REALLY big post about stretching exercises!

Discussion in 'Sports' started by AE86Driver, Feb 19, 2003.

  1. AE86Driver


    hey everybody!I know to some people,stretching can be boring,or much less "useless" to some people,cause they don't feel like doing it,but other people enjoy doing it and they like to be flexible,so...this HUGE book of awsome stretching excersises goes out to you guys *laughs* if you plan on actually reading ALL of this ^_^.And no I don't take any credit for this book,because I downloaded it,I didn't type out absolutely ANYTHING in this,enjoy!


    god I hope Jordan doesn't kill me for posting something THIS HUGE on his wonderful site :eek:!

    Section: Stretching and Flexibility



    Everything you never wanted to know


    by Brad Appleton

    Version: 1.42, Last Modified 98/06/10

    Copyright (C) 1993-1998 by Bradford D. Appleton

    Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
    document at no charge or at a charge that covers reproducing the cost of
    the copies, provided that the copyright notice and this permission notice
    are preserved on all copies.

    This document is available in plain text, PDF, postscript, and html formats
    via the World Wide Web from the following URLs:
    (the file suffix indicates the file format)


    The techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document are not intended as
    a substitute for proper medical advice! Consult your physician or health
    care professional before performing any new exercise or exercise technique,
    particularly if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you are elderly, or if
    you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of the
    techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document is at the reader's sole
    discretion and risk.

    The author and publisher of this document and their employers make no
    warranty of any kind in regard to the content of this document, including,
    but not limited to, any implied warranties of merchantability, or fitness
    for any particular purpose. The author and publisher of this document and
    their employers are not liable or responsible to any person or entity for
    any errors contained in this document, or for any special, incidental, or
    consequential damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly
    by the information contained in this document.

    Section: Table of Contents

    All section titles in this document begin with the prefix "Section: ". If
    you wish, you may scan ahead to a particular section by searching for the
    regular expression /^Section: SECTION-NAME/. For example, to go to the
    unnumbered section named "Introduction", you could scan for
    /^Section: Intro/; to go to section 1.1, you could scan for
    /^Section: 1\.1/; and to go to appendix A, you could scan for
    /^Section: Appendix A/.

    This document is organized into the following sections:

    About the Author

    1 Physiology of Stretching
    1.1 The Musculoskeletal System
    1.2 Muscle Composition
    1.2.1 How Muscles Contract
    1.2.2 Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers
    1.3 Connective Tissue
    1.4 Cooperating Muscle Groups
    1.5 Types of Muscle Contractions
    1.6 What Happens When You Stretch
    1.6.1 Proprioceptors
    1.6.2 The Stretch Reflex Components of the Stretch Reflex
    1.6.3 The Lengthening Reaction
    1.6.4 Reciprocal Inhibition

    2 Flexibility
    2.1 Types of Flexibility
    2.2 Factors Limiting Flexibility
    2.2.1 How Connective Tissue Affects Flexibility
    2.2.2 How Aging Affects Flexibility
    2.3 Strength and Flexibility
    2.3.1 Why Bodybuilders Should Stretch
    2.3.2 Why Contortionists Should Strengthen
    2.4 Overflexibility

    3 Types of Stretching
    3.1 Ballistic Stretching
    3.2 Dynamic Stretching
    3.3 Active Stretching
    3.4 Passive Stretching
    3.5 Static Stretching
    3.6 Isometric Stretching
    3.6.1 How Isometric Stretching Works
    3.7 PNF Stretching
    3.7.1 How PNF Stretching Works

    4 How to Stretch
    4.1 Warming Up
    4.1.1 General Warm-Up Joint Rotations Aerobic Activity
    4.1.2 Warm-Up Stretching Static Warm-Up Stretching Dynamic Warm-Up Stretching
    4.1.3 Sport-Specific Activity
    4.2 Cooling Down
    4.3 Massage
    4.4 Elements of a Good Stretch
    4.4.1 Isolation
    4.4.2 Leverage
    4.4.3 Risk
    4.5 Some Risky Stretches
    4.6 Duration, Counting, and Repetition
    4.7 Breathing During Stretching
    4.8 Exercise Order
    4.9 When to Stretch
    4.9.1 Early-Morning Stretching
    4.10 Stretching With a Partner
    4.11 Stretching to Increase Flexibility
    4.12 Pain and Discomfort
    4.12.1 Common Causes of Muscular Soreness
    4.12.2 Stretching with Pain
    4.12.3 Overstretching
    4.13 Performing Splits
    4.13.1 Common Problems When Performing Splits
    4.13.2 The Front Split
    4.13.3 The Side Split
    4.13.4 Split-Stretching Machines

    Appendix A References on Stretching
    A.1 Recommendations
    A.2 Additional Comments

    Appendix B Working Toward the Splits
    B.1 lower back stretches
    B.2 lying buttock stretch
    B.3 groin and inner-thigh stretch
    B.4 seated leg stretches
    B.4.1 seated calf stretch
    B.4.2 seated hamstring stretch
    B.4.3 seated inner-thigh stretch
    B.5 psoas stretch
    B.6 quadricep stretch
    B.7 lying `V' stretch

    Appendix C Normal Ranges of Joint Motion
    C.1 Neck
    C.2 Lumbar Spine
    C.3 Shoulder
    C.4 Elbow
    C.5 Wrist
    C.6 Hip
    C.7 Knee
    C.8 Ankle


    Section: Introduction

    This document is a modest attempt to compile a wealth of information in
    order to answer some frequently asked questions about stretching and
    flexibility. It is organized into chapters covering the following topics:

    1. Physiology of Stretching

    2. Flexibility

    3. Types of Stretching

    4. How to Stretch

    Although each chapter may refer to sections in other chapters, it is not
    required that you read every chapter in the order presented. It is
    important, however, that you read the disclaimer before reading any other
    sections of this document. See [Disclaimer]. If you wish to skip around,
    numerous cross references are supplied in each section to help you find the
    concepts you may have missed. There is also an index at the end of this

    Section: Disclaimer

    I (Brad Appleton - the author of this document) do *not* claim to be any
    kind of expert on stretching, anatomy, physiology, or any other biological
    science. I am merely attempting to compile information that I have read in
    books or that has been presented to me by knowledgeable sources.



    In other words: "I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV!" I can not be
    held liable for any damages or injuries that you might suffer from somehow
    relying upon information in this document, no matter how awful. Not even if
    the information in question is incorrect or inaccurate. If you have any
    doubt (and even if you don't) you should always check with your doctor
    before trying any new exercise or exercise technique.

    Section: Acknowledgements

    Thanks to all the readers of the `rec.martial-arts', `' and
    `' newsgroups on Usenet who responded to my request for
    questions (and answers) on stretching. Many parts of this document come
    directly from these respondents. Thanks in particular to Shawne Neeper for
    sharing her formidable knowledge of muscle anatomy and physiology.

    Other portions of this document rely heavily upon the information in the
    following books:

    `Sport Stretch', by Michael J. Alter
    (referred to as M. Alter in the rest of this document)

    `Stretching Scientifically', by Tom Kurz
    (referred to as Kurz in the rest of this document)

    `SynerStretch For Total Body Flexibility', from Health For Life
    (referred to as `SynerStretch' in the rest of this document)

    `The Health For Life Training Advisor', also from Health For Life
    (referred to as `HFLTA' in the rest of this document)

    `Mobility Training for the Martial Arts', by Tony Gummerson
    (referred to as Gummerson in the rest of this document)

    Further information on these books and others, is available near the end of
    this document. See Section Appendix A [References on Stretching].

    Section: About the Author

    I am *not* any kind of medical or fitness professional! I do have over 6
    years of martial arts training, and over 20 years of dance training in
    classical ballet, modern, and jazz. However, my primary "qualifications" to
    write this document are that I took considerable time and effort to read
    several books on the topic, and to combine the information that I read with
    the information supplied to me from many knowledgeable readers of Usenet
    news. I have tried to write this document for all audiences and not make
    it specific to any particular sport or art (such as dancing or martial
    arts). I have also tried to leave out any of my own personal opinions or
    feelings and just state the facts as related to me by the *real* experts.

    If you have specific questions or comments about the specific content of
    one or more parts of the stretching FAQ, please email them to me at
    <`'>. However, *Please do not email me asking
    for any stretching advice!* I am a professional software developer of
    programming tools and environments. I simply am not qualified to dispense
    medical or fitness advice. You need to seek out a licensed/certified
    medical or fitness professional for that sort of thing. The information I
    have compiled here comes from various expert sources, and I certainly
    learned a lot when I researched the subject, but Im *not* an expert myself.

    Section: 1 Physiology of Stretching

    The purpose of this chapter is to introduce you to some of the basic
    physiological concepts that come into play when a muscle is stretched.
    Concepts will be introduced initially with a general overview and then (for
    those who want to know the gory details) will be discussed in further
    detail. If you aren't all that interested in this aspect of stretching, you
    can skip this chapter. Other sections will refer to important concepts from
    this chapter and you can easily look them up on a "need to know" basis.

    Section: 1.1 The Musculoskeletal System

    Together, muscles and bones comprise what is called the "musculoskeletal
    system" of the body. The bones provide posture and structural support for
    the body and the muscles provide the body with the ability to move (by
    contracting, and thus generating tension). The musculoskeletal system also
    provides protection for the body's internal organs. In order to serve their
    function, bones must be joined together by something. The point where bones
    connect to one another is called a "joint", and this connection is made
    mostly by "ligaments" (along with the help of muscles). Muscles are
    attached to the bone by "tendons". Bones, tendons, and ligaments do not
    possess the ability (as muscles do) to make your body move. Muscles are
    very unique in this respect.

    Section: 1.2 Muscle Composition

    Muscles vary in shape and in size, and serve many different purposes. Most
    large muscles, like the hamstrings and quadriceps, control motion. Other
    muscles, like the heart, and the muscles of the inner ear, perform other
    functions. At the microscopic level however, all muscles share the same
    basic structure.

    At the highest level, the (whole) muscle is composed of many strands of
    tissue called "fascicles". These are the strands of muscle that we see when
    we cut red meat or poultry. Each fascicle is composed of "fasciculi" which
    are bundles of "muscle fibers". The muscle fibers are in turn composed of
    tens of thousands of thread-like "myofybrils", which can contract, relax,
    and elongate (lengthen). The myofybrils are (in turn) composed of up to
    millions of bands laid end-to-end called "sarcomeres". Each sarcomere is
    made of overlapping thick and thin filaments called "myofilaments". The
    thick and thin myofilaments are made up of "contractile proteins",
    primarily actin and myosin.

    Section: 1.2.1 How Muscles Contract

    The way in which all these various levels of the muscle operate is as
    follows: Nerves connect the spinal column to the muscle. The place where
    the nerve and muscle meet is called the "neuromuscular junction". When an
    electrical signal crosses the neuromuscular junction, it is transmitted
    deep inside the muscle fibers. Inside the muscle fibers, the signal
    stimulates the flow of calcium which causes the thick and thin myofilaments
    to slide across one another. When this occurs, it causes the sarcomere to
    shorten, which generates force. When billions of sarcomeres in the muscle
    shorten all at once it results in a contraction of the entire muscle fiber.

    When a muscle fiber contracts, it contracts completely. There is no such
    thing as a partially contracted muscle fiber. Muscle fibers are unable to
    vary the intensity of their contraction relative to the load against which
    they are acting. If this is so, then how does the force of a muscle
    contraction vary in strength from strong to weak? What happens is that
    more muscle fibers are recruited, as they are needed, to perform the job at
    hand. The more muscle fibers that are recruited by the central nervous
    system, the stronger the force generated by the muscular contraction.

    Section: 1.2.2 Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers

    The energy which produces the calcium flow in the muscle fibers comes from
    "mitochondria", the part of the muscle cell that converts glucose (blood
    sugar) into energy. Different types of muscle fibers have different amounts
    of mitochondria. The more mitochondria in a muscle fiber, the more energy
    it is able to produce. Muscle fibers are categorized into "slow-twitch
    fibers" and "fast-twitch fibers". Slow-twitch fibers (also called "Type 1
    muscle fibers") are slow to contract, but they are also very slow to
    fatigue. Fast-twitch fibers are very quick to contract and come in two
    varieties: "Type 2A muscle fibers" which fatigue at an intermediate rate,
    and "Type 2B muscle fibers" which fatigue very quickly. The main reason the
    slow-twitch fibers are slow to fatigue is that they contain more
    mitochondria than fast-twitch fibers and hence are able to produce more
    energy. Slow-twitch fibers are also smaller in diameter than fast-twitch
    fibers and have increased capillary blood flow around them. Because they
    have a smaller diameter and an increased blood flow, the slow-twitch fibers
    are able to deliver more oxygen and remove more waste products from the
    muscle fibers (which decreases their "fatigability").

    These three muscle fiber types (Types 1, 2A, and 2B) are contained in all
    muscles in varying amounts. Muscles that need to be contracted much of the
    time (like the heart) have a greater number of Type 1 (slow) fibers. When a
    muscle first starts to contract, it is primarily Type 1 fibers that are
    initially activated, then Type 2A and Type 2B fibers are activated (if
    needed) in that order. The fact that muscle fibers are "recruited" in this
    sequence is what provides the ability to execute brain commands with such
    fine-tuned tuned muscle responses. It also makes the Type 2B fibers
    difficult to train because they are not activated until most of the Type 1
    and Type 2A fibers have been recruited.

    `HFLTA' states that the the best way to remember the difference between
    muscles with predominantly slow-twitch fibers and muscles with
    predominantly fast-twitch fibers is to think of "white meat" and "dark
    meat". Dark meat is dark because it has a greater number of slow-twitch
    muscle fibers and hence a greater number of mitochondria, which are dark.
    White meat consists mostly of muscle fibers which are at rest much of the
    time but are frequently called on to engage in brief bouts of intense
    activity. This muscle tissue can contract quickly but is fast to fatigue
    and slow to recover. White meat is lighter in color than dark meat because
    it contains fewer mitochondria.

    Section: 1.3 Connective Tissue

    Located all around the muscle and its fibers are "connective tissues".
    Connective tissue is composed of a base substance and two kinds of protein
    based fiber. The two types of fiber are "collagenous connective tissue" and
    "elastic connective tissue". Collagenous connective tissue consists mostly
    of collagen (hence its name) and provides tensile strength. Elastic
    connective tissue consists mostly of elastin and (as you might guess from
    its name) provides elasticity. The base substance is called
    "mucopolysaccharide" and acts as both a lubricant (allowing the fibers to
    easily slide over one another), and as a glue (holding the fibers of the
    tissue together into bundles). The more elastic connective tissue there is
    around a joint, the greater the range of motion in that joint. Connective
    tissues are made up of tendons, ligaments, and the fascial sheaths that
    envelop, or bind down, muscles into separate groups. These fascial
    sheaths, or "fascia", are named according to where they are located in the

    The innermost fascial sheath that envelops individual muscle fibers.

    The fascial sheath that binds groups of muscle fibers into individual
    fasciculi (see Section 1.2 [Muscle Composition]).

    The outermost fascial sheath that binds entire fascicles (see Section
    1.2 [Muscle Composition]).

    These connective tissues help provide suppleness and tone to the muscles.

    Section: 1.4 Cooperating Muscle Groups

    When muscles cause a limb to move through the joint's range of motion, they
    usually act in the following cooperating groups:

    These muscles cause the movement to occur. They create the normal range
    of movement in a joint by contracting. Agonists are also referred to
    as "prime movers" since they are the muscles that are primarily
    responsible for generating the movement.

    These muscles act in opposition to the movement generated by the
    agonists and are responsible for returning a limb to its initial

    These muscles perform, or assist in performing, the same set of joint
    motion as the agonists. Synergists are sometimes referred to as
    "neutralizers" because they help cancel out, or neutralize, extra
    motion from the agonists to make sure that the force generated works
    within the desired plane of motion.

    These muscles provide the necessary support to assist in holding the
    rest of the body in place while the movement occurs. Fixators are also
    sometimes called "stabilizers".

    As an example, when you flex your knee, your hamstring contracts, and, to
    some extent, so does your gastrocnemius (calf) and lower buttocks.
    Meanwhile, your quadriceps are inhibited (relaxed and lengthened somewhat)
    so as not to resist the flexion (see Section 1.6.4 [Reciprocal
    Inhibition]). In this example, the hamstring serves as the agonist, or
    prime mover; the quadricep serves as the antagonist; and the calf and lower
    buttocks serve as the synergists. Agonists and antagonists are usually
    located on opposite sides of the affected joint (like your hamstrings and
    quadriceps, or your triceps and biceps), while synergists are usually
    located on the same side of the joint near the agonists. Larger muscles
    often call upon their smaller neighbors to function as synergists.

