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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 section 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 document.


I (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.

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.

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.


Thanks to all the readers of the `rec.martial-arts', `rec.arts.dance' and `misc.fitness' 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 References on Stretching.

About the Author

I am not an expert in anatomy or physiology! 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.

I am always interested in hearing about any new information which would be appropriate to add to this document. If you have any such information about a stretching technique, a book, or anything else you can think of, please feel free to contact me. All I ask is that you be prepared to provide me with at least one reputable and reliable source for your information.

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