Stretching and Flexibility - References on Stretching

by Brad Appleton


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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)


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

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 Scientifically.
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.



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