    The following is a list of commonly used agonist/antagonist muscle pairs:

    * pectorals/latissimus dorsi (pecs and lats)

    * anterior deltoids/posterior deltoids (front and back shoulder)

    * trapezius/deltoids (traps and delts)

    * abdominals/spinal erectors (abs and lower-back)

    * left and right external obliques (sides)

    * quadriceps/hamstrings (quads and hams)

    * shins/calves

    * biceps/triceps

    * forearm flexors/extensors

    Section: 1.5 Types of Muscle Contractions

    The contraction of a muscle does not necessarily imply that the muscle
    shortens; it only means that tension has been generated. Muscles can
    contract in the following ways:

    "isometric contraction"
    This is a contraction in which no movement takes place, because the
    load on the muscle exceeds the tension generated by the contracting
    muscle. This occurs when a muscle attempts to push or pull an
    immovable object.

    "isotonic contraction"
    This is a contraction in which movement *does* take place, because the
    tension generated by the contracting muscle exceeds the load on the
    muscle. This occurs when you use your muscles to successfully push or
    pull an object.

    Isotonic contractions are further divided into two types:

    "concentric contraction"
    This is a contraction in which the muscle decreases in length
    (shortens) against an opposing load, such as lifting a weight up.

    "eccentric contraction"
    This is a contraction in which the muscle increases in length
    (lengthens) as it resists a load, such as lowering a weight down
    in a slow, controlled fashion.

    During a concentric contraction, the muscles that are shortening serve
    as the agonists and hence do all of the work. During an eccentric
    contraction the muscles that are lengthening serve as the agonists
    (and do all of the work). See Section 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups].

    Section: 1.6 What Happens When You Stretch

    The stretching of a muscle fiber begins with the sarcomere (see Section 1.2
    [Muscle Composition]), the basic unit of contraction in the muscle fiber.
    As the sarcomere contracts, the area of overlap between the thick and thin
    myofilaments increases. As it stretches, this area of overlap decreases,
    allowing the muscle fiber to elongate. Once the muscle fiber is at its
    maximum resting length (all the sarcomeres are fully stretched), additional
    stretching places force on the surrounding connective tissue (see Section
    1.3 [Connective Tissue]). As the tension increases, the collagen fibers in
    the connective tissue align themselves along the same line of force as the
    tension. Hence when you stretch, the muscle fiber is pulled out to its full
    length sarcomere by sarcomere, and then the connective tissue takes up the
    remaining slack. When this occurs, it helps to realign any disorganized
    fibers in the direction of the tension. This realignment is what helps to
    rehabilitate scarred tissue back to health.

    When a muscle is stretched, some of its fibers lengthen, but other fibers
    may remain at rest. The current length of the entire muscle depends upon
    the number of stretched fibers (similar to the way that the total strength
    of a contracting muscle depends on the number of recruited fibers
    contracting). According to `SynerStretch' you should think of "little
    pockets of fibers distributed throughout the muscle body stretching, and
    other fibers simply going along for the ride". The more fibers that are
    stretched, the greater the length developed by the stretched muscle.

    Section: 1.6.1 Proprioceptors

    The nerve endings that relay all the information about the musculoskeletal
    system to the central nervous system are called "proprioceptors".
    Proprioceptors (also called "mechanoreceptors") are the source of all
    "proprioception": the perception of one's own body position and movement.
    The proprioceptors detect any changes in physical displacement (movement or
    position) and any changes in tension, or force, within the body. They are
    found in all nerve endings of the joints, muscles, and tendons. The
    proprioceptors related to stretching are located in the tendons and in the
    muscle fibers.

    There are two kinds of muscle fibers: "intrafusal muscle fibers" and
    "extrafusal muscle fibers". Extrafusil fibers are the ones that contain
    myofibrils (see Section 1.2 [Muscle Composition]) and are what is usually
    meant when we talk about muscle fibers. Intrafusal fibers are also called
    "muscle spindles" and lie parallel to the extrafusal fibers. Muscle
    spindles, or "stretch receptors", are the primary proprioceptors in the
    muscle. Another proprioceptor that comes into play during stretching is
    located in the tendon near the end of the muscle fiber and is called the
    "golgi tendon organ". A third type of proprioceptor, called a "pacinian
    corpuscle", is located close to the golgi tendon organ and is responsible
    for detecting changes in movement and pressure within the body.

    When the extrafusal fibers of a muscle lengthen, so do the intrafusal
    fibers (muscle spindles). The muscle spindle contains two different types
    of fibers (or stretch receptors) which are sensitive to the change in
    muscle length and the rate of change in muscle length. When muscles
    contract it places tension on the tendons where the golgi tendon organ is
    located. The golgi tendon organ is sensitive to the change in tension and
    the rate of change of the tension.

    Section: 1.6.2 The Stretch Reflex

    When the muscle is stretched, so is the muscle spindle (see Section 1.6.1
    [Proprioceptors]). The muscle spindle records the change in length (and how
    fast) and sends signals to the spine which convey this information. This
    triggers the "stretch reflex" (also called the "myotatic reflex") which
    attempts to resist the change in muscle length by causing the stretched
    muscle to contract. The more sudden the change in muscle length, the
    stronger the muscle contractions will be (plyometric, or "jump", training
    is based on this fact). This basic function of the muscle spindle helps to
    maintain muscle tone and to protect the body from injury.

    One of the reasons for holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time is
    that as you hold the muscle in a stretched position, the muscle spindle
    habituates (becomes accustomed to the new length) and reduces its
    signaling. Gradually, you can train your stretch receptors to allow
    greater lengthening of the muscles.

    Some sources suggest that with extensive training, the stretch reflex of
    certain muscles can be controlled so that there is little or no reflex
    contraction in response to a sudden stretch. While this type of control
    provides the opportunity for the greatest gains in flexibility, it also
    provides the greatest risk of injury if used improperly. Only consummate
    professional athletes and dancers at the top of their sport (or art) are
    believed to actually possess this level of muscular control.

    Section: Components of the Stretch Reflex

    The stretch reflex has both a dynamic component and a static component.
    The static component of the stretch reflex persists as long as the muscle
    is being stretched. The dynamic component of the stretch reflex (which can
    be very powerful) lasts for only a moment and is in response to the initial
    sudden increase in muscle length. The reason that the stretch reflex has
    two components is because there are actually two kinds of intrafusal muscle
    fibers: "nuclear chain fibers", which are responsible for the static
    component; and "nuclear bag fibers", which are responsible for the dynamic

    Nuclear chain fibers are long and thin, and lengthen steadily when
    stretched. When these fibers are stretched, the stretch reflex nerves
    increase their firing rates (signaling) as their length steadily increases.
    This is the static component of the stretch reflex.

    Nuclear bag fibers bulge out at the middle, where they are the most
    elastic. The stretch-sensing nerve ending for these fibers is wrapped
    around this middle area, which lengthens rapidly when the fiber is
    stretched. The outer-middle areas, in contrast, act like they are filled
    with viscous fluid; they resist fast stretching, then gradually extend
    under prolonged tension. So, when a fast stretch is demanded of these
    fibers, the middle takes most of the stretch at first; then, as the
    outer-middle parts extend, the middle can shorten somewhat. So the nerve
    that senses stretching in these fibers fires rapidly with the onset of a
    fast stretch, then slows as the middle section of the fiber is allowed to
    shorten again. This is the dynamic component of the stretch reflex: a
    strong signal to contract at the onset of a rapid increase in muscle
    length, followed by slightly "higher than normal" signaling which gradually
    decreases as the rate of change of the muscle length decreases.

    Section: 1.6.3 The Lengthening Reaction

    When muscles contract (possibly due to the stretch reflex), they produce
    tension at the point where the muscle is connected to the tendon, where the
    golgi tendon organ is located. The golgi tendon organ records the change in
    tension, and the rate of change of the tension, and sends signals to the
    spine to convey this information (see Section 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]).
    When this tension exceeds a certain threshold, it triggers the "lengthening
    reaction" which inhibits the muscles from contracting and causes them to
    relax. Other names for this reflex are the "inverse myotatic reflex",
    "autogenic inhibition", and the "clasped-knife reflex". This basic
    function of the golgi tendon organ helps to protect the muscles, tendons,
    and ligaments from injury. The lengthening reaction is possible only
    because the signaling of golgi tendon organ to the spinal cord is powerful
    enough to overcome the signaling of the muscle spindles telling the muscle
    to contract.

    Another reason for holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time is to
    allow this lengthening reaction to occur, thus helping the stretched
    muscles to relax. It is easier to stretch, or lengthen, a muscle when it is
    not trying to contract.

    Section: 1.6.4 Reciprocal Inhibition

    When an agonist contracts, in order to cause the desired motion, it usually
    forces the antagonists to relax (see Section 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle
    Groups]). This phenomenon is called "reciprocal inhibition" because the
    antagonists are inhibited from contracting. This is sometimes called
    "reciprocal innervation" but that term is really a misnomer since it is the
    agonists which inhibit (relax) the antagonists. The antagonists do *not*
    actually innervate (cause the contraction of) the agonists.

    Such inhibition of the antagonistic muscles is not necessarily required.
    In fact, co-contraction can occur. When you perform a sit-up, one would
    normally assume that the stomach muscles inhibit the contraction of the
    muscles in the lumbar, or lower, region of the back. In this particular
    instance however, the back muscles (spinal erectors) also contract. This is
    one reason why sit-ups are good for strengthening the back as well as the

    When stretching, it is easier to stretch a muscle that is relaxed than to
    stretch a muscle that is contracting. By taking advantage of the
    situations when reciprocal inhibition *does* occur, you can get a more
    effective stretch by inducing the antagonists to relax during the stretch
    due to the contraction of the agonists. You also want to relax any muscles
    used as synergists by the muscle you are trying to stretch. For example,
    when you stretch your calf, you want to contract the shin muscles (the
    antagonists of the calf) by flexing your foot. However, the hamstrings use
    the calf as a synergist so you want to also relax the hamstrings by
    contracting the quadricep (i.e., keeping your leg straight).

    Section: 2 Flexibility

    Flexibility is defined by Gummerson as "the absolute range of movement in a
    joint or series of joints that is attainable in a momentary effort with the
    help of a partner or a piece of equipment." This definition tells us that
    flexibility is not something general but is specific to a particular joint
    or set of joints. In other words, it is a myth that some people are
    innately flexible throughout their entire body. Being flexible in one
    particular area or joint does not necessarily imply being flexible in
    another. Being "loose" in the upper body does not mean you will have a
    "loose" lower body. Furthermore, according to `SynerStretch', flexibility
    in a joint is also "specific to the action performed at the joint (the
    ability to do front splits doesn't imply the ability to do side splits even
    though both actions occur at the hip)."

    Section: 2.1 Types of Flexibility

    Many people are unaware of the fact that there are different types of
    flexibility. These different types of flexibility are grouped according to
    the various types of activities involved in athletic training. The ones
    which involve motion are called "dynamic" and the ones which do not are
    called "static". The different types of flexibility (according to Kurz) are:

    "dynamic flexibility"
    Dynamic flexibility (also called "kinetic flexibility") is the ability
    to perform dynamic (or kinetic) movements of the muscles to bring a
    limb through its full range of motion in the joints.

    "static-active flexibility"
    Static-active flexibility (also called "active flexibility") is the
    ability to assume and maintain extended positions using only the
    tension of the agonists and synergists while the antagonists are being
    stretched (see Section 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]). For example,
    lifting the leg and keeping it high without any external support
    (other than from your own leg muscles).

    "static-passive flexibility"
    Static-passive flexibility (also called "passive flexibility") is the
    ability to assume extended positions and then maintain them using only
    your weight, the support of your limbs, or some other apparatus (such
    as a chair or a barre). Note that the ability to maintain the position
    does not come solely from your muscles, as it does with static-active
    flexibility. Being able to perform the splits is an example of
    static-passive flexibility.

    Research has shown that active flexibility is more closely related to the
    level of sports achievement than is passive flexibility. Active
    flexibility is harder to develop than passive flexibility (which is what
    most people think of as "flexibility"); not only does active flexibility
    require passive flexibility in order to assume an initial extended
    position, it also requires muscle strength to be able to hold and maintain
    that position.

    Section: 2.2 Factors Limiting Flexibility

    According to Gummerson, flexibility (he uses the term "mobility") is
    affected by the following factors:

    * Internal influences

    - the type of joint (some joints simply aren't meant to be flexible)

    - the internal resistance within a joint

    - bony structures which limit movement

    - the elasticity of muscle tissue (muscle tissue that is scarred
    due to a previous injury is not very elastic)

    - the elasticity of tendons and ligaments (ligaments do not stretch
    much and tendons should not stretch at all)

    - the elasticity of skin (skin actually has some degree of
    elasticity, but not much)

    - the ability of a muscle to relax and contract to achieve the
    greatest range of movement

    - the temperature of the joint and associated tissues (joints and
    muscles offer better flexibility at body temperatures that are 1
    to 2 degrees higher than normal)

    * External influences

    - the temperature of the place where one is training (a warmer
    temperature is more conducive to increased flexibility)

    - the time of day (most people are more flexible in the afternoon
    than in the morning, peaking from about 2:30pm-4pm)

    - the stage in the recovery process of a joint (or muscle) after
    injury (injured joints and muscles will usually offer a lesser
    degree of flexibility than healthy ones)

    - age (pre-adolescents are generally more flexible than adults)

    - gender (females are generally more flexible than males)

    - one's ability to perform a particular exercise (practice makes

    - one's commitment to achieving flexibility

    - the restrictions of any clothing or equipment

    Some sources also the suggest that water is an important dietary element
    with regard to flexibility. Increased water intake is believed to
    contribute to increased mobility, as well as increased total body

    Rather than discuss each of these factors in significant detail as
    Gummerson does, I will attempt to focus on some of the more common factors
    which limit one's flexibility. According to `SynerStretch', the most
    common factors are: bone structure, muscle mass, excess fatty tissue, and
    connective tissue (and, of course, physical injury or disability).

    Depending on the type of joint involved and its present condition (is it
    healthy?), the bone structure of a particular joint places very noticeable
    limits on flexibility. This is a common way in which age can be a factor
    limiting flexibility since older joints tend not to be as healthy as
    younger ones.

    Muscle mass can be a factor when the muscle is so heavily developed that it
    interferes with the ability to take the adjacent joints through their
    complete range of motion (for example, large hamstrings limit the ability
    to fully bend the knees). Excess fatty tissue imposes a similar restriction.

    The majority of "flexibility" work should involve performing exercises
    designed to reduce the internal resistance offered by soft connective
    tissues (see Section 1.3 [Connective Tissue]). Most stretching exercises
    attempt to accomplish this goal and can be performed by almost anyone,
    regardless of age or gender.

    Section: 2.2.1 How Connective Tissue Affects Flexibility

    The resistance to lengthening that is offered by a muscle is dependent upon
    its connective tissues: When the muscle elongates, the surrounding
    connective tissues become more taut (see Section 1.3 [Connective Tissue]).
    Also, inactivity of certain muscles or joints can cause chemical changes in
    connective tissue which restrict flexibility. According to M. Alter, each
    type of tissue plays a certain role in joint stiffness: "The joint capsule
    (i.e., the saclike structure that encloses the ends of bones) and ligaments
    are the most important factors, accounting for 47 percent of the stiffness,
    followed by the muscle's fascia (41 percent), the tendons (10 percent), and
    skin (2 percent)".

    M. Alter goes on to say that efforts to increase flexibility should be
    directed at the muscle's fascia however. This is because it has the most
    elastic tissue, and because ligaments and tendons (since they have less
    elastic tissue) are not intended to stretched very much at all.
    Overstretching them may weaken the joint's integrity and cause
    destabilization (which increases the risk of injury).

    When connective tissue is overused, the tissue becomes fatigued and may
    tear, which also limits flexibility. When connective tissue is unused or
    under used, it provides significant resistance and limits flexibility. The
    elastin begins to fray and loses some of its elasticity, and the collagen
    increases in stiffness and in density. Aging has some of the same effects
    on connective tissue that lack of use has.

    Section: 2.2.2 How Aging Affects Flexibility

    With appropriate training, flexibility can, and should, be developed at all
    ages. This does not imply, however, that flexibility can be developed at
    the same rate by everyone. In general, the older you are, the longer it
    will take to develop the desired level of flexibility. Hopefully, you'll be
    more patient if you're older.

    According to M. Alter, the main reason we become less flexible as we get
    older is a result of certain changes that take place in our connective
    tissues. As we age, our bodies gradually dehydrate to some extent. It is
    believed that "stretching stimulates the production or retention of
    lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, thus preventing the
    formation of adhesions". Hence, exercise can delay some of the loss of
    flexibility that occurs due to the aging process.

