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Author: Cleaves M. Bennett MD FACP
Monday, January 07, 2008

Before you exercise you need to stretch your muscles. You've probably seen joggers stretching. It looks as though they’re leaning against a tree or a wall, trying to push it over. That kind of stretching (and there are various different stretching exercises) is very important to prevent injury.

So before you start to exercise, you should do some stretching for about five or ten minutes.

Stretch gently now, it doesn't need to hurt to be effective. Dr. Richard H. Dominguez, a sports medicine orthopedist in Illinois, has gotten a certain amount of notoriety because of his outspoken criticism of excessive stretching in runners. (The Physician and Sports Medicine 1982) He says, and I agree, "Take it easy when you stretch, and keep your joints from going much beyond their usual range of motion, their comfort zone." You can do more harm than good if you stretch too much. Some people are naturally and easily more flexible than others. If you're one of the stiffer ones, and you try to be a limber one, you can hurt yourself.

Stretching: 20th Anniversary by Bob and Jean Anderson is the newest version of their widely read and respected encyclopedia on the subject, first published in 1980. Hal Higdon, another jogging guru, discusses stretching on the Runner’s World website.

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