Making Exercise Healthy Medicine

Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier™

Good Stretches, Functional Stretches, Fixing Bad Stretching

Dr. Bookspan's methods to fix injuries and improve flexibility and fitness
are used by military and top rehab centers around the world.
Pioneer in functional exercise and stretching, named
"The St. Jude of the Joints" by Harvard Medical School clinicians


© Jolie Bookspan. MEd, PhD, FAWM
Director  Neck and Back Pain Sports Medicine
Headmaster  AFEM - Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine

Copyright & Reprint Instructions      Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Checker


Exercise is Medicine?

Not All Exercise and Stretches Are Good Medicine. Not All Medicine is Healthy.

It makes no sense to create health problems from the things you do for your health. 

Hello, you are on my (Dr. Bookspan) no-ad web site, dedicated to Make Exercise Healthy Medicine™. This article shows you how to quickly stop several common sources of pain and chronic dysfunction that come from conventional exercises and stretches.

It's not health care if it's not healthy. No health insurance needed for this exciting change in health care. This is evidence-based primary source sports medicine. Get your life back - healthy, mobile, and happy. I have developed information through years of research in the lab, and put it here on my web site for the benefit of the world. Get better and the world will be better. See the links at the end of the page for more. Have fun.


Master Hiron John, President of INTERNATIONAL LINKED TAEKWON-DO, 7th Degree Black Belt, writes:
"Thank you for your kind words of wisdom in Pittsburgh,
I have been applying the stretching methods you taught
and have felt the release in my back to the extent I am able to train again.

"We have started implementing your stretches in our classes
and are noticing the effects in our students, particularly with regards to their improved posture.

"Your books are great, an excellent reference tool. They also exercise the mind by making me think"


Share this article


More Fix Pain and Training Articles

Adventure Medicine


Certification & Fellow Advancement

Private Appointments

Thai Massage


Ab Revolution

The Fitness Fixer

Projects for World Health

Diving and Hyperbarics


and eBooks

A Short History of My Work To Develop These Methods (skip this to go straight to stretching with the article below)
This information is not just copied from someone else who said it, or something I heard in a gym or in exercise science school. I am the scientist who researches what really happens. This is what I found through years of work. I started lab research studies in the 1970s to find why standard stretches weren't benefiting flexibility, and pain prevention exercises didn't work. I saw that flexibility in daily life - how people move and live called functional flexibility was not being applied. I applied it. People got better. When I was working on studies of the human body during immersion for combat swimmers, the experimental subjects, the lab physicians, and others in the lab kept saying they had stiffness and pain. Stretches their own physical therapists and docs gave them did not work or made them worse, or with new trouble later on. I fixed them up. Their doctors started calling me (calling the lab actually, as I don't have a phone) asking how I fixed them so well. They (and their physicians) started taking classes with me. In the 1980s, class participants asked me to write everything down for them. I was surprised. I thought they should have taken notes. I typed information sheets for them. More doctors came to me after taking my classes, saying they knew their standard Patient Handouts were ineffective exercises. They asked me to make handouts for their patients. I was surprised. Again. I thought they could do that themselves. I typed Patient Handout sheets for them. I kept collecting data like a good scientist, doing studies to test and retest methods, and develop better ones. When the internet came out, I sent handouts electronically instead of photocopies. In the 1990s I typed everything in several training manuals that became books. One is Health & Fitness In Plain English - How To Be Happy, Healthy and Fit for the Rest of your Life. After two different publishers, the new THIRD edition of How To Be Happy, Healthy and Fit... eliminated wrong things previous publishers added over my objections. Another book is Fix Your Own Pain, with patient stories in every chapter showing why patients get better, or don't, and why. Several more books of my life's work tell how to make life pain free, stronger, and more fun. Each book is different. 

I have seen fitness and rehab myths and fads come and go, but these methods remain effective over time. More about me in Adventures. Limited Classes and appointments to train directly with me, and workshop certification by me through AFEM for top students.  Get the books for reference while you keep getting better:

To keep this quick and easy for you, much is shortened. Use this summary to get better now, and get the books to fill in the rest:

Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier is available in print edition, eBook and Kindle.


Now go Stretch Smarter, Stretch Healthier!