    M. Alter further states that some of the physical changes attributed to
    aging are the following:

    * An increased amount of calcium deposits, adhesions, and cross-links in
    the body

    * An increase in the level of fragmentation and dehydration

    * Changes in the chemical structure of the tissues.

    * Loss of "suppleness" due to the replacement of muscle fibers with
    fatty, collagenous fibers.

    This does *not* mean that you should give up trying to achieve flexibility
    if you are old or inflexible. It just means that you need to work harder,
    and more carefully, for a longer period of time when attempting to increase
    flexibility. Increases in the ability of muscle tissues and connective
    tissues to elongate (stretch) can be achieved at any age.

    Section: 2.3 Strength and Flexibility

    Strength training and flexibility training should go hand in hand. It is a
    common misconception that there must always be a trade-off between
    flexibility and strength. Obviously, if you neglect flexibility training
    altogether in order to train for strength then you are certainly
    sacrificing flexibility (and vice versa). However, performing exercises
    for both strength and flexibility need not sacrifice either one. As a
    matter of fact, flexibility training and strength training can actually
    enhance one another.

    Section: 2.3.1 Why Bodybuilders Should Stretch

    One of the best times to stretch is right after a strength workout such as
    weightlifting. Static stretching of fatigued muscles (see Section 3.5
    [Static Stretching]) performed immediately following the exercise(s) that
    caused the fatigue, helps not only to increase flexibility, but also
    enhances the promotion of muscular development (muscle growth), and will
    actually help decrease the level of post-exercise soreness. Here's why:

    After you have used weights (or other means) to overload and fatigue your
    muscles, your muscles retain a "pump" and are shortened somewhat. This
    "shortening" is due mostly to the repetition of intense muscle activity
    that often only takes the muscle through part of its full range of motion.
    This "pump" makes the muscle appear bigger. The "pumped" muscle is also
    full of lactic acid and other by-products from exhaustive exercise. If the
    muscle is not stretched afterward, it will retain this decreased range of
    motion (it sort of "forgets" how to make itself as long as it could) and
    the buildup of lactic acid will cause post-exercise soreness. Static
    stretching of the "pumped" muscle helps it to become "looser", and to
    "remember" its full range of movement. It also helps to remove lactic acid
    and other waste-products from the muscle. While it is true that stretching
    the "pumped" muscle will make it appear visibly smaller, it does not
    decrease the muscle's size or inhibit muscle growth. It merely reduces the
    "tightness" (contraction) of the muscles so that they do not "bulge" as

    Also, strenuous workouts will often cause damage to the muscle's connective
    tissue. The tissue heals in 1 to 2 days but it is believed that the tissues
    heal at a shorter length (decreasing muscular development as well as
    flexibility). To prevent the tissues from healing at a shorter length,
    physiologists recommend static stretching after strength workouts.

    Section: 2.3.2 Why Contortionists Should Strengthen

    You should be "tempering" (or balancing) your flexibility training with
    strength training (and vice versa). Do not perform stretching exercises for
    a given muscle group without also performing strength exercises for that
    same group of muscles. Judy Alter, in her book `Stretch and Strengthen',
    recommends stretching muscles after performing strength exercises, and
    performing strength exercises for every muscle you stretch. In other words:
    "Strengthen what you stretch, and stretch after you strengthen!"

    The reason for this is that flexibility training on a regular basis causes
    connective tissues to stretch which in turn causes them to loosen (become
    less taut) and elongate. When the connective tissue of a muscle is weak, it
    is more likely to become damaged due to overstretching, or sudden, powerful
    muscular contractions. The likelihood of such injury can be prevented by
    strengthening the muscles bound by the connective tissue. Kurz suggests
    dynamic strength training consisting of light dynamic exercises with
    weights (lots of reps, not too much weight), and isometric tension
    exercises. If you also lift weights, dynamic strength training for a
    muscle should occur *before* subjecting that muscle to an intense
    weightlifting workout. This helps to pre-exhaust the muscle first, making
    it easier (and faster) to achieve the desired overload in an intense
    strength workout. Attempting to perform dynamic strength training *after*
    an intense weightlifting workout would be largely ineffective.

    If you are working on increasing (or maintaining) flexibility then it is
    *very* important that your strength exercises force your muscles to take
    the joints through their full range of motion. According to Kurz,
    Repeating movements that do not employ a full range of motion in the joints
    (like cycling, certain weightlifting techniques, and pushups) can cause of
    shortening of the muscles surrounding the joints. This is because the
    nervous control of length and tension in the muscles are set at what is
    repeated most strongly and/or most frequently.

    Section: 2.4 Overflexibility

    It is possible for the muscles of a joint to become too flexible.
    According to `SynerStretch', there is a tradeoff between flexibility and
    stability. As you get "looser" or more limber in a particular joint, less
    support is given to the joint by its surrounding muscles. Excessive
    flexibility can be just as bad as not enough because both increase your
    risk of injury.

    Once a muscle has reached its absolute maximum length, attempting to
    stretch the muscle further only serves to stretch the ligaments and put
    undue stress upon the tendons (two things that you do *not* want to
    stretch). Ligaments will tear when stretched more than 6% of their normal
    length. Tendons are not even supposed to be able to lengthen. Even when
    stretched ligaments and tendons do not tear, loose joints and/or a decrease
    in the joint's stability can occur (thus vastly increasing your risk of

    Once you have achieved the desired level of flexibility for a muscle or set
    of muscles and have maintained that level for a solid week, you should
    discontinue any isometric or PNF stretching of that muscle until some of
    its flexibility is lost (see Section 3.6 [Isometric Stretching], and see
    Section 3.7 [PNF Stretching]).

    Section: 3 Types of Stretching

    Just as there are different types of flexibility, there are also different
    types of stretching. Stretches are either dynamic (meaning they involve
    motion) or static (meaning they involve no motion). Dynamic stretches
    affect dynamic flexibility and static stretches affect static flexibility
    (and dynamic flexibility to some degree).

    The different types of stretching are:

    1. ballistic stretching

    2. dynamic stretching

    3. active stretching

    4. passive (or relaxed) stretching

    5. static stretching

    6. isometric stretching

    7. PNF stretching

    Section: 3.1 Ballistic Stretching

    Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an
    attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion. This is stretching,
    or "warming up", by bouncing into (or out of) a stretched position, using
    the stretched muscles as a spring which pulls you out of the stretched
    position. (e.g. bouncing down repeatedly to touch your toes.) This type
    of stretching is not considered useful and can lead to injury. It does not
    allow your muscles to adjust to, and relax in, the stretched position. It
    may instead cause them to tighten up by repeatedly activating the stretch
    reflex (see Section 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]).

    Section: 3.2 Dynamic Stretching

    "Dynamic stretching", according to Kurz, "involves moving parts of your
    body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both." Do not
    confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching! Dynamic stretching
    consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you (gently!) to the
    limits of your range of motion. Ballistic stretches involve trying to
    force a part of the body *beyond* its range of motion. In dynamic
    stretches, there are no bounces or "jerky" movements. An example of
    dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or
    torso twists.

    Dynamic stretching improves dynamic flexibility and is quite useful as part
    of your warm-up for an active or aerobic workout (such as a dance or
    martial-arts class). See Section 4.1 [Warming Up].

    According to Kurz, dynamic stretching exercises should be performed in sets
    of 8-12 repetitions. Be sure to stop when and if you feel tired. Tired
    muscles have less elasticity which decreases the range of motion used in
    your movements. Continuing to exercise when you are tired serves only to
    reset the nervous control of your muscle length at the reduced range of
    motion used in the exercise (and will cause a loss of flexibility). Once
    you attain a maximal range of motion for a joint in any direction you
    should stop doing that movement during that workout. Tired and overworked
    muscles won't attain a full range of motion and the muscle's kinesthetic
    memory will remember the repeated shorted range of motion, which you will
    then have to overcome before you can make further progress.

    Section: 3.3 Active Stretching

    "Active stretching" is also referred to as "static-active stretching". An
    active stretch is one where you assume a position and then hold it there
    with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles
    (see Section 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]). For example, bringing your
    leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg
    muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position. The tension
    of the agonists in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being
    stretched (the antagonists) by reciprocal inhibition (see Section 1.6.4
    [Reciprocal Inhibition]).

    Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the
    agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and
    maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer
    than 15 seconds.

    Many of the movements (or stretches) found in various forms of yoga are
    active stretches.

    Section: 3.4 Passive Stretching

    "Passive stretching" is also referred to as "relaxed stretching", and as
    "static-passive stretching". A passive stretch is one where you assume a
    position and hold it with some other part of your body, or with the
    assistance of a partner or some other apparatus. For example, bringing your
    leg up high and then holding it there with your hand. The splits is an
    example of a passive stretch (in this case the floor is the "apparatus"
    that you use to maintain your extended position).

    Slow, relaxed stretching is useful in relieving spasms in muscles that are
    healing after an injury. Obviously, you should check with your doctor first
    to see if it is okay to attempt to stretch the injured muscles (see Section
    4.12 [Pain and Discomfort]).

    Relaxed stretching is also very good for "cooling down" after a workout and
    helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness. See Section 4.2
    [Cooling Down].

    Section: 3.5 Static Stretching

    Many people use the term "passive stretching" and "static stretching"
    interchangeably. However, there are a number of people who make a
    distinction between the two. According to M. Alter, "Static stretching"
    consists of stretching a muscle (or group of muscles) to its farthest point
    and then maintaining or holding that position, whereas "Passive stretching"
    consists of a relaxed person who is relaxed (passive) while some external
    force (either a person or an apparatus) brings the joint through its range
    of motion.

    Notice that the definition of passive stretching given in the previous
    section encompasses *both* of the above definitions. Throughout this
    document, when the term "static stretching" or "passive stretching" is
    used, its intended meaning is the definition of passive stretching as
    described in the previous section. You should be aware of these alternative
    meanings, however, when looking at other references on stretching.

    Section: 3.6 Isometric Stretching

    "Isometric stretching" is a type of static stretching (meaning it does not
    use motion) which involves the resistance of muscle groups through
    isometric contractions (tensing) of the stretched muscles (see Section 1.5
    [Types of Muscle Contractions]). The use of isometric stretching is one of
    the fastest ways to develop increased static-passive flexibility and is
    much more effective than either passive stretching or active stretching
    alone. Isometric stretches also help to develop strength in the "tensed"
    muscles (which helps to develop static-active flexibility), and seems to
    decrease the amount of pain usually associated with stretching.

    The most common ways to provide the needed resistance for an isometric
    stretch are to apply resistance manually to one's own limbs, to have a
    partner apply the resistance, or to use an apparatus such as a wall (or the
    floor) to provide resistance.

    An example of manual resistance would be holding onto the ball of your foot
    to keep it from flexing while you are using the muscles of your calf to try
    and straighten your instep so that the toes are pointed.

    An example of using a partner to provide resistance would be having a
    partner hold your leg up high (and keep it there) while you attempt to
    force your leg back down to the ground.

    An example of using the wall to provide resistance would be the well known
    "push-the-wall" calf-stretch where you are actively attempting to move the
    wall (even though you know you can't).

    Isometric stretching is *not* recommended for children and adolescents
    whose bones are still growing. These people are usually already flexible
    enough that the strong stretches produced by the isometric contraction have
    a much higher risk of damaging tendons and connective tissue. Kurz
    strongly recommends preceding any isometric stretch of a muscle with
    dynamic strength training for the muscle to be stretched. A full session of
    isometric stretching makes a lot of demands on the muscles being stretched
    and should not be performed more than once per day for a given group of
    muscles (ideally, no more than once every 36 hours).

    The proper way to perform an isometric stretch is as follows:

    1. Assume the position of a passive stretch for the desired muscle.

    2. Next, tense the stretched muscle for 7-15 seconds (resisting against
    some force that will not move, like the floor or a partner).

    3. Finally, relax the muscle for at least 20 seconds.

    Some people seem to recommend holding the isometric contraction for longer
    than 15 seconds, but according to `SynerStretch' (the videotape), research
    has shown that this is not necessary. So you might as well make your
    stretching routine less time consuming.

    Section: 3.6.1 How Isometric Stretching Works

    Recall from our previous discussion (see Section 1.2.1 [How Muscles
    Contract]) that there is no such thing as a partially contracted muscle
    fiber: when a muscle is contracted, some of the fibers contract and some
    remain at rest (more fibers are recruited as the load on the muscle
    increases). Similarly, when a muscle is stretched, some of the fibers are
    elongated and some remain at rest (see Section 1.6 [What Happens When You
    Stretch]). During an isometric contraction, some of the resting fibers are
    being pulled upon from both ends by the muscles that are contracting. The
    result is that some of those resting fibers stretch!

    Normally, the handful of fibers that stretch during an isometric
    contraction are not very significant. The true effectiveness of the
    isometric contraction occurs when a muscle that is already in a stretched
    position is subjected to an isometric contraction. In this case, some of
    the muscle fibers are already stretched before the contraction, and, if
    held long enough, the initial passive stretch overcomes the stretch reflex
    (see Section 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]) and triggers the lengthening
    reaction (see Section 1.6.3 [The Lengthening Reaction]), inhibiting the
    stretched fibers from contracting. At this point, according to
    `SynerStretch', when you isometrically contracted, some resting fibers
    would contract and some resting fibers would stretch. Furthermore, many of
    the fibers already stretching may be prevented from contracting by the
    inverse myotatic reflex (the lengthening reaction) and would stretch even
    more. When the isometric contraction is completed, the contracting fibers
    return to their resting length but the stretched fibers would remember
    their stretched length and (for a period of time) retain the ability to
    elongate past their previous limit. This enables the entire muscle to
    stretch beyonds its initial maximum and results in increased flexibility.

    The reason that the stretched fibers develop and retain the ability to
    stretch beyond their normal limit during an isometric stretch has to do
    with the muscle spindles (see Section 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]): The signal
    which tells the muscle to contract voluntarily, also tells the muscle
    spindle's (intrafusal) muscle fibers to shorten, increasing sensitivity of
    the stretch reflex. This mechanism normally maintains the sensitivity of
    the muscle spindle as the muscle shortens during contraction. This allows
    the muscle spindles to habituate (become accustomed) to an even
    further-lengthened position.

    Section: 3.7 PNF Stretching

    PNF stretching is currently the fastest and most effective way known to
    increase static-passive flexibility. PNF is an acronym for "proprioceptive
    neuromuscular facilitation". It is not really a type of stretching but is
    a technique of combining passive stretching (see Section 3.4 [Passive
    Stretching]) and isometric stretching (see Section 3.6 [Isometric
    Stretching]) in order to achieve maximum static flexibility. Actually, the
    term PNF stretching is itself a misnomer. PNF was initially developed as a
    method of rehabilitating stroke victims. PNF refers to any of several
    "post-isometric relaxation" stretching techniques in which a muscle group
    is passively stretched, then contracts isometrically against resistance
    while in the stretched position, and then is passively stretched again
    through the resulting increased range of motion. PNF stretching usually
    employs the use of a partner to provide resistance against the isometric
    contraction and then later to passively take the joint through its
    increased range of motion. It may be performed, however, without a
    partner, although it is usually more effective with a partner's assistance.

    Most PNF stretching techniques employ "isometric agonist
    contraction/relaxation" where the stretched muscles are contracted
    isometrically and then relaxed. Some PNF techniques also employ "isometric
    antagonist contraction" where the antagonists of the stretched muscles are
    contracted. In all cases, it is important to note that the stretched muscle
    should be rested (and relaxed) for at least 20 seconds before performing
    another PNF technique. The most common PNF stretching techniques are:

    the "hold-relax"
    This technique is also called the "contract-relax". After assuming an
    initial passive stretch, the muscle being stretched is isometrically
    contracted for 7-15 seconds, after which the muscle is briefly relaxed
    for 2-3 seconds, and then immediately subjected to a passive stretch
    which stretches the muscle even further than the initial passive
    stretch. This final passive stretch is held for 10-15 seconds. The
    muscle is then relaxed for 20 seconds before performing another PNF

    the "hold-relax-contract"
    This technique is also called the "contract-relax-contract", and the
    "contract-relax-antagonist-contract" (or "CRAC"). It involves
    performing two isometric contractions: first of the agonists, then, of
    the antagonists. The first part is similar to the hold-relax where,
    after assuming an initial passive stretch, the stretched muscle is
    isometrically contracted for 7-15 seconds. Then the muscle is relaxed
    while its antagonist immediately performs an isometric contraction that
    is held for 7-15 seconds. The muscles are then relaxed for 20 seconds
    before performing another PNF technique.

    the "hold-relax-swing"
    This technique (and a similar technique called the "hold-relax-bounce")
    actually involves the use of dynamic or ballistic stretches in
    conjunction with static and isometric stretches. It is *very* risky,
    and is successfully used only by the most advanced of athletes and
    dancers that have managed to achieve a high level of control over
    their muscle stretch reflex (see Section 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]).
    It is similar to the hold-relax technique except that a dynamic or
    ballistic stretch is employed in place of the final passive stretch.

