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
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© Jolie Bookspan, MEd, PhD, FAWM
Director, Neck and Back Pain Sports Medicine
Director, AFEM - Academy of Functional Exercise Medicine
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. Here Is How To Make Exercise Healthy Medicine™. This short 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. 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. My web site is a no-ad site dedicated to getting you back to your life - healthy, mobile, and happy. This is evidence-based primary source sports medicine. There are hundreds of articles here for you through the many links on this page in addition to this Stretching Smarter article. Have fun.
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:
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 "medical research" does 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.
- 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.
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,
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
The Results Are Common:
- People spend much time doing stretches that add to the problems they started with.
- They lose the flexibility needed to simply stand up straight.
- This often results in chronic low-grade aches, injury, and wear and tear from habitual unhealthy positioning.
Here is What To Do
A posture expert has convinced me to take this page down - they make thousands $ 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 info.
In print edition, Kindle AND eBook tells all you need to fix it all yourself.
No treatments or repeated constant payments to these people.
- Understanding the greater picture of why a stretch is functional or not, tells you more than just a list of where the stretch "targets."
- 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.
- Stretching just to make joints go to greater range does not in itself, translate to better use of the joint during real life movement.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stretching needs reform.
- When you stretch one area, don't wreck the others.
- 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.
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