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Old January 9, 1999, 11:42 PM   #12
Junior Member
Join Date: January 9, 1999
Posts: 13
I have to tell you, as a clinical psychologist, this sounds like a group session of some 12-step program. Not necessarily a bad thing either. 2 cents worth:
I had been a back sufferer since my early 20's, and had never been able to touch my toes with knees straight. I always thought my recurrent back injuries were the result of a "weak" back. After a vigorous workout in the gym one day, I was complaining to a fellow sitting in the sauna with me that I was determined to strengthen my back enough so that eventually my back wouldn't injure itself again. He said he was a chiropractor, and that most people have recurrent back injuries for a different reason. He explained that when I work out my back, I tighten the muscles in my back, and that when I don't stretch out frequently, I carry my back in a constant state of heightened tension. This means that the vertebrae are pulled closer to each other; hence, tightening the bones on either side of each disc (pad). Then, within the next day or two after strenuous exercise, I move in the wrong direction, and the discs are pinched or damaged. He explained that the problem most likely wasn't my back strength (or lack of it)as much as my inability to effectively stretch and relax the muscles after exercise. I assured him I stretched, and demonstrated the technique as I had been taught in high school football (you know, the old bounce down toward your toes). He pointed out that that is a "dymamic" stretch which is very in-effective, and showed me a much better, and simpler technique. A "passive" stretch which I have refined using the same thing you'll find in most meditative styles. That is, I "place my mind" fully on something else as I "hang forward" like a wet rag. More specifically, I "allow" myself to bend forward at the waste while standing with knees slightly bent at first. I passively "allow" (not force or push) my head and arms to hang toward my toes. As I do this, I mentally think about the air as it passes in and out of my nose and mouth. At first it is tempting to keep trying to re-focus on the stretch and "how much farther to my toes", but each time I notice that I'm thinking about something else, I re-focus my thoughts to the air going in and out of my nose and mouth. As I practiced this, I was truly amazed at my progress. Within one week of practicing this 2 or 3 times a day for only 2-3 minutes at a time, I was touching my toes easily with knees totally straight (the first time in my entire life at age 32). My recurrent back problems went away, and have only re-occurred when I get out of the habit of stretching. As you can tell, I'm quite the apostle for spreading the gospel of passive stretching now, and teach the technique when teaching stress management techniques to the finest Air Force in the world. I have seen it repeatedly praised by my patients. I am no exercise physiologist, nor a medical doctor, but am passing along something that has changed my life for the last 10 years.
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