    Notice that in the hold-relax-contract, there is no final passive stretch.
    It is replaced by the antagonist-contraction which, via reciprocal
    inhibition (see Section 1.6.4 [Reciprocal Inhibition]), serves to relax and
    further stretch the muscle that was subjected to the initial passive
    stretch. Because there is no final passive stretch, this PNF technique is
    considered one of the safest PNF techniques to perform (it is less likely
    to result in torn muscle tissue). Some people like to make the technique
    even more intense by adding the final passive stretch after the second
    isometric contraction. Although this can result in greater flexibility
    gains, it also increases the likelihood of injury.

    Even more risky are dynamic and ballistic PNF stretching techniques like
    the hold-relax-swing, and the hold-relax-bounce. If you are not a
    professional athlete or dancer, you probably have no business attempting
    either of these techniques (the likelihood of injury is just too great).
    Even professionals should not attempt these techniques without the guidance
    of a professional coach or training advisor. These two techniques have the
    greatest potential for rapid flexibility gains, but only when performed by
    people who have a sufficiently high level of control of the stretch reflex
    in the muscles that are being stretched.

    Like isometric stretching (see Section 3.6 [Isometric Stretching]), PNF
    stretching is also not recommended for children and people whose bones are
    still growing (for the same reasons. Also like isometric stretching, PNF
    stretching helps strengthen the muscles that are contracted and therefore
    is good for increasing active flexibility as well as passive flexibility.
    Furthermore, as with isometric stretching, PNF stretching is very strenuous
    and should be performed for a given muscle group no more than once per day
    (ideally, no more than once per 36 hour period).

    The initial recommended procedure for PNF stretching is to perform the
    desired PNF technique 3-5 times for a given muscle group (resting 20
    seconds between each repetition). However, `HFLTA' cites a 1987 study
    whose results suggest that performing 3-5 repetitions of a PNF technique
    for a given muscle group is not necessarily any more effective than
    performing the technique only once. As a result, in order to decrease the
    amount of time taken up by your stretching routine (without decreasing its
    effectiveness), `HFLTA' recommends performing only one PNF technique per
    muscle group stretched in a given stretching session.

    Section: 3.7.1 How PNF Stretching Works

    Remember that during an isometric stretch, when the muscle performing the
    isometric contraction is relaxed, it retains its ability to stretch beyond
    its initial maximum length (see Section 3.6.1 [How Isometric Stretching
    Works]). Well, PNF tries to take immediate advantage of this increased
    range of motion by immediately subjecting the contracted muscle to a
    passive stretch.

    The isometric contraction of the stretched muscle accomplishes several

    1. As explained previously (see Section 3.6.1 [How Isometric Stretching
    Works]), it helps to train the stretch receptors of the muscle spindle
    to immediately accommodate a greater muscle length.

    2. The intense muscle contraction, and the fact that it is maintained for
    a period of time, serves to fatigue many of the fast-twitch fibers of
    the contracting muscles (see Section 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle
    Fibers]). This makes it harder for the fatigued muscle fibers to
    contract in resistance to a subsequent stretch (see Section 1.6.2 [The
    Stretch Reflex]).

    3. The tension generated by the contraction activates the golgi tendon
    organ (see Section 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]), which inhibits contraction
    of the muscle via the lengthening reaction (see Section 1.6.3 [The
    Lengthening Reaction]). Voluntary contraction during a stretch
    increases tension on the muscle, activating the golgi tendon organs
    more than the stretch alone. So, when the voluntary contraction is
    stopped, the muscle is even more inhibited from contracting against a
    subsequent stretch.

    PNF stretching techniques take advantage of the sudden "vulnerability" of
    the muscle and its increased range of motion by using the period of time
    immediately following the isometric contraction to train the stretch
    receptors to get used to this new, increased, range of muscle length. This
    is what the final passive (or in some cases, dynamic) stretch accomplishes.

    Section: 4 How to Stretch

    When done properly, stretching can do more than just increase flexibility.
    According to M. Alter, benefits of stretching include:

    * enhanced physical fitness

    * enhanced ability to learn and perform skilled movements

    * increased mental and physical relaxation

    * enhanced development of body awareness

    * reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons

    * reduced muscular soreness

    * reduced muscular tension

    * increased suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals
    which lubricate connective tissues (see Section 1.3 [Connective

    * reduced severity of painful menstruation ("dysmenorrhea") in females

    Unfortunately, even those who stretch do not always stretch properly and
    hence do not reap some or all of these benefits. Some of the most common
    mistakes made when stretching are:

    * improper warm-up

    * inadequate rest between workouts

    * overstretching

    * performing the wrong exercises

    * performing exercises in the wrong (or sub-optimal) sequence

    In this chapter, we will try to show you how to avoid these problems, and
    others, and present some of the most effective methods for realizing all
    the benefits of stretching.

    Section: 4.1 Warming Up

    Stretching is *not* warming up! It is, however, a very important part of
    warming up. Warming up is quite literally the process of "warming up"
    (i.e., raising your core body temperature). A proper warm-up should raise
    your body temperature by one or two degrees Celsius (1.4 to 2.8 degrees
    Fahrenheit) and is divided into three phases:

    1. general warm-up

    2. stretching

    3. sport-specific activity

    It is very important that you perform the general warm-up *before* you
    stretch. It is *not* a good idea to attempt to stretch before your muscles
    are warm (something which the general warm-up accomplishes).

    Warming up can do more than just loosen stiff muscles; when done properly,
    it can actually improve performance. On the other hand, an improper
    warm-up, or no warm-up at all, can greatly increase your risk of injury
    from engaging in athletic activities.

    It is important to note that active stretches and isometric stretches
    should *not* be part of your warm-up because they are often
    counterproductive. The goals of the warm-up are (according to Kurz): "an
    increased awareness, improved coordination, improved elasticity and
    contractibility of muscles, and a greater efficiency of the respiratory and
    cardiovascular systems." Active stretches and isometric stretches do not
    help achieve these goals because they are likely to cause the stretched
    muscles to be too tired to properly perform the athletic activity for which
    you are preparing your body.

    Section: 4.1.1 General Warm-Up

    The general warm-up is divided into two parts:

    1. joint rotations

    2. aerobic activity

    These two activities should be performed in the order specified above.

    Section: Joint Rotations

    The general warm-up should begin with joint-rotations, starting either from
    your toes and working your way up, or from your fingers and working your
    way down. This facilitates joint motion by lubricating the entire joint
    with synovial fluid. Such lubrication permits your joints to function more
    easily when called upon to participate in your athletic activity. You
    should perform slow circular movements, both clockwise and
    counter-clockwise, until the joint seems to move smoothly. You should
    rotate the following (in the order given, or in the reverse order):

    1. fingers and knuckles

    2. wrists

    3. elbows

    4. shoulders

    5. neck

    6. trunk/waist

    7. hips

    8. legs

    9. knees

    10. ankles

    11. toes

    Section: Aerobic Activity

    After you have performed the joint rotations, you should engage in at least
    five minutes of aerobic activity such as jogging, jumping rope, or any
    other activity that will cause a similar increase in your cardiovascular
    output (i.e., get your blood pumping). The purpose of this is to raise
    your core body temperature and get your blood flowing. Increased blood
    flow in the muscles improves muscle performance and flexibility and reduces
    the likelihood of injury.

    Section: 4.1.2 Warm-Up Stretching

    The stretching phase of your warmup should consist of two parts:

    1. static stretching

    2. dynamic stretching

    It is important that static stretches be performed *before* any dynamic
    stretches in your warm-up. Dynamic stretching can often result in
    overstretching, which damages the muscles (see Section 4.12.3
    [Overstretching]). Performing static stretches first will help reduce this
    risk of injury.

    Section: Static Warm-Up Stretching

    Once the general warm-up has been completed, the muscles are warmer and
    more elastic. Immediately following your general warm-up, you should engage
    in some slow, relaxed, static stretching (see Section 3.5 [Static
    Stretching]). You should start with your back, followed by your upper body
    and lower body, stretching your muscles in the following order (see Section
    4.8 [Exercise Order]):

    1. back

    2. sides (external obliques)

    3. neck

    4. forearms and wrists

    5. triceps

    6. chest

    7. buttocks

    8. groin (adductors)

    9. thighs (quadriceps and abductors)

    10. calves

    11. shins

    12. hamstrings

    13. instep

    Some good static stretches for these various muscles may be found in most
    books about stretching. See Section Appendix A [References on Stretching].
    Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to stretch all these muscles
    before a workout. If you are one such person, you should at least take the
    time to stretch all the muscles that will be heavily used during your

    Section: Dynamic Warm-Up Stretching

    Once you have performed your static stretches, you should engage in some
    light dynamic stretching: leg-raises, and arm-swings in all directions (see
    Section 3.2 [Dynamic Stretching]). According to Kurz, you should do "as
    many sets as it takes to reach your maximum range of motion in any given
    direction", but do not work your muscles to the point of fatigue. Remember
    - this is just a warm-up, the real workout comes later.

    Some people are surprised to find that dynamic stretching has a place in
    the warm-up. But think about it: you are "warming up" for a workout that is
    (usually) going to involve a lot of dynamic activity. It makes sense that
    you should perform some dynamic exercises to increase your dynamic

    Section: 4.1.3 Sport-Specific Activity

    The last part of your warm-up should be devoted to performing movements
    that are a "watered-down" version of the movements that you will be
    performing during your athletic activity. `HFLTA' says that the last phase
    of a warm-up should consist of the same movements that will be used during
    the athletic event but at a reduced intensity. Such "sport-specific
    activity" is beneficial because it improves coordination, balance,
    strength, and response time, and may reduce the risk of injury.

    Section: 4.2 Cooling Down

    Stretching is *not* a legitimate means of cooling down. It is only part of
    the process. After you have completed your workout, the best way to reduce
    muscle fatigue and soreness (caused by the production of lactic acid from
    your maximal or near-maximal muscle exertion) is to perform a light
    "warm-down". This warm-down is similar to the second half of your warm-up
    (but in the reverse order). The warm-down consists of the following phases:

    1. sport-specific activity

    2. dynamic stretching

    3. static stretching

    Ideally, you should start your warm-down with about 10-20 minutes of
    sport-specific activity (perhaps only a little more intense than in your
    warm-up). In reality however, you may not always have 10-20 minutes to
    spare at the end of your workout. You should, however, attempt to perform
    at least 5 minutes of sport-specific activity in this case. The
    sport-specific activity should immediately be followed by stretching:
    First perform some light dynamic stretches until your heart rate slows down
    to its normal rate, then perform some static stretches. Sport-specific
    activity, followed by stretching, can reduce cramping, tightening, and
    soreness in fatigued muscles and will make you feel better.

    According to `HFLTA', "light warm-down exercise immediately following
    maximal exertion is a better way of clearing lactic acid from the blood
    than complete rest." Furthermore, if you are still sore the next day, a
    light warm-up or warm-down is a good way to reduce lingering muscle
    tightness and soreness even when not performed immediately after a workout.
    See Section 4.12 [Pain and Discomfort].

    Section: 4.3 Massage

    Many people are unaware of the beneficial role that massage can play in
    both strength training and flexibility training. Massaging a muscle, or
    group of muscles, immediately prior to performing stretching or strength
    exercises for those muscles, has some of the following benefits:

    increased blood flow
    The massaging of the muscles helps to warm-up those muscles,
    increasing their blood flow and improving their circulation.

    relaxation of the massaged muscles
    The massaged muscles are more relaxed. This is particularly helpful
    when you are about to stretch those muscles. It can also help relieve
    painful muscle cramps.

    removal of metabolic waste
    The massaging action, and the improved circulation and blood flow
    which results, helps to remove waste products, such as lactic acid,
    from the muscles. This is useful for relieving post-exercise soreness.

    Because of these benefits, you may wish to make massage a regular part of
    your stretching program: immediately before each stretch you perform,
    massage the muscles you are about to stretch.

    Section: 4.4 Elements of a Good Stretch

    According to `SynerStretch', there are three factors to consider when
    determining the effectiveness of a particular stretching exercise:

    1. isolation

    2. leverage

    3. risk

    Section: 4.4.1 Isolation

    Ideally, a particular stretch should work only the muscles you are trying
    to stretch. Isolating the muscles worked by a given stretch means that you
    do not have to worry about having to overcome the resistance offered by
    more than one group of muscles. In general, the fewer muscles you try to
    stretch at once, the better. For example, you are better off trying to
    stretch one hamstring at a time than both hamstrings at once. By isolating
    the muscle you are stretching, you experience resistance from fewer muscle
    groups, which gives you greater control over the stretch and allows you to
    more easily change its intensity. As it turns out, the splits is not one
    of the best stretching exercises. Not only does it stretch several
    different muscle groups all at once, it also stretches them in both legs at

    Section: 4.4.2 Leverage

    Having leverage during a stretch means having sufficient control over how
    intense the stretch becomes, and how fast. If you have good leverage, not
    only are you better able to achieve the desired intensity of the stretch,
    but you do not need to apply as much force to your outstretched limb in
    order to effectively increase the intensity of the stretch. This gives you
    greater control.

    According to `SynerStretch', the best stretches (those which are most
    effective) provide the greatest mechanical advantage over the stretched
    muscle. By using good leverage, it becomes easier to overcome the
    resistance of inflexible muscles (the same is true of isolation). Many
    stretching exercises (good and bad) can be made easier and more effective
    simply by adjusting them to provide greater leverage.

    Section: 4.4.3 Risk

    Although a stretch may be very effective in terms of providing the athlete
    with ample leverage and isolation, the potential risk of injury from
    performing the stretch must be taken into consideration. Once again,
    `SynerStretch' says it best: Even an exercise offering great leverage and
    great isolation may still be a poor choice to perform. Some exercises can
    simply cause too much stress to the joints (which may result in injury).
    They may involve rotations that strain tendons or ligaments, or put
    pressure on the disks of the back, or contain some other twist or turn that
    may cause injury to seemingly unrelated parts of the body.

    Section: 4.5 Some Risky Stretches

    The following stretches (many of which are commonly performed) are
    considered risky (M. Alter uses the term `X'-rated) due to the fact that
    they have a very high risk of injury for the athlete that performs them.
    This does not mean that these stretches should never be performed. However,
    great care should be used when attempting any of these stretches. Unless
    you are an advanced athlete or are being coached by a qualified instructor
    (such as a certified Yoga instructor, physical therapist, or professional
    trainer), you can probably do without them (or find alternative stretching
    exercises to perform). When performed correctly with the aid of an
    instructor however, some of these stretches can be quite beneficial. Each
    of these stretches is illustrated in detail in the section `X-Rated
    Exercises' of M. Alter:

    "the yoga plough"
    In this exercise, you lie down on your back and then try to sweep your
    legs up and over, trying to touch your knees to your ears. This
    position places excessive stress on the lower back, and on the discs
    of the spine. Not to mention the fact that it compresses the lungs and
    heart, and makes it very difficult to breathe. This particular
    exercise also stretches a region that is frequently flexed as a result
    of improper posture. This stretch is a prime example of an exercise
    that is very easy to do incorrectly. However, with proper instruction
    and attention to body position and alignment, this stretch can be
    performed successfully with a minimal amount of risk and can actually
    improve spinal health and mobility.

    "the traditional backbend"
    In this exercise, your back is maximally arched with the soles of your
    feet and the palms of your hands both flat on the floor, and your neck
    tilted back. This position squeezes (compresses) the spinal discs and
    pinches nerve fibers in your back.

    "the traditional hurdler's stretch"
    This exercise has you sit on the ground with one leg straight in front
    of you, and with the other leg fully flexed (bent) behind you, as you
    lean back and stretch the quadricep of the flexed leg. The two legged
    version of this stretch is even worse for you, and involves fully
    bending both legs behind you on either side. The reason this stretch is
    harmful is that it stretches the medial ligaments of the knee
    (remember, stretching ligaments and tendons is *bad*) and crushes the
    meniscus. It can also result in slipping of the knee cap from being
    twisted and compressed.

