peanut butter cups, but I think that’s a sufficient opportunity cost.
  5. Enhancing Posture and Movement: yes.

One thing this list fails to mention is the social aspect of group stretching. Nothing diffuses a tense situation like seeing someone elses train to pull their foot over their head. Their face gets flushed, they start sweating, various veins begin pulsing on their foreheads…in short, it’s a lot like your first dance with a girl. If all the members and delegations of the UN stretched before their debates, we would see fewer injuries and more compromises. I would also finally be able to get decent work as an exercise physiologist. So please, be a dear and support your local chapter of the Coalition For Creating Knowledgeable Stretchers.