Be Prepared To Stretch Your Brain


What is Different About This Information:

  • Medical and fitness books may be written by people who have not researched the information in a laboratory themselves, but repeat popular consensus (repeating what everyone else says). "Doing research" should not mean "read it in a book or on the Internet." I am the researcher who directly studies why conventional stretches are not preventing injuries, and worked years to see what to do instead.
  • Fitness classes and gyms are filled with people stretching - often in unhealthy ways that emphasize the injurious positioning that caused their tightness, pain, and injuries in the first place. Not all foods in the health food store are healthy or do what they claim. The same is true for many stretches.
  • Changing movement habits to healthier, more effective muscle lengths needed for daily life is different from doing a bunch of stretches, then going back to injurious positioning and movement habits all the rest of the day.
  • Posture stretches and posture exercises are shown to sometimes make as much pain as slouching. They do not create healthy sitting. They are also no fun. First, healthy lengths during movement needs to be learned. Then all daily movement builds-in healthy comfortable fun stretch.
  • This is not "alternative medicine." This is standard of care, common sense sports medicine techniques, applied to real life - where you actually need it.
  • I developed re-training methods to change "doing" a bunch of conventional stretches into two healthy innovations: 1. Restoring length for health and real life function - functional stretches, and 2. Getting functional flexibility as a built-in part of your daily ordinary movements - true fitness as a lifestyle.


My Students of the Black Belt Hall of Fame Class of 2014


Stretches Aren't Fixing Injuries?

  • Flexibility training is often thought to reduce injuries. The actual number of injuries show that stretching isn't as preventive as hoped.
  • The reason seems to be how people stretch, then how they move during exercise and daily life.
  • Instead of spending your day bent over a desk and steering wheel, then going to a gym or class to repeat the same forward bending, see what is really needed to restore healthy muscle length and movement ability. You need to use your brain, not just do a bunch of motions because "everyone stretches that way" or because it looks cool.
  • Instead of doing a bunch of artificial strained movements called stretches and exercises, check how you move, bend, sit, reach, and live in real life. Stretches should be functional, which means how you move in real life.
  • Just as not all foods are necessary or healthy, neither are several common stretches.



Stretches That Perpetuate The Same Painful Posture You Started With

After rounding forward all day over the computer, desk, steering wheel, handlebars, and backpack, more forward rounding for stretches and exercise is not healthful or needed.

A habit at the root of much pain and tightness is that many people do most or all of their stretches by bending forward:

They touch toes,
bring knee to chest,
hang forward at the waist,
bring arm forward over the body,
lunge forward,
do "PIlates hundreds"
and the many other bent forward Pilates, yoga, and other forward bending stretches. The several back pain articles on this web site describe the problems that this much forward bending causes to the muscles, bones, and discs of your back.

Forward stretching does stretch your back, but your back muscles are already too long and overstretched from a lifestyle of bending forward. The muscles in front - the chest and the front of the shoulder - get shorter and tighter.

After bending forward over a computer all day,
you don't need more bending forward and rounding your back as a stretch



One of Many Myths We Examine - Do You Need To Warm Up Before All Stretching and Hold Every Stretch 30 seconds?

You need a good range of motion for normal daily life. You need to crouch to retrieve things, step up a doorway, reach in cabinets, and do  a variety of ranges and movements all day every day for normal healthy lifestyle. You need to have built-in range already and be able to stretch to these ranges without elaborate preparation. If you are so tight that you would strain or tear without warming up first, every time you moved in real life, you are not healthy and changes are indicated so that you can move spontaneously in healthy ways.

I have also been finding over years of collecting patient results and in actual studies that "moving stretches" are highly effective as a stretch, as a movement re-trainer, and to help quicken the body's normal repair of damaged areas. In many cases, the "moving stretches" that I have developed are better than "holdIng" static stretches. Moving in needed ranges (small quick excursions up and down, side to side, diagonals and so on) while maintaining healthy specific stretch positioning makes effective stretch, loosens tight areas, and helps rehab damaged areas, as long as stretch range is less than any pain or "yanking" feeling on the damaged area.

In some cases, "holding" stretches at maximum range, popular in yoga, restricts circulation. Moving stretches, so far, seem good for circulation.



The Results Are Common:

  1. People spend much time doing stretches that add to the problems they started with.
  2. They lose the flexibility needed to simply stand up straight.
  3. This often results in chronic low-grade aches, injury, and wear and tear from habitual unhealthy positioning.



What To Do


A posture expert has convinced me to take my entire "What To Do" section of this page - they make thousands of dollars a WEEK by having patients come to them over and over for repeated treatments for weeks and weeks of posture exercises with fancy names, when I show people in one session the real needed direct science and practice.