    "straight-legged toe touches"
    In this stretch, your legs are straight (either together or spread
    apart) and your back is bent over while you attempt to touch your toes
    or the floor. If you do not have the ability to support much of your
    weight with your hands when performing this exercise, your knees are
    likely to hyperextend. This position can also place a great deal of
    pressure on the vertebrae of the lower lumbar. Furthermore, if you
    choose to have your legs spread apart, it places more stress on the
    knees, which can sometimes result in permanent deformity.

    "torso twists"
    Performing sudden, intense twists of the torso, especially with
    weights, while in an upright (erect) position can tear tissue (by
    exceeding the momentum absorbing capacity of the stretched tissues)
    and can strain the ligaments of the knee.

    "inverted stretches"
    This is any stretch where you "hang upside down". Staying inverted for
    too long increases your blood pressure and may even rupture blood
    vessels (particularly in the eyes). Inverted positions are especially
    discouraged for anyone with spinal problems.

    Section: 4.6 Duration, Counting, and Repetition

    One thing many people seem to disagree about is how long to hold a passive
    stretch in its position. Various sources seem to suggest that they should
    be held for as little as 10 seconds to as long as a full minute (or even
    several minutes). The truth is that no one really seems to know for sure.
    According to `HFLTA' there exists some controversy over how long a stretch
    should be held. Many researchers recommend 30-60 seconds. For the
    hamstrings, research suggests that 15 seconds may be sufficient, but it is
    not yet known whether 15 seconds is sufficient for any other muscle group.

    A good common ground seems to be about 20 seconds. Children, and people
    whose bones are still growing, do not need to hold a passive stretch this
    long (and, in fact, Kurz strongly discourages it). Holding the stretch for
    about 7-10 seconds should be sufficient for this younger group of people.

    A number of people like to count (either out loud or to themselves) while
    they stretch. While counting during a stretch is not, by itself,
    particularly important ... what is important is the setting of a definite
    goal for each stretching exercise performed. Counting during a stretch
    helps many people achieve this goal.

    Many sources also suggest that passive stretches should be performed in
    sets of 2-5 repetitions with a 15-30 second rest in between each stretch.

    Section: 4.7 Breathing During Stretching

    Proper breathing control is important for a successful stretch. Proper
    breathing helps to relax the body, increases blood flow throughout the
    body, and helps to mechanically remove lactic acid and other by-products of

    You should be taking slow, relaxed breaths when you stretch, trying to
    exhale as the muscle is stretching. Some even recommend increasing the
    intensity of the stretch only while exhaling, holding the stretch in its
    current position at all other times (this doesn't apply to isometric

    The proper way to breathe is to inhale slowly through the nose, expanding
    the abdomen (not the chest); hold the breath a moment; then exhale slowly
    through the nose or mouth. Inhaling through the nose has several purposes
    including cleaning the air and insuring proper temperature and humidity for
    oxygen transfer into the lungs. The breath should be natural and the
    diaphragm and abdomen should remain soft. There should be no force of the
    breath. Some experts seem to prefer exhaling through the nose (as opposed
    to through the mouth) saying that exhaling through the mouth causes
    depression on the heart and that problems will ensue over the long term.

    The rate of breathing should be controlled through the use of the glottis
    in the back of the throat. This produces a very soft "hm-m-m-mn" sound
    inside the throat as opposed to a sniffing sound in the nasal sinuses. The
    exhalation should be controlled in a similar manner, but if you are
    exhaling through the mouth, it should be with more of an "ah-h-h-h-h"
    sound, like a sigh of relief.

    As you breathe in, the diaphragm presses downward on the internal organs
    and their associated blood vessels, squeezing the blood out of them. As
    you exhale, the abdomen, its organs and muscles, and their blood vessels
    flood with new blood. This rhythmic contraction and expansion of the
    abdominal blood vessels is partially responsible for the circulation of
    blood in the body. Also, the rhythmic pumping action helps to remove waste
    products from the muscles in the torso. This pumping action is referred to
    as the "respiratory pump". The respiratory pump is important during
    stretching because increased blood flow to the stretched muscles improves
    their elasticity, and increases the rate at which lactic acid is purged
    from them.

    Section: 4.8 Exercise Order

    Many people are unaware of the fact that the order in which you perform
    your stretching exercises is important. Quite often, when we perform a
    particular stretch, it actually stretches more than one group of muscles:
    the muscles that the stretch is primarily intended for, and other
    supporting muscles that are also stretched but which do not receive the
    "brunt" of the stretch. These supporting muscles usually function as
    synergists for the muscles being stretched (see Section 1.4 [Cooperating
    Muscle Groups]). This is the basis behind a principle that `SynerStretch'
    calls the "interdependency of muscle groups".

    Before performing a stretch intended for a particular muscle, but which
    actually stretches several muscles, you should first stretch each of that
    muscle's synergists. The benefit of this is that you are able to better
    stretch the primary muscles by not allowing the supporting muscles the
    opportunity to be a limiting factor in how "good" a stretch you can attain
    for a particular exercise.

    Ideally, it is best to perform a stretch that isolates a particular muscle
    group, but this is not always possible. According to `SynerStretch': "by
    organizing the exercises within a stretching routine according to the
    principle of interdependency of muscle groups, you minimize the effort
    required to perform the routine, and maximize the effectiveness of the
    individual exercises." This is what `Health For Life' (in all of their
    publications) calls "synergism": "combining elements to create a whole that
    is greater than the mere sum of its parts."

    For example, a stretch intended primarily for the hamstrings may also make
    some demands upon the calves and buttocks (and even the lower back) but
    mostly, it stretches the hamstrings. In this case, it would be beneficial
    to stretch the lower back, buttocks, and calves first (in that order, using
    stretches intended primarily for those muscles) before they need to be used
    in a stretch that is intended primarily for the hamstrings.

    As a general rule, you should usually do the following when putting
    together a stretching routine:

    * stretch your back (upper and lower) first

    * stretch your sides after stretching your back

    * stretch your buttocks before stretching your groin or your hamstrings

    * stretch your calves before stretching your hamstrings

    * stretch your shins before stretching your quadriceps (if you do shin

    * stretch your arms before stretching your chest

    Section: 4.9 When to Stretch

    The best time to stretch is when your muscles are warmed up. If they are
    not already warm before you wish to stretch, then you need to warm them up
    yourself, usually by performing some type of brief aerobic activity (see
    Section 4.1.1 [General Warm-Up]). Obviously, stretching is an important
    part of warming-up before (see Section 4.1 [Warming Up]), and cooling-down
    after a workout (see Section 4.2 [Cooling Down]). If the weather is very
    cold, or if you are feeling very stiff, then you need to take extra care to
    warm-up before you stretch in order to reduce the risk of injuring yourself.

    Many of us have our own internal body-clock, or "circadian rhythm" as, it
    is more formally called: Some of us are "early morning people" while others
    consider themselves to be "late-nighters". Being aware of your circadian
    rhythm should help you decide when it is best for you to stretch (or
    perform any other type of activity). Gummerson says that most people are
    more flexible in the afternoon than in the morning, peaking from about
    2:30pm-4pm. Also, according to `HFLTA', evidence seems to suggest that,
    during any given day, strength and flexibility are at their peak in the
    late afternoon or early evening. If this is correct then it would seem to
    indicate that, all else being equal, you may be better off performing your
    workout right after work rather than before work.

    Section: 4.9.1 Early-Morning Stretching

    On the other hand, according to Kurz, "if you need [or want] to perform
    movements requiring considerable flexibility with [little or] no warm-up,
    you ought to make early morning stretching a part of your routine." In
    order to do this properly, you need to first perform a general warm-up (see
    Section 4.1.1 [General Warm-Up]). You should then begin your early morning
    stretching by first performing some static stretches, followed by some
    light dynamic stretches. Basically, your early morning stretching regimen
    should be almost identical to a complete warm-up (see Section 4.1 [Warming
    Up]). The only difference is that you may wish to omit any sport-specific
    activity (see Section 4.1.3 [Sport-Specific Activity]), although it may be
    beneficial to perform it *if* you have time.

    Section: 4.10 Stretching With a Partner

    When done properly, stretches performed with the assistance of a partner
    can be more effective than stretches performed without a partner. This is
    especially true of isometric stretches (see Section 3.6 [Isometric
    Stretching]) and PNF stretches (see Section 3.7 [PNF Stretching]). The
    problem with using a partner, however, is that the partner does not feel
    what you feel, and thus cannot respond as quickly to any discomfort that
    might prompt you to immediately reduce the intensity (or some other aspect)
    of the stretch. This can greatly increase your risk of injury while
    performing a particular exercise.

    If you do choose to stretch with a partner, make sure that it is someone
    you trust to pay close attention to you while you stretch, and to act
    appropriately when you signal that you are feeling pain or discomfort.

    Section: 4.11 Stretching to Increase Flexibility

    When stretching for the purpose of increasing overall flexibility, a
    stretching routine should accomplish, at the very least, two goals:

    1. To train your stretch receptors to become accustomed to greater muscle
    length (see Section 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]).

    2. To reduce the resistance of connective tissues to muscle elongation
    (see Section 2.2.1 [How Connective Tissue Affects Flexibility]).

    If you are attempting to increase active flexibility (see Section 2.1
    [Types of Flexibility]), you will also want to strengthen the muscles
    responsible for holding the stretched limbs in their extended positions.

    Before composing a particular stretching routine, you must first decide
    which types of flexibility you wish to increase (see Section 2.1 [Types of
    Flexibility]), and which stretching methods are best for achieving them
    (see Section 3 [Types of Stretching]). The best way to increase dynamic
    flexibility is by performing dynamic stretches, supplemented with static
    stretches. The best way to increase active flexibility is by performing
    active stretches, supplemented with static stretches. The fastest and most
    effective way currently known to increase passive flexibility is by
    performing PNF stretches (see Section 3.7 [PNF Stretching]).

    If you are very serious about increasing overall flexibility, then I
    recommend religiously adhering to the following guidelines:

    * Perform early-morning stretching everyday (see Section 4.9.1
    [Early-Morning Stretching]).

    * Warm-up properly before any and all athletic activities. Make sure to
    give yourself ample time to perform the complete warm-up. See Section
    4.1 [Warming Up].

    * Cool-down properly after any and all athletic activities. See Section
    4.2 [Cooling Down].

    * Always make sure your muscles are warmed-up before you stretch!

    * Perform PNF stretching every other day, and static stretching on the
    off days (if you are overzealous, you can try static stretching every
    day, in addition to PNF stretching every other day).

    Overall, you should expect to increase flexibility *gradually*. However,
    If you really commit to doing the above, you should (according to
    `SynerStretch') achieve maximal upper-body flexibility within one month and
    maximal lower-body flexibility within two months. If you are older or more
    inflexible than most people, it will take longer than this.

    Don't try to increase flexibility too quickly by forcing yourself. Stretch
    no further than the muscles will go *without pain*. See Section 4.12.3

    Section: 4.12 Pain and Discomfort

    If you are experiencing pain or discomfort before, during, or after
    stretching or athletic activity, then you need to try to identify the
    cause. Severe pain (particularly in the joints, ligaments, or tendons)
    usually indicates a serious injury of some sort, and you may need to
    discontinue stretching and/or exercising until you have sufficiently

    Section: 4.12.1 Common Causes of Muscular Soreness

    If you are experiencing soreness, stiffness, or some other form of muscular
    pain, then it may be due to one or more of the following:

    torn tissue
    Overstretching and engaging in athletic activities without a proper
    warm-up can cause microscopic tearing of muscle fibers or connective
    tissues. If the tear is not too severe, the pain will usually not
    appear until one or two days after the activity that caused the
    damage. If the pain occurs during or immediately after the activity,
    then it may indicate a more serious tear (which may require medical
    attention). If the pain is not too severe, then light, careful static
    stretching of the injured area is supposedly okay to perform (see
    Section 3.5 [Static Stretching]). It is hypothesized that torn fibers
    heal at a shortened length, thus decreasing flexibility in the injured
    muscles. Very light stretching of the injured muscles helps reduce
    loss of flexibility resulting from the injury. Intense stretching of
    any kind, however, may only make matters worse.

    metabolic accumulation
    Overexertion and/or intense muscular activity will fatigue the muscles
    and cause them to accumulate lactic acid and other waste products. If
    this is the cause of your pain, then static stretching (see Section
    3.5 [Static Stretching]), isometric stretching (see Section 3.6
    [Isometric Stretching]), or a good warm-up (see Section 4.1 [Warming
    Up]) or cool-down (see Section 4.2 [Cooling Down]) will help alleviate
    some of the soreness. See Section 2.3.1 [Why Bodybuilders Should
    Stretch]. Massaging the sore muscles may also help relieve the pain
    (see Section 4.3 [Massage]). It has also been claimed that supplements
    of vitamin C will help alleviate this type of pain, but controlled
    tests using placebos have been unable to lend credibility to this
    hypothesis. The ingestion of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) before
    athletic activity has been shown to help increase the body's buffering
    capacity and reduce the output of lactic acid. However, it can also
    cause urgent diarrhea.

    muscle spasms
    Exercising above a certain threshold can cause a decreased flow of
    blood to the active muscles. This can cause pain resulting in a
    protective reflex which contracts the muscle isotonically (see Section
    1.5 [Types of Muscle Contractions]). The reflex contraction causes
    further decreases in blood flow, which causes more reflex contractions,
    and so on, causing the muscle to spasm by repeatedly contracting. One
    common example of this is a painful muscle cramp. Immediate static
    stretching of the cramped muscle can be helpful in relieving this type
    of pain. However, it can sometimes make things worse by activating the
    stretch reflex (see Section 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]), which may
    cause further muscle contractions. Massaging the cramped muscle (and
    trying to relax it) may prove more useful than stretching in relieving
    this type of pain (see Section 4.3 [Massage]).

    Section: 4.12.2 Stretching with Pain

    If you are already experiencing some type of pain or discomfort before you
    begin stretching, then it is very important that you determine the cause of
    your pain (see Section 4.12.1 [Common Causes of Muscular Soreness]). Once
    you have determined the cause of the pain, you are in a better position to
    decide whether or not you should attempt to stretch the affected area.

    Also, according to M. Alter, it is important to remember that some amount
    of soreness will almost always be experienced by individuals that have not
    stretched or exercised much in the last few months (this is the price you
    pay for being inactive). However, well-trained and conditioned athletes who
    work-out at elevated levels of intensity or difficulty can also become
    sore. You should cease exercising immediately if you feel or hear anything
    tearing or popping. Remember the acronym "RICE" when caring for an injured
    body part. RICE stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This will
    help to minimize the pain and swelling. You should then seek appropriate
    professional medical advice.

    Section: 4.12.3 Overstretching

    If you stretch properly, you should *not* be sore the day after you have
    stretched. If you are, then it may be an indication that you are
    overstretching and that you need to go easier on your muscles by reducing
    the intensity of some (or all) of the stretches you perform.
    Overstretching will simply increase the time it takes for you to gain
    greater flexibility. This is because it takes time for the damaged muscles
    to repair themselves, and to offer you the same flexibility as before they
    were injured.

    One of the easiest ways to "overstretch" is to stretch "cold" (without any
    warm-up). A "maximal cold stretch" is not necessarily a desirable thing.
    Just because a muscle can be moved to its limit without warming up doesn't
    mean it is ready for the strain that a workout will place on it.

    Obviously, during a stretch (even when you stretch properly) you are going
    to feel some amount of discomfort. The difficulty is being able to discern
    when it is too much. In her book, `Stretch and Strengthen', Judy Alter
    describes what she calls "ouch! pain": If you feel like saying "ouch!" (or
    perhaps something even more explicit) then you should ease up immediately
    and discontinue the stretch. You should definitely feel the tension in your
    muscle, and perhaps even light, gradual "pins and needles", but if it
    becomes sudden, sharp, or uncomfortable, then you are overdoing it and are
    probably tearing some muscle tissue (or worse). In some cases, you may
    follow all of these guidelines when you stretch, feeling that you are not
    in any "real" pain, but still be sore the next day. If this is the case,
    then you will need to become accustomed to stretching with less discomfort
    (you might be one of those "stretching masochists" that take great pleasure
    in the pain that comes from stretching).

    Quite frequently, the progression of sensations you feel as you reach the
    extreme ranges of a stretch are: localized warmth of the stretched muscles,
    followed by a burning (or spasm-like) sensation, followed by sharp pain (or
    "ouch!" pain). The localized warming will usually occur at the origin, or
    point of insertion, of the stretched muscles. When you begin to feel this,
    it is your first clue that you may need to "back off" and reduce the
    intensity of the stretch. If you ignore (or do not feel) the warming
    sensation, and you proceed to the point where you feel a definite burning
    sensation in the stretched muscles, then you should ease up immediately and
    discontinue the stretch! You may not be sore yet, but you probably will be
    the following day. If your stretch gets to the point where you feel sharp
    pain, it is quite likely that the stretch has already resulted in tissue
    damage which may cause immediate pain and soreness that persists for
    several days.

