Benefits of stretching


In 1980, I met a guy living on the Big Island in Hawaii that wrote a book called, “Stretching”. His name is Bob Anderson and if you can still find his book, it will change your health and well being.

While you are reading this, millions of people are learning that movement equates to better health and fitness.

When you leave your house and look around, what do you see? You see people walking, jogging, running, playing racquet sports, cycling, surfing, swimming, shooting hoops, and playing ball.

Why are they doing this? Enjoyment? Yes. Better fitness? An even bigger yes. People have discovered that an active lifestyle leads to better fitness and a fuller life. They have more stamina, resist illness, stay trim, and enjoy greater fitness. And all these equate to more self-confidence, less depression and frustration, and more energy to do things later in life.

Then of course, against their endless quest to get rich by prescribing synthetic chemicals to keep us well, the medical research took a walk on the wild side by conceding that a great deal of ill health is directly related to lack of physical activity.

Being aware of this fact, in addition to changing eating habits and more awareness of ill health is directly related to lack of physical activity, is changing lifestyles.

So, this incredible enthusiasm for movement has become a reality and not a fad. We now realize that the only way to prevent the diseases of inactivity is to remain active – not for a month, or a year, but for a lifetime.

Way back, our ancestors did not have the problems that go with a sedentary lifestyle because they had to work hard to survive. They stayed strong and healthy through continuous, vigorous outdoor work. They would chop and dig and till and plant and hunt and all the other stuff they did. But with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, machines began to do what used to be done by hand. Then as people became less active, they began to lose strength and the instinct for natural movement.

Yes, machines have obviously made life easier, but they have also created serious problems. Instead of walking, we drive; rather than climb stairs, we use elevators; while once we were almost continuously active, we now spend most of our time sitting on our butts.

Without daily physical exertion, our bodies become storehouses of unreleased tensions. With no natural outlets for our tensions, our muscles become weak and tight, and we lose touch with our physical nature and a complete sense of well being.

In the 70’s we took on a critical awareness of the necessity for a healthy life and found that good health is something we can actually have control over, and by doing this we can actually prevent poor health and disease.

By constantly moving, we rediscovered the joys associated with an active healthy life and the rewards that come with it.

The body’s capacity for recovery is phenomenal. A surgeon can make an incision to remove or correct a problem and sews us back up. Then the body takes over and heals itself making it so that nature finishes the surgeon’s job.

We all have this capacity for regaining health, whether it be from something as radical as surgery, or from poor physical condition caused by lack of activity and a bad diet.

By now you are probably asking, “what the hell does all this have with stretching”? I am so glad you asked.

Stretching is the crucial link between a sedentary life and an active life. It keeps the muscles supple, prepares you for movement, and helps make the daily transition from inactivity to vigorous activity without undue strain.

It is especially important if you run, cycle, play tennis or golf, or engage in other strenuous exercises, because exercises like these promote tightness and inflexibility. Stretching before and after you work out will keep you flexible and help prevent common injuries like shin splints, Achilles tendinitis from running, and sore shoulders or elbows from tennis.

So, with the vast amount of people engaging in various forms of exercise now, correct information is vital. Stretching might be easy, but if done incorrectly can actually be a nightmare. So, it is essential to understand the right techniques.

When done properly, stretching feels incredible. The good news is that you do not have to push your limits to go further each day. It doesn’t have to be a personal contest to see how far you can stretch. It should be tailored to your body encompassing your individual muscular structure, your flexibility, and your tension levels.

The key is regularity and relaxation with the object of reducing muscular tension to promote freer movement and not to attain extreme flexibility, which often leads to overstretching and injury.

Check out a dog or a cat. They instinctively know how to stretch and they do it spontaneously without over-stretching. They do it continually and naturally tuning up the muscles they will have to use.

Stretching is peaceful, relaxing, non-competitive, and not stressful and the subtle, invigorating feelings you get allow you to get in touch with your muscles. It is completely adjustable to the individual and there is no need to conform to any restrictive discipline.

With the right approach, anyone can be fit. Stretching does not require you to be a great athlete, but you do need to take it slowly, especially in the beginning. It takes time to allow your mind and body to adjust to the stress associated with physical activity. Remember to take your time, start easy and be regular. There is no way you will get into shape in a day just like Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Each of us is