Instead, you can quickly learn how to do it for yourself with my work:

Here is the Stretching Smarter Class Syllabus with helpful readings.

Here is my Clinical Page with many free summaries for fixing pain of back, neck, knees, during sitting, standing, and other.

Click Here for Stretching Smarter Classes and Other Classes for Smarter Health

Click for Private Appointment Application

Click for the books:

In print edition, Kindle AND eBook
tells how to understand for yourself and fix it for yourself.
No treatments or repeated constant payments to these people.


Summary For Healthier Smarter Stretching

  1. Understanding the greater picture of why a stretch is functional or not, tells you more than just a list of where the stretch "targets."
  2. Check your list of exercises and stretches. The majority of conventional stretches bend forward - sitting, lying, and standing bent over. Doing a few extension stretches the "other way" does not cancel the great majority of the time that people spent training a bent forward position in daily life. Many people sit at work for many hours a day, then stretch with many bent forward positions. More forward bending is not needed. Stretching needs to use your brain.
  3. Stretching just to make joints go to greater range does not in itself, translate to better use of the joint during real life movement.
  4. For many people, good flexibility means bending forward to touch the toes. Many of these same people don't have the flexibility to stand up straight. Their body and movement patterns are trained and tightened to a bent forward position. They cannot straighten out enough to comfortably lie flat without a pillow under head or knees, or stand with their back against a wall with the back of their head touching the wall without craning their neck or lower back. Their back and shoulders are too rounded and lengthened. They stand, walk, and do all activities at joint angles that impinge, grind, rub, and stress. This is functional tightness. It is a common consequence of modern exercises even posture exercises.
  5. The idea of stretching needs to be reframed as specific retraining to so you know what is healthy and  unhealthy movement, and that you no longer stand, sit, and move with strained unhealthful positioning. it doesn't happen by itself or through posture exercises.
  6. Stretching needs reform.
  7. When you stretch one area, don't wreck the others.
  8. Bad body ergonomics of rounding forward is a common cause of upper back and neck pain, often mistaken for "stress" or arthritis or whatever else is on the x-ray but not the main or even related cause of pain. Watch people at the gym and in life. Notice how often fitness publications ask you to practice being bent over. Instead, get functional stretching.

Use good healthy movement retraining (Functional Stretching), described in Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier, to regain needed muscle length for healthy positioning for all you do, not just during your few moments of stretches. That is how stretching can benefit you in your daily life.

Use these easy principles when you move in real life and when you stretch (instead of just "doing" stretches)
and feel better starting now.


Simple and Different -
Don't Change These Concepts and Methods Back To Ingrained Wrong - These Methods Work Only As Written and Intended:

Henry Louis Mencken said, "Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood"  Even so, please don't change my work back into what you know. This is different and works differently than fad stretches that have become ingrained in fitness. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, "An untrained man's report of what a knowledgeable man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand." My work is primary source, and often not what we learned in school and the gym. Remember, that is good.


What to Stretch Now?

Get Something Fun That Makes You Happy - Use my links from the BOOKS page and click anything else from there. Get anything you want whether it's my books or not, from song downloads, health and medical equipment, home stuff, movies, whatever. Amazon will send me a small percentage - anonymously - your name is never given to me. Larger purchases send me more, so get your next computer or playground this way :-) Or if you get a lot of smaller things, they also give me a bit more. Thank you for helping this web site by shopping for things you get anyway. Proceeds go toward keeping this site free and ad free, plus class scholarships and free world health programs through my Academy. Use the links for next time too. Have fun.


Stretch More:

- Make an appointment with Dr. Bookspan to learn and get better right away, not in weeks of repeated treatments - Private Appointment.

- Check the Stretch Class Syllabus with info, stories, and photos to learn about group and private classes with Dr. Bookspan.

- Delicious massage technique that stretches your body while you lie comfortably on the floor, try Thai Massage.

- Get this gem of a book Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier.

- Send Your Photos and Success Stories showing the principles in action to me on TWITTER! Follow TheFitnessFixer on Twitter   Prizes for the best ones. Tweet nice notes and success stories how you are better, which is my big reward. Follow for health updates, quick & short

- Ask Dr. Bookspan Your Questions. Personal written answers to your questions - Individual Care.

- Earn Certification in the classes, plus Fellow Advancement. Awards. Better Earth through AFEM -The Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine.