    Section: 4.13 Performing Splits

    A lot of people seem to desire the ability to perform splits. If you are
    one such person, you should first ask yourself why you want to be able to
    perform the splits. If the answer is "So I can kick high!" or something
    along those lines, then being able to "do" the splits may not be as much
    help as you think it might be in achieving your goal. Doing a full split
    looks impressive, and a lot of people seem to use it as a benchmark of
    flexibility, but it will not, in and of itself, enable you to kick high.
    Kicking high requires dynamic flexibility (and, to some extent, active
    flexibility) whereas the splits requires passive flexibility. You need to
    discern what type of flexibility will help to achieve your goal (see
    Section 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]), and then perform the types of
    stretching exercises that will help you achieve that specific type of
    flexibility. See Section 3 [Types of Stretching].

    If your goal really is "to be able to perform splits" (or to achieve
    maximal lower-body static-passive flexibility), and assuming that you
    already have the required range of motion in the hip joints to even do the
    splits (most people in reasonably good health without any hip problems do),
    you will need to be patient. Everyone is built differently and so the
    amount of time it will take to achieve splits will be different for
    different people (although `SynerStretch' suggests that it should take
    about two months of regular PNF stretching for most people to achieve their
    maximum split potential). The amount of time it takes will depend on your
    previous flexibility and body makeup. Anyone will see improvements in
    flexibility within weeks with consistent, frequent, and proper stretching.
    Trust your own body, take it gently, and stretch often. Try not to dwell
    on the splits, concentrate more on the stretch. Also, physiological
    differences in body mechanics may not allow you to be very flexible. If
    so, take that into consideration when working out.

    A stretching routine tailored to the purpose of achieving the ability to
    perform splits may be found at the end of this document. See Section
    Appendix B [Working Toward the Splits].

    Section: 4.13.1 Common Problems When Performing Splits

    First of all, there are two kinds of splits: front and side (the side split
    is often called a "chinese split"). In a Front split, you have one leg
    stretched out to the front and the other leg stretched out to the back. In
    a side split, both legs are stretched out to your side.

    A common problem encountered during a side split is pain in the hip joints.
    Usually, the reason for this is that the split is being performed
    improperly (you may need to tilt your pelvis forward).

    Another common problem encountered during splits (both front and side) is
    pain in the knees. This pain can often (but not always) be alleviated by
    performing a slightly different variation of the split. See Section 4.13.2
    [The Front Split]. See Section 4.13.3 [The Side Split].

    Section: 4.13.2 The Front Split

    For front splits, the front leg should be straight and its kneecap should
    be facing the ceiling, or sky. The front foot can be pointed or flexed
    (there will be a greater stretch in the front hamstring if the front foot
    is flexed). The kneecap of the back leg should either be facing the floor
    (which puts more of a stretch on the quadriceps and psoas muscles), or out
    to the side (which puts more of a stretch on the inner-thigh (groin)
    muscles). If it is facing the floor, then it will probably be pretty hard
    to flex the back foot, since its instep should be on the floor. If the back
    kneecap is facing the side, then your back foot should be stretched out
    (not flexed) with its toes pointed to reduce undue stress upon the knee.
    Even with the toes of the back foot pointed, you may still feel that there
    is to much stress on your back knee (in which case you should make it face
    the floor).

    Section: 4.13.3 The Side Split

    For side splits, you can either have both kneecaps (and insteps) facing the
    ceiling, which puts more of a stretch on the hamstrings, or you can have
    both kneecaps (and insteps) face the front, which puts more of a stretch on
    the inner-thigh (groin) muscle. The latter position puts more stress on the
    knee joints and may cause pain in the knees for some people. If you perform
    side splits with both kneecaps (and insteps) facing the front then you
    *must* be sure to tilt your pelvis forward (push your buttocks to the rear)
    or you may experience pain in your hip joints.

    Section: 4.13.4 Split-Stretching Machines

    Many of you may have seen an advertisement for a "split-stretching" machine
    in your favorite exercise/athletic magazine. These machines look like
    "benches with wings". They have a padded section upon which to sit, and two
    padded sections in which to place your legs (the machine should ensure that
    no pressure is applied upon the knees). The machine functions by allowing
    you to gradually increase the "stretch" in your adductors (inner-thigh
    muscles) through manual adjustments which increase the degree of the angle
    between the legs. Such machines usually carry a hefty price tag, often in
    excess of $100 (American currency).

    A common question people ask about these machines is "are they worth the
    price?". The answer to that question is entirely subjective. Although the
    machine can certainly be of valuable assistance in helping you achieve the
    goal of performing a side-split, it is not necessarily any better (or
    safer) than using a partner while you stretch. The main advantage that
    these machines have over using a partner is that they give you (not your
    partner) control of the intensity of the stretch. The amount of control
    provided depends on the individual machine.

    One problem with these "split-stretchers" is that there is a common
    tendency to use them to "force" a split (which can often result in injury)
    and/or to hold the "split" position for far longer periods of time than is

    The most effective use of a split-stretching machine is to use it as your
    "partner" to provide resistance for PNF stretches for the groin and inner
    thigh areas (see Section 3.7 [PNF Stretching]). When used properly,
    "split-stretchers" can provide one of the best ways to stretch your groin
    and inner-thighs without the use of a partner.

    However, they do cost quite a bit of money and they don't necessarily give
    you a better stretch than a partner could. If you don't want to "cough-up"
    the money for one of these machines, I recommend that you either use a
    partner and/or perform the lying `V' stretch described later on in this
    document (see Section Appendix B [Working Toward the Splits]).

    Section: Appendix A References on Stretching

    I don't know if these are *all* good, but I am aware of the following books
    and videotapes about stretching:

    `Stretch and Strengthen', by Judy Alter
    Softcover, Houghton Mifflin Company (Publishers) 1986, 241 pages
    $12.95 (US), ISBN: 0-395-52808-9
    (also by Judy Alter: `Surviving Exercise',
    Softcover, Houghton Mifflin 1983, 127 pages, ISBN: 0-395-50073-7)

    `Sport Stretch', by Michael J. Alter
    Softcover, Leisure Press (Publisher) 1990, 168 pages
    $15.95 (US), ISBN: 0-88011-381-2
    Leisure Press is a division of Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
    in Champaign, IL and may be reached by phone at 1-800-747-4457

    `Science of Stretching', by Michael J. Alter
    Clothcover, Leisure Press (Publisher) 1988, 256 pages
    $35.00 (US), ISBN: 0-97322-090-0

    `Stretching', by Bob Anderson (Illustrated by Jean Anderson)
    Softcover, Random House (Publisher) $9.95 (US), ISBN: 0-394-73874-8

    `Stretching For All Sports', by John E. Beaulieu
    Athletic Press 1980, Pasadena, CA

    `Stretching Without Pain', by W. Paul Blakey
    Softcover, Bibliotek Books (Publishers) 1994, 78 pages
    $14.99 (US), ISBN: 1 896238 00 9

    `The Muscle Book', by W. Paul Blakey
    Softcover, Bibliotek Books (Publishers) 1992, 48 pages
    $10.99 (US), ISBN: 1 873017 00 6

    `Health & Fitness Excellence: The Scientific Action Plan',
    by Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D.
    Softcover, Houghton Mifflin Company (Publishers) 1989, 541 pages
    $12.95 (US), ISBN 0-395-54453-X

    `Stretching for Athletics', by Pat Croce (2nd edition)
    Softcover, Leisure Press (Publisher) 1984, 128 pages
    $11.95 (US), ISBN: 0-88011-119-4

    `ExTension: The 20-minutes-a-day, Yoga-Based Program to Relax, Release,
    and Rejuvenate the Average Stressed-Out over-35-year-old body',
    by Sam Dworkis with Peg Moline
    Softcover, Poseidon Press (Publisher) 1994, 192 pages
    $20 (US), ISBN: 0-671-86680-X

    `Jean Frenette's Complete Guide to Stretching', by Jean Frenette
    Softcover, $10.95 (US), ISBN: 0-86568-145-7
    (also by Jean Frenette, `Beyond Kicking: A Complete Guide to
    Kicking and Stretching', $12.95 (US), ISBN: 0-86568-154-6)

    `Mobility Training for the Martial Arts', by Tony Gummerson
    Softcover, A&C Black (Publishers) 1990, 96 pages
    $15.95 (US), ISBN: 0 7136 3264 X

    `SynerStretch For Total Body Flexibility', from Health For Life
    Softcover, 1984, 29 pages, $11.95 (US), ISBN: 0-944831-05-2
    (A videotape which is an updated version of this same course
    is also available for $39.95 (US))
    HFL can be reached by phone at 1-800-874-5339

    `Staying Supple: The Bountiful Pleasures of Stretching', by John Jerome
    Softcover, Bantam Books 1987, 151 pages
    ISBN: 0-553-34429-3

    `Light on Yoga', by B. K. S. Iyengar
    NY Schocken Books 1979, 544 pages
    $18 (US), ISBN: 0-8052-1031-8

    `Light on Pranayama', by B. K. S. Iyengar
    Crossroad Publishers 1985, 200 pages
    ISBN: 0-8245-0686-3

    `Ultimate Fitness through Martial Arts', by Sang H. Kim
    [ chapter 8 (pages 147-192) is devoted to flexibility ]
    Softcover, Turtle Press (Publishers) 1993, 266 pages
    $16.95 (US), ISBN: 1-880336-02-2
    (This book and other items may be ordered from Turtle Press by calling
    1-800-77-TURTL in the United States)

    `Stretching Scientifically : a Guide to Flexibility Training', by Tom Kurz
    3rd edition, completely revised
    Softcover, Stadion (Publisher) 1994, 147 pages
    $18.95 (US), ISBN: 0-940149-30-3
    (also by Tom Kurz: `Science of Sports Training',
    $26.95-Softcover, $39.95-Hardcover)
    (A Videotape entitled `Tom Kurz' Secrets of Stretching'
    is also available from Stadion for $49.95 (US)).
    Stadion can be reached by phone at 1-800-873-7117

    `Beyond Splits (Volume I and Volume II)', by Marco Lala
    Videotapes available from Marco Lala Karate Academy,
    P.O. Box 979, Yonkers, NY USA 10704
    the tapes are $39.95 each (Vol.I and Vol.II are separate tapes)

    `Facilitated Stretching: PNF Stretching Made Easy', by Robert E. McAtee
    Softcover, Human Kinetics Publishers 1993, 96 pages
    $16.00 (US), ISBN: 0-87322-420-5

    `The Woman's Stretching Book', by Susan L. Peterson
    Softcover, Leisure Press (Publisher) 1983, 112 pages
    $11.95 (US), ISBN: 0-88011-095-3

    `The Health For Life Training Advisor', edited by Andrew T. Shields
    Softcover, Health for Life 1990, 320 pages
    $29.95 (US), ISBN: 0-944831-22-2

    `Yoga the Iyengar Way', by Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta
    Knopf Publishers
    $20 (US), ISBN: 0-679-72287-4.

    `Stretch!', by Ann Smith
    Acropolis Books 1979

    `The Book About Stretching', by Dr. Sven-A Solveborn, M.D.
    Japan Publications, 1985

    `Stretching the Quick and Easy Way', by Sternad & Bozdech
    Softcover, $9.95 (US), ISBN: 0-8069-8434-1

    `Complete Stretching', by Maxine Tobias and John Patrick Sullivan
    Softcover, Knopf (Publisher), $17.95 (US), ISBN: 0-679-73831-2
    (also by Maxine Tobias: `Stretch and Relax')

    Section: A.1 Recommendations

    My best recommendations are for `Sport Stretch' and `Stretching
    Scientifically', followed by `Health & Fitness Excellence', `SynerStretch',
    or `Stretch and Strengthen'. `Mobility Training for the Martial Arts' also
    has quite a bit of valuable information and stretches. `The Health for
    Life Training Advisor' has a *lot* of information about stretching and
    muscle physiology, but it is not strictly about stretching and contains a
    *ton* of other information about all aspects of athletic training and
    performance (which I find to be invaluable). If you don't want to get into
    too much technical detail and are looking for a quick but informative read,
    then I recommend `Stretching Without Pain'. If you really want to delve
    into all the technical aspects of stretching, including physiology,
    neurophysiology, and functional anatomy, then you must get `Science of
    Stretching'. If you want to know more about PNF stretching, then
    `Facilitated Stretching' is the book to get. If you are looking for yoga
    or active stretches you simply must take a look at `ExTension' (also your
    local library probably has quite a few books and/or videotapes of yoga
    exercises). If you want to know more about muscle anatomy and physiology
    but don't have a lot of technical interest or background in those two
    fields, `The Muscle Book' is highly recommended.

    Many of the other books don't have as much detail about stretching and what
    happens to your muscles during a particular stretch, they just present (and
    illustrate) a variety of different exercises. Also, most of the stretches
    presented in these books are to be performed alone. `Sport Stretch',
    `SynerStretch' (both the videotape and the book), and `Mobility Training
    for the Martial Arts' present stretches that you can perform with the
    assistance of a partner.

    In general, `Health For Life' (also known as `HFL') and `Human Kinetics
    Publishers' have a tremendously wide variety of technical, no-nonsense,
    exercise related books and videotapes. I would highly recommend contacting
    both organizations and asking for their free catalogs:

    Human Kinetics Publishers
    1607 North Market Street
    P.O. Box 5076
    Champaign, IL USA 61825-5076
    1-800-747-4457 (US)
    1-800-465-7301 (Canada)

    Health For Life
    8033 Sunset Blvd., Suite 483
    Los Angeles, CA USA 90046

    Section: A.2 Additional Comments

    Here is a little more information about some of the references (I haven't
    actually read or seen all of them so I can't comment on all of them):

    `Sport Stretch'
    This book has a very thorough section on all the details about how
    stretching works and what different stretching methods to use. It also
    contains over 300 illustrated stretches as well as various stretching
    programs for 26 different sports and recreational activities. Each
    stretching program takes about 20 minutes and illustrates the 12 best
    stretches for that activity. In my humble opinion, this is the most
    complete book I was able to find on the subject of stretching (however,
    `Science of Stretching', by the same author, is even more
    comprehensive). Some of you may prefer Kurz' book to this one, however,
    since it is more devoted to increasing flexibility.

    `Science of Stretching'
    This book explains the scientific basis of stretching and discusses
    physiology, neurophysiology, mechanics, and psychology as they all
    relate to stretching. The book makes thorough use of illustrations,
    charts, diagrams, and figures, and discusses each of its topics in
    great detail. It then presents guidelines for developing a flexibility
    program, including over 200 stretching exercises and warm-up drills.
    I suppose you could think of this book as a "graduate-level version"
    of `Sport Stretch'.

    `Stretching Scientifically'
    This is an excellent book that goes into excruciating detail on just
    about everything you want to know about stretching. It also contains a
    variety of stretches and stretching programs and is geared towards
    achieving maximal flexibility in the shortest possible amount of time.
    The only problem I found in this book is that some of the discussion
    gets very technical without giving the reader (in my opinion)
    sufficient background to fully understand what is being said. I
    believe that `Sport Stretch' does a better job of explaining things in
    a more comprehensible (easily understood) fashion.

    `Facilitated Stretching'
    Most of the reading material that is devoted to PNF stretching is
    highly technical. This book attempts to break that trend. It tries to
    explain the history and principles of PNF without getting too
    technical, and shows how to perform PNF techniques that are
    appropriate for healthy people (complete with illustrations and
    easy-to-follow instructions). This book also contains a chapter which
    discusses the role of PNF techniques during injury rehabilitation.
    According to the publisher:

    The stretches in `Facilitated Stretching' are known as CRAC
    (contract-relax, antagonist-contract) stretches. CRAC stretches
    are the safest PNF stretches because there is no passive movement
    - the athlete performs all of the stretching. `Facilitated
    Stretching' contains 29 CRAC stretches, which address most of the
    major muscle groups: 18 are single-muscle stretches, and 11 use
    the spiral-diagonal patterns that are the heart of PNF
    stretching. Once readers have learned these stretching
    techniques, they will be able to design additional stretches for
    almost any muscle or muscle group. The book also features many
    self-stretching techniques that athletes can use to maintain their
    gains in range of motion.

    This is a "course" from HFL which claims that you can achieve "total
    body flexibility in just 8 minutes a day." It explains and presents two
    excellent stretching routines: one for increasing flexibility and one
    for maintaining flexibility. It was the only work that I found which
    discusses the importance of performing certain stretches in a
    particular order. It is important to note that there is a significant
    difference between the printed and videotape versions of this course
    (aside from price): The printed version has a much more thorough
    discussion of theory, exercise selection, and exercise order; whereas
    the stretching routines presented in the videotape are better
    explained, and more "up to date".

    `Stretch and Strengthen'
    This is very good, but the author makes a few mistakes in some places
    (in particular, she seems to equate the stretch reflex, reciprocal
    inhibition, and PNF with one another). The book is devoted to static
    stretching and to performing strengthening exercises of the muscles
    stretched. Each exercise explains what to do, what not to do, and why.
    There is also a separate section for diagnosing and correcting some
    problems that you may encounter during a particular stretch.

    `Health & Fitness Excellence'
    Simply put, this is one of the best books available on overall health
    and fitness. It has two chapters devoted to flexibility training that
    explain and provide several static and PNF stretches (although it
    refers to the PNF stretches as "tighten-relax" stretches). This is
    *not* a "fad" book! It uses sound, proven, scientific principles and
    research (explained in simple terms) to present programs for: reducing
    stress, strength and flexibility training, nutritional wellness, body
    fat control, postural vitality, rejuvenation and living environments
    design, and mind and life unity. I highly recommend this book.

    This is a fantastic book of yoga exercises. Each exercise is very well
    explained along with instructions on what to do if you don't seem to
    feel the stretch, or think you are feeling it in the wrong place. It is
    chock-full of useful information and is very well written.

    `Stretching Without Pain'
    The author, W. Paul Blakey, is a practicing Osteopath, and former
    international ballet dancer. The book is very similar in format and
    content to this document, only it has well over a hundred
    illustrations, and also covers some additional material not found in
    this document (such as mental and emotional aspects to stretching and
    "stretching warzones"). It is one of the best quick, easy, and
    up-to-date stretching introductions that you will find. I can't think
    of any other book that is under a hundred pages that covers as much as
    this book does (including isometric and PNF stretches). For more
    information about this book, contact Twin Eagles Educational and
    Healing Institute at `'. You can
    also reach the author by e-mail at `'.

    `The Muscle Book'
    The author, Paul Blakey, is a practicing Osteopath, and former
    international ballet dancer. He has written and illustrated this book
    to help everyone who needs to know more about their own muscles, and
    how to look after them. The book clearly identifies the major surface
    muscles of the human body, and shows how they work. For each muscle
    there is straightforward information about first aid by massage, and an
    indication of particular dangers to watch for. All students of
    physique, and in particular dancers and gymnasts should find this book
    useful. For more information about this book, contact Twin Eagles
    Educational and Healing Institute at
    `'. You can also reach the author
    by e-mail at `'.

    `Mobility Training for the Martial Arts'
    This book is also quite good and quite comprehensive, but not as good
    (in my personal opinion) as `Sport Stretch' or `Stretching

    `Staying Supple'
    This book is a little old but is wonderfully written (although it could
    be organized a bit better). It contains information at just about every
    level of detail about stretching, increasing and maintaining
    suppleness, and preventing the loss of suppleness. There is also a
    glossary of terms and concepts near the end of the book.

    A lot of people like this one. It presents a wide variety of stretches
    and stretching routines and does a good job of explaining each one. It
    does not go into too much detail about stretching other than just to
    present the various stretches and routines.

    Section: Appendix B Working Toward the Splits

    The following stretching routine is tailored specifically to the purpose of
    achieving the ability to perform both front splits and side splits. It
    consists of the following exercises:

    1. lower back stretches

    2. lying buttock stretch

    3. groin & inner-thigh stretch

    4. seated calf stretch

    5. seated hamstring stretch

    6. seated inner-thigh stretch

    7. psoas stretch

    8. quadricep stretch

    9. lying `V' stretch

    See Section 4.1.1 [General Warm-Up].

    *Warning:* This stretching routine contains exercises that, depending on
    your physical condition, may be hazardous to your health. Consult with your
    doctor before attempting any of these exercises. It is also important that
    you use great caution when performing these exercises since improper
    performance could result in injury.


    The details on how to perform each of the stretches are discussed in the
    following sections. Each section describes how to perform a passive
    stretch, and an isometric stretch, for a particular muscle group. On a
    given day, you should either perform only the passive stretches, or perform
    only the PNF stretches, in the order given (see Section 3 [Types of
    Stretching]). If you perform the PNF stretches, don't forget to rest 20
    seconds after each PNF stretch, and don't perform the same PNF stretch more
    than once per day (see Section 3.7 [PNF Stretching]). The isometric
    stretches described do not require the assistance of a partner, but you may
    certainly use a partner if you so desire. The order in which these
    exercises are performed is important because the entire routine attempts to
    employ the principle of synergism by stretching a muscle fully before using
    that muscle as a "supporting muscle" in another stretch (see Section 4.8
    [Exercise Order]).

    As with all stretches, you should *not* stretch to the point of intense
    pain! A tolerable amount of discomfort should be more than sufficient. You
    do *not* want to pull (or tear) your muscles, or be very sore the next day.

    Section: B.1 lower back stretches

    These stretches work mostly the lower back, but also make some demands on
    your abdominals, and your external obliques (sides).

    Lying down with your back on the floor, straighten one leg, while bending
    the knee of the other leg, and try to bring the thigh of your bent leg as
    close as possible to your chest. Hold it there for 10-15 seconds. Then
    cross your bent leg over your straight leg and try to touch your knee to
    the floor (while trying to keep both shoulders on the ground). Repeat this
    same procedure with the other leg. Then, bend both knees and bring both
    thighs up against your chest (keeping your back on the floor). Hold that
    for 10-15 seconds. Then, put both feet on the ground but keep the knees
    bent. While trying to keep both shoulders on the ground, roll your legs
    over to one side and try to get your knees to touch the floor beside you.
    Hold for about 10-15 seconds and then do the same thing on the other side.
    Now repeat the same stretch, but this time begin with your feet off the
    floor so that your leg is bent at the knee at about a 90 degree angle.

    As for isometric stretches for the back, I don't recommend them.

    Section: B.2 lying buttock stretch

    This mainly stretches your buttocks (gluteal muscles) but also makes some
    demands on your groin and upper inner-thigh area. You must be very careful
    *not* to apply any stress to the knee joint when performing this stretch.
    Otherwise, serious injury (such as the tearing of cartilage) may occur.

    Lie on your back again with both knees bent and in the air and with your
    feet on the floor. Take your right foot in your left hand (with your hand
    wrapping under your foot so that the fingertips are on its outside edge)
    and hold your leg (with your knee bent) in the air about 1-3 feet above
    your left breast (relax, we haven't started to stretch the buttocks just
    yet). The leg you are holding should be in much the same position as it is
    when you start your groin stretch in the next exercise, only now it is in
    the air because you are on your back (see Section B.3 [groin and
    inner-thigh stretch]). Exhale and slowly pull your foot over to the side
    and up (toward your head) as if you were trying to touch your outstretched
    leg about 12 inches to the outside of your left shoulder. You should feel a
    good stretch in your buttocks about now. If you feel any stress at all on
    your knee then stop at once. You are probably pulling "up" too much and not
    enough to the side. You may wish to use your free hand to support your knee
    in some way. Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds (and stop if you feel
    any stress in the knee joint). Now repeat this same stretch with the other
    leg (using the other hand). Remember that the leg you are *not* holding
    should have the sole of its foot on the floor with the knee bent and in the

    To make an isometric stretch out of this, when you are performing the
    passive stretch (above) and feel the stretch in your buttocks, continue
    trying to pull your foot to the outside of your shoulder while at the same
    time resisting with your leg so that it pushes agains your hand. No actual
    leg motion should take place, just the resistance. Stop immediately if you
    feel any undue stress to your knee.

    Section: B.3 groin and inner-thigh stretch

    This mainly stretches your groin and upper inner-thigh area, but also makes
    some demands on your lower back. It is often called the "butterfly stretch"
    or "frog stretch" because of the shape that your legs make when you perform

    Sit down with your back straight up (don't slouch, you may want to put your
    back against a wall) and bend your legs, putting the soles of your feet
    together. Try to get your heels as close to your groin as is *comfortably*
    possible. Now that you are in the proper position, you are ready to
    stretch. For the passive stretch, push your knees to the floor as far as
    you can (you may use your hands to assist but do *not* resist with the
    knees) and then hold them there. *This can be hard on the knees so please
    be careful*. Once you have attained this position, keep your knees where
    they are, and then exhale as you bend over, trying to get your chest as
    close to the floor as possible. Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds.

    The isometric stretch is almost identical to the passive stretch, but
    before you bend over, place your hands on your ankles and your elbows in
    the crooks of your knees. As you bend over, use your elbows to "force" your
    knees closer to the floor while at the same time pushing "up" (away from
    the floor) with your thighs to resist against your arms. Once again, please
    be careful since this can place considerable strain on the knees.

    Section: B.4 seated leg stretches

    These include three different stretches performed for the calves,
    hamstrings, and inner-thighs, but they are all performed in very similar
    positions and I do all three stretches (in the order given) for one leg
    before performing them for the other leg. You will need an apparatus for
    this stretch: a bench, or a firm bed or couch (or you could use two chairs
    with your butt on one chair and the heel of your foot on the other) that is
    at least 12 inches off the ground (but not so high that you can't sit on it
    with out your knees bent and the sole of your foot solidly on the floor).
    The bench should be long enough to accommodate the full length of your leg.
    Sit on the bench and have your leg comfortably extended out in front of you
    (your heel should still be on the bench) and the other leg hanging out to
    the side with the leg bent and the foot flat on the ground.

    Section: B.4.1 seated calf stretch

    With your leg extended directly in front of you, face your leg and bend it
    slightly. Place your hands around the ball of your foot and gently pull
    back so that you force yourself to flex your foot as much as possible.
    Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds (don't forget to breathe).

    Now for the isometric stretch: in this same position, use your hands to try
    and force the ball (and toes) of your foot even further back toward you
    while at the same time using your calf muscles to try and straighten your
    foot and leg. You should be resisting enough with your hands so that no
    actual foot (or leg) motion takes place.

    Section: B.4.2 seated hamstring stretch

    Now that our calf is stretched, we can get a more effective hamstring
    stretch (since inflexibility in the calf can be a limiting factor in this
    hamstring stretch). Still sitting on the bench in the same position,
    straighten your leg out while trying to hold onto your outstretched leg
    with both hands on either side as close as possible to your heel. Starting
    up with your back straight, slowly exhale and try to bring your chest to
    the knee of your outstretched leg. You should feel a "hefty" stretch in
    your hamstring and even a considerable stretch in your calf (even though
    you just stretched it). Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds.

    Now for the isometric stretch: when you have gotten your chest as close as
    you can to your knee, try and put both hands under the bench by your heel
    (or both hands on opposite sides of your heel). Now grab on tight with
    your hands and try to physically push your heel (keeping your leg straight)
    downward "through" the bench, the bench will provide the necessary
    resistance, and should prevent any leg motion from occurring.

    Section: B.4.3 seated inner-thigh stretch

    You should still be sitting on the bench with your outstretched leg in
    front of you. Now turn on the bench so that your leg is outstretched to
    your side, and you are facing the leg that is bent. You may perform this
    next stretch with either your toe pointing up toward the ceiling or with
    the inside edge of your foot flat on the bench with your toe pointing
    forward (but flexed), or you may try this stretch both ways since you will
    stretch some slightly different (but many of the same) muscles either way.
    I prefer to keep my toe pointed towards the ceiling because I personally
    feel that the other way applies to much stress to my knee, but you can do
    whatever feels comfortable to you.

    *Note:* If you are using two chairs instead of a bench, the first thing you
    need to do is to make sure that one of the chairs supports your
    outstretched leg somewhere between the knee and the hip. If the support is
    being provided below the knee and you try to perform this stretch, there is
    a good chance that you will injure ligaments and/or cartilage.

    Place your hands underneath the bench directly under you (or you may keep
    one hand under the portion of the bench that is below the knee of your
    outstretched leg) and pull yourself down and forward (keeping your back
    straight) as if you were trying to touch your chest to the floor. You
    should be able to feel the stretch in your inner-thigh. Hold this for
    about 20 seconds.

    For the isometric stretch, do the same thing you did with the hamstring
    stretch: keep both hands underneath you as before and try to force your
    foot downward "through" the bench.

    Section: B.5 psoas stretch

    This stretch is sometimes called the "runner's start" because the position
    you are in resembles that of a sprinter at the starting block. It mainly
    stretches the psoas muscle located just above the top of the thigh.

    Crouch down on the floor with both hands and knees on the ground. Put one
    leg forward with your foot on the floor so that your front leg is bent at
    the knee at about a 90 degree angle. Now extend your rear leg in back of
    you so that it is almost completely straight (with just an ever so slight
    bend) and so that the weight of your rear leg is on the ball of your rear
    foot with the foot in a forced arch position. Now we are in the position to
    stretch (notice that your rear leg should be in pretty much the same
    position that it would assume if you were performing a front split).

    Keeping your back straight and in line with your rear thigh, exhale and
    slowly try to bring your chest down to the floor (you shouldn't need to
    bend much further than the line your front knee is on). You should feel
    the stretch primarily in the upper thigh of your rear leg but you should
    also feel some stretch in your front hamstring as well. Hold this position
    for at least 15 seconds. If you wish to also stretch your rear quadricep
    from this position, you can shift your weight back so that your rear leg
    makes a right angle with your knee pointing toward the floor (but don't let
    it touch the floor). Now, without bending your rear leg any further, try to
    force your rear knee straight down to the floor.

    Now repeat the same stretch(es) with your other leg in front.

    For an isometric stretch, you can do this same stretch in front of a wall
    and instead of putting your hands on the floor, put them in front of you
    against the wall and then push against the wall with the ball of your foot
    (without decreasing the "stretch" in your psoas).

    Section: B.6 quadricep stretch

    For this stretch you will need one (or two) pillows or soft cushions to
    place between your knee and the floor. You must be very careful when
    performing this stretch because it can be hard on the knees. Please be
    advised to take it easy (and not overdo) while performing this exercise.
    If you have problems with your knees, you may be better off *not*
    performing this stretch at all.

    Put the pillow under your rear knee and let your knee rest on the floor.
    Lift up your rear foot and grab onto your foot with the opposite hand (grab
    the instep if possible, but if you can only reach the heel, that is okay).
    If you have trouble grabbing your foot, then you may need to sit (or shift)
    back onto your rear leg so that you can grab it, and then shift forward
    into the starting position (with your hand now holding your foot). Now,
    exhale and very gently, but steadily, pull your foot toward its buttock
    (butt-cheek) and lean toward your front foot (you may also wish to twist
    your waist and trunk towards the foot you are holding). You should feel a
    tremendous stretch in the quadricep (top right thigh) of the foot that you
    are pulling. If you begin to feel stress in your knee, then discontinue
    the exercise (but let your foot down slowly - not all at once). Hold this
    stretch for about 15 seconds. When you are finished, shift your weight
    slowly back onto your rear leg and let your foot down while you are still
    holding onto it. Do not just let go and let your foot snap back to the
    ground - this is bad for your knee.

    Now for the isometric stretch: Get into the same position as for the
    passive quadricep stretch, but as you lean forward and pull on your foot,
    resist with the leg you are holding by trying to push your instep back down
    to the ground and out of the grip of your hand (but no actual movement
    should take place).

    Now do the same stretch with your other leg in front.

    Stop the stretch immediately if you feel pain or discomfort in your knee.

    Section: B.7 lying `V' stretch

    This stretch is very good for working toward a side (chinese) split (see
    Section 4.13.3 [The Side Split]). This exercise should be performed *after*
    you have stretched each of these areas individually with prior stretches
    (like the ones mentioned above).

    Start by lying down with your back flat on the ground and your legs
    straight together in the air at a 90 degree angle. Try to have your legs
    turned out so that your knees are facing the side walls more than they are
    facing your head. Slowly bring your legs down to the sides, keeping your
    legs straight and turned out. When you reach the point where you cannot
    bring them down any further into this "lying" side split position, leave
    them there.

    Now for the stretch: With your feet both flexed or both pointed (your
    choice) use your arms to reach in and grab your legs. Each arm should grab
    the leg on the same side. Try to get a hold of the leg between the ankle
    and the knee (right at the beginning portion of the calf that is closest to
    the ankle is almost perfect). Now, exhale and use your arms to gently but
    steadily force your legs down further and wider (keeping the legs straight)
    getting closer to the lying side-split position (where, ideally, your
    kneecaps would be "kissing" the floor). Hold this position and keep applying
    steady pressure with your arms for about 20 seconds.

    For the isometric stretch, you do the same thing as the passive stretch
    except that, as you use your arms to force your legs wider, use your inner
    and outer thigh muscles to try and force your legs back up together and
    straight (like a scissors closing), but apply enough resistance with your
    arms so that no motion takes place (this can be tough since your legs are
    usually stronger than your arms). You may find that you get a much better
    stretch if you use a partner (rather than your own arms) to apply the
    necessary resistance.

    Section: Appendix C Normal Ranges of Joint Motion

    According to Kurz, the following tables indicates the normal ranges of
    joint motion for various parts of the body:

    Section: C.1 Neck

    Flexion: 70-90 degrees
    Touch sternum with chin.

    Extension: 55 degrees
    Try to point up with chin.

    Lateral bending: 35 degrees
    Bring ear close to shoulder.

    Rotation: 70 degrees left & right
    Turn head to the left, then right.

    Section: C.2 Lumbar Spine

    Flexion: 75 degrees
    Bend forward at the waist.

    Extension: 30 degrees
    Bend backward.

    Lateral bending: 35 degrees
    Bend to the side.

    Section: C.3 Shoulder

    Abduction: 180 degrees
    Bring arm up sideways.

    Adduction: 45 degrees
    Bring arm toward the midline of the body.

    Horizontal extension: 45 degrees
    Swing arm horizontally backward.

    Horizontal flexion: 130 degrees
    Swing arm horizontally forward.

    Vertical extension: 60 degrees
    Raise arm straight backward.

    Vertical flexion: 180 degrees
    Raise arm straight forward.

    Section: C.4 Elbow

    Flexion: 150 degrees
    Bring lower arm to the biceps

    Extension: 180 degrees
    Straighten out lower arm.

    Supination: 90 degrees
    Turn lower arm so palm of hand faces up.

    Pronation: 90 degrees
    Turn lower arm so palm faces down.

    Section: C.5 Wrist

    Flexion: 80-90 degrees
    Bend wrist so palm nears lower arm.

    Extension: 70 degrees
    Bend wrist in opposite direction.

    Radial deviation: 20 degrees
    Bend wrist so thumb nears radius.

    Ulnar deviation: 30-50 degrees
    Bend wrist so pinky finger nears ulna.

    Section: C.6 Hip

    Flexion: 110-130 degrees
    Flex knee and bring thigh close to abdomen.

    Extension: 30 degrees
    Move thigh backward without moving the pelvis.

    Abduction: 45-50 degrees
    Swing thigh away from midline.

    Adduction: 20-30 degrees
    Bring thigh toward and across midline.

    Internal rotation: 40 degrees
    Flex knee and swing lower leg away from midline.

    External rotation: 45 degrees
    Flex knee and swing lower leg toward midline.

    Section: C.7 Knee

    Flexion: 130 degrees
    Touch calf to hamstring.

    Extension: 15 degrees
    Straighten out knee as much as possible.

    Internal rotation: 10 degrees
    Twist lower leg toward midline.

    Section: C.8 Ankle

    Flexion: 45 degrees
    Bend ankle so toes point up.

    Extension: 20 degrees
    Bend ankle so toes point down.

    Pronation: 30 degrees
    Turn foot so the sole faces in.

    Supination: 20 degrees
    Turn foot so the sole faces out.

    Section: Index

    * actin: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * active flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * active stretching: 3.3 [Active Stretching]
    * aerobic activity: [Aerobic Activity]
    * agonists: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * Alter, Judy: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Alter, Michael J. <1>: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Alter, Michael J.: [Acknowledgements]
    * Anderson, Bob: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * ankle, range of motion of: C.8 [Ankle]
    * antagonists: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * autogenic inhibition: 1.6.3 [The Lengthening Reaction]
    * ballistic PNF stretching: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * ballistic stretching: 3.1 [Ballistic Stretching]
    * Beaulieu, John E.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * benefits of stretching: 4 [How to Stretch]
    * Blakey, W. Paul: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * books on stretching: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * butterfly stretch: B.3 [groin and inner-thigh stretch]
    * chinese split: 4.13.1 [Common Problems When Performing Splits]
    * circadian rhythms: 4.9 [When to Stretch]
    * clasped-knife reflex: 1.6.3 [The Lengthening Reaction]
    * collagen: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * collagenous connective tissue: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * common stretching mistakes: 4 [How to Stretch]
    * concentric contraction: 1.5 [Types of Muscle Contractions]
    * connective tissue: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * contract-relax, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * contract-relax-antagonist-contract, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * contract-relax-bounce, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * contract-relax-contract, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * contract-relax-swing, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * contractile proteins: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * cooling down: 4.2 [Cooling Down]
    * Cooper, Robert K.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * counting during stretching: 4.6 [Duration, Counting, and Repetition]
    * CRAC, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * Croce, Pat: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * different types of flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * different types of stretching: 3 [Types of Stretching]
    * duration of a stretch: 4.6 [Duration, Counting, and Repetition]
    * Dworkis, Sam: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * dynamic flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * dynamic PNF stretching: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * dynamic stretching: 3.2 [Dynamic Stretching]
    * dynamic warm-up stretching: [Dynamic Warm-Up Stretching]
    * early-morning stretching: 4.9.1 [Early-Morning Stretching]
    * eccentric contraction: 1.5 [Types of Muscle Contractions]
    * elastic connective tissue: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * elastin: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * elbow, range of motion of: C.4 [Elbow]
    * endomysium: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * epimysium: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * extrafusal muscle fibers: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * fascia: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * fascial sheaths of muscle: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * fascicles: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * fasciculi: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * fast-twitch fibers: 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers]
    * fixators: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * flexibility: 2 [Flexibility]
    * flexibility, factors affecting: 2.2 [Factors Limiting Flexibility]
    * flexibility, limiting factors: 2.2 [Factors Limiting Flexibility]
    * Frenette, Jean: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * frog stretch: B.3 [groin and inner-thigh stretch]
    * front split: 4.13.1 [Common Problems When Performing Splits]
    * general warm-up: 4.1.1 [General Warm-Up]
    * golgi tendon organ: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * groin and inner-thigh stretch: B.3 [groin and inner-thigh stretch]
    * Gummerson, Tony <1>: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Gummerson, Tony: [Acknowledgements]
    * Health for Life <1>: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Health for Life: [Acknowledgements]
    * HFL <1>: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * HFL: [Acknowledgements]
    * hip, range of motion of: C.6 [Hip]
    * hold-relax, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * hold-relax-bounce, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * hold-relax-contract, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * hold-relax-swing, PNF stretching technique: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * innervate: 1.6.4 [Reciprocal Inhibition]
    * interdependency of muscle groups: 4.8 [Exercise Order]
    * intrafusal muscle fibers: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * inverse myotatic reflex: 1.6.3 [The Lengthening Reaction]
    * isolation offered by a stretch: 4.4.1 [Isolation]
    * isometric agonist contraction/relaxation: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * isometric antagonist contraction: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * isometric contraction: 1.5 [Types of Muscle Contractions]
    * isometric stretching: 3.6 [Isometric Stretching]
    * isotonic contraction: 1.5 [Types of Muscle Contractions]
    * Iyengar, B. K. S.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Jerome, John: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * joint rotations: [Joint Rotations]
    * joints: 1.1 [The Musculoskeletal System]
    * Kim, Sang H.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * kinetic flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * knee, range of motion of: C.7 [Knee]
    * Kurz, Tom <1>: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Kurz, Tom: [Acknowledgements]
    * Lala, Marco: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * lengthening reaction: 1.6.3 [The Lengthening Reaction]
    * leverage offered by a stretch: 4.4.2 [Leverage]
    * ligaments: 1.1 [The Musculoskeletal System]
    * limiting factors of flexibility: 2.2 [Factors Limiting Flexibility]
    * lower back stretches: B.1 [lower back stretches]
    * lumbar spine, range of motion of: C.2 [Lumbar Spine]
    * lying buttock stretch: B.2 [lying buttock stretch]
    * lying V stretch: B.7 [lying `V' stretch]
    * McAtee, Robert E.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * mechanoreceptors: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * Mehta, Shyam: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * metabolic accumulation: 4.12.1 [Common Causes of Muscular Soreness]
    * Mira: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * mitochondria: 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers]
    * mobility: 2.2 [Factors Limiting Flexibility]
    * mobility, factors affecting: 2.2 [Factors Limiting Flexibility]
    * mucopolysaccharide: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * muscle fibers: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * muscle spasms: 4.12.1 [Common Causes of Muscular Soreness]
    * muscle spindle: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * musculoskeletal system: 1.1 [The Musculoskeletal System]
    * myofilaments: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * myofybrils: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * myosin: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * myotatic reflex: 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]
    * neck, range of motion of: C.1 [Neck]
    * neuromuscular junction: 1.2.1 [How Muscles Contract]
    * neutralizers: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * nuclear bag fibers: [Components of the Stretch Reflex]
    * nuclear chain fibers: [Components of the Stretch Reflex]
    * pacinian corpuscles: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * passive flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * passive stretching: 3.4 [Passive Stretching]
    * perimysium: 1.3 [Connective Tissue]
    * Peterson, Susan L.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * plyometrics: 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]
    * PNF stretching: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * post-isometric relaxation techniques: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * prime movers: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * proprioception: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation: 3.7 [PNF Stretching]
    * proprioceptors: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * psoas stretch: B.5 [psoas stretch]
    * quadricep stretch: B.6 [quadricep stretch]
    * ranges of joint motion: Appendix C [Normal Ranges of Joint Motion]
    * reciprocal inhibition: 1.6.4 [Reciprocal Inhibition]
    * reciprocal innervation: 1.6.4 [Reciprocal Inhibition]
    * references on stretching: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * relaxed stretching: 3.4 [Passive Stretching]
    * relaxed warm-up stretching: [Static Warm-Up Stretching]
    * repetitions of a stretch: 4.6 [Duration, Counting, and Repetition]
    * respiratory pump: 4.7 [Breathing During Stretching]
    * risk of injury from a stretch: 4.4.3 [Risk]
    * runner's start: B.5 [psoas stretch]
    * sarcomeres: 1.2 [Muscle Composition]
    * seated calf stretch: B.4.1 [seated calf stretch]
    * seated hamstring stretch: B.4.2 [seated hamstring stretch]
    * seated inner-thigh stretch: B.4.3 [seated inner-thigh stretch]
    * seated leg stretches: B.4 [seated leg stretches]
    * Shields, Andrew T.: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * shoulder, range of motion of: C.3 [Shoulder]
    * side split: 4.13.1 [Common Problems When Performing Splits]
    * Silva: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * slow-twitch fibers: 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers]
    * Smith, Ann: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * Solveborn, Sven-A: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * split-stretching machines: 4.13.4 [Split-Stretching Machines]
    * sport-specific activity: 4.1.3 [Sport-Specific Activity]
    * stabilizers: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * static stretching: 3.5 [Static Stretching]
    * static warm-up stretching: [Static Warm-Up Stretching]
    * static-active flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * static-active stretching: 3.3 [Active Stretching]
    * static-passive flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * static-passive stretching: 3.4 [Passive Stretching]
    * Sternad & Bozdech: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * stretch receptors: 1.6.1 [Proprioceptors]
    * stretch reflex: 1.6.2 [The Stretch Reflex]
    * stretch reflex, dynamic component: [Components of the Stretch Reflex]
    * stretch reflex, static component: [Components of the Stretch Reflex]
    * Sullivan, John Patrick: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * synergism: 4.8 [Exercise Order]
    * synergists: 1.4 [Cooperating Muscle Groups]
    * tendons: 1.1 [The Musculoskeletal System]
    * Tobias, Maxine: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * torn tissue: 4.12.1 [Common Causes of Muscular Soreness]
    * Type 1 muscle fibers: 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers]
    * Type 2A muscle fibers: 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers]
    * Type 2B muscle fibers: 1.2.2 [Fast and Slow Muscle Fibers]
    * types of flexibility: 2.1 [Types of Flexibility]
    * types of stretching: 3 [Types of Stretching]
    * videotapes on stretching: Appendix A [References on Stretching]
    * warm-up stretching: 4.1.2 [Warm-Up Stretching]
    * warming down: 4.2 [Cooling Down]
    * warming up: 4.1 [Warming Up]
    * wrist, range of motion of: C.5 [Wrist]
  2. Josh

    Josh Staff Emeritus

    United States
    Damn, that's huge!:odd::eek:

    At least you weren't lying in the title of the thread. Heh.
  3. AE86Driver


    I'll be so glad when I get a page 2 on this topic,so I don't have to scroll ALLLLLLL the way down the page just to read a reply =P.:lol:

  4. SandStorm

    SandStorm (Banned)

    Don't post such long subjects, then. All it does is take up space on the GTP Boards that could be used for something else. Why not post a link to all the information instead?
  5. AE86Driver


    ummm,MAYBE because I can't post a link to something that's saved onto my computer?

  6. TingBoy


  7. Klostrophobic


    United States
    It isn't that big.

    LOLZ ^_^
  8. AE86Driver


    yeah,you're right..I should've made it bigger eh?:lol:

  9. SandStorm

    SandStorm (Banned)

    No you shouldn't've. If it's saved to your computer, why don't you take out the basic eseentials and discard the rest? :odd:
  10. AE86Driver


    I didn't wanna read that WHOLE thing and just take out the important parts 0_0,that would've took forever!I'm too lazy to do that anyway =P,hehe.


    P.S. nice avatar by the way ^_^
  11. Race Idiot

    Race Idiot (Banned)

    Uh, High five!

  12. AE86Driver


    riiiight..... 0_o

  13. SandStorm

    SandStorm (Banned)

    Why make us have to plow through the whole thing, then?
  14. hanker


    Is he really making you read it??
  15. rjensen11


    Isn't this violating some copyright issues?
  16. GilesGuthrie

    GilesGuthrie Staff Emeritus

    United Kingdom
    No. Look at the start:
    Everything's fine here, except for the spelling in the thread title, which I'll just amend...

  17. TurboSmoke


    getting back to the subject, i have competed at semi pro level in mtb over the past 5 years and there is NO evidence that stretching improves can reduce the risk of injury only by warming up but not to improve perforemance....
  18. craig


    ok, first off, what the heck is "semi pro level MTB"? stretching by itself dosn't improve performance, of course, but it does reduce the risk of injury during performance...i used to lift weights, and was developing back, knee, and neck problems that were affecting my job performance (i was working construction)...i bought a book called "power yoga", havn't lifted weights since, and, well, i don't have any back or knee problems anymore...i feel better, look better, what else do you want from an exercise program? i work at a shipyard, and theres all kinds of guys out here *****ing about there knees, crying that the shipyard is killing them, and all i can do is shake my head...
  19. rjensen11


    Ahh, okie dokie. Thanks for pointing that out, I didn't see it there...:banghead:
  20. TurboSmoke



    Scotland is a hotbed of cycling medalists in sydney i train in road and mtb with pro cyclists and i compete on an amateur (non ranking or points level) level...i train as hard and as much as any pro....semi pro is the best description i can find...

    see my post...thats what i have said

    cheers TS
  21. craig


    hey TS, you're serious about taking care of your body then, right? check out this book, it's called "power yoga", by beryl bender birch...she developed the program for the US Olympic Ski team, it's based on ashtangi yoga, and it's not easy, but it's rewarding on different levels (strengthens your mind and your body)...
  22. Concept

    Concept (Banned)

    It took me 24 minutes to read all of that.
  23. Josh

    Josh Staff Emeritus

    United States
    That means you can read 1011.4166 words per minute, or 16.856943 words per second.:odd:

    I have a pretty tough time believing that.
  24. Concept

    Concept (Banned)

    Sarcasm Josh. Sarcasm.
  25. Josh

    Josh Staff Emeritus

    United States
    I know Concept. I know.

    I knew I should've added the ":p" to the end of that last sentence.
  26. Concept

    Concept (Banned)

  27. TurboSmoke



    hmmmm craig....power yoga? whats so powerful about it?...

    no disrespect but i have a regime that works, i dont think yoga will give me what i need to keep me going after 3 hours in the rain soaked hills of Argyllshire...

    if you tell me where i can download a copy for free i'll give it a try...:)

    there are simply a million workout for cycling out there depending on your style, probably more for cycling than for any other sports since pro cyclist are the fittest sports people on the planet....

    i find training and working out takes a back seat these days with my work load....i used to do intervals 3 times a week, 50km on my turbo and 100km on the road/track in a sadly it about half that with me only going on the saddle 3 times a week....and i spend more time on my mtb than on my road bike and i just bought a brand new beautiful Italian hand made Pinarello (how sad is that)

    if yoga can free up some time in my schedule, i'll give it a try

    cheers craig :) :)