- your successes

- Mailing list. I don't send out any mails or keep any lists. For updates, info, articles, fun helpful stuff whenever you want, just look at my TWITTER page. No sign-up or log-in needed. If you join ("follow") then you can ask questions too:

- More Free Summary Articles 

- Mental & Emotional Training - a page of Dr. Bookspan's short articles for stronger emotional health.

- Adventures Medicine 

- Dr. Bookspan's Workshops at Your Location - Be part of health advances for yourself and the world. Host workshops, or join fun instructive Dr. Bookspan projects - be in my next book, write rap and songs about back pain fixes, design our Academy logo, help open our resort school - maybe at your campus, studio or cruise ship? Click Projects.

Cool Stuff Shows Healthy Positioning and Built In Stretch - T-Shirts, Mugs, Mouse pads, More. Learn and promote functional health with UNcommon sense gifts from the Academy.

Books and eBooks. All my books together cost less than your pain killers,and show you how to stop needing them and be healthier than before. Fun, easy to read, illustrated, immediately helpful. More book descriptions and info, signed books straight from the author, eBooks, Kindle, and more CLICK my BOOKS page:

Healthy Martial Arts - Top level book for all athletes to train thinking, spirit, and top performance. Healthy Martial Arts is the top of the line book (of my books) for exercises and athletes. Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is the classic strategy manual in business and power. "Healthy Martial Arts" is the strategy manual for your life.

Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier   Print Edition 8.25" x 11" and eBook instant eBook download from Kobo Books. Fun, innovative, immediately useful.

Fix Your Own Pain Without Drugs or Surgery - Print edition from eBook: Instant download from the publishers, Healthy Learning and Coaches Choice: Neck pain, back pain, shoulder and hip pain, knee pain, ankle and foot injuries, wrist pain, and "when everything hurts," featuring actual patient stories in every chapter.

The Ab Revolution Fourth Edition - No More Crunches No More Back Pain KINDLE. The Ab Revolution FOURTH edition is also available in eBook.  Third edition in Print is paperback. Click HERE for Ab Revolution THIRD edition Print.

Health & Fitness THIRD edition - Fix pain plus healthy living - How to be happy healthy and fit for the rest of your life. Health & Fitness THIRD edition PRINT,  Also in eBook Instant download:

Diving Physiology - New BLUE cover edition. The diving cult classic! Hard to find. Written by Dr. Jolie Bookspan, the Navy researcher who did the work in the field.BLUE cover is the latest edition. (Green was old)  Get the new BLUE. Signed collectors edition, order directly from author through the BOOKS page. Plus other diving and hyperbaric medicine books and resources.

More descriptions on the BOOKS page.

Even if you don't get my books, click book links and get whatever else you want - all anonymously. Amazon will send this site some pennies for orders through my links, without ever sending me your name. Have fun!



Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.
- Howard Aiken

That said, Be Healthy - Respect Copyright

Information, drawings, and photos are © protected copyright. To cite this article or any parts, put author Dr. Bookspan, and link to this site at the top and bottom of your reprinting. A suggestion to get my books is also nice. No Derivative Works License means no changes to content, wording or links.

Drawings of Backman!™ copyright © Dr. Jolie Bookspan from the book Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier and others.

More LEGAL waivers and stuff here.

Back To TOP of Page

Freely Ye Have Received; Freely Give. Matthew 10:8 (and others). "Make health contagious."
This information is © copyright. If you like this information, send it to a friend with full citation to Dr. Bookspan and links.

Entire site is education only. Nothing is medical advice. See your doctor first and use your brain


HOME    ||   Adventure Medicine   ||    Academy  ||   Appointments   ||   Books & Ebooks  ||  Bookspan Basics  ||   Classes   ||   Diving & Hyperbarics   ||   Emotional & Mental Fitness  ||   Gifts  ||   Healthy Stretch Mechanics in Real Life  ||  Hamstrings and Back Pain  ||  HUMOR - Fixa U Dept of Silly Syndromes  ||   Individual Care  ||   Lower Body Revolution (tm)   ||  More Free Fix Pain Articles    ||   Patient Success Stories   ||   Rare Photos of Early Work  ||    Thai Massage  ||   The Ab Revolution  ||   The Fitness Fixer||    Twitter  ||  Who Is Dr. Bookspan  ||   World Health Projects  ||  Yoga Without Dogma 

Share this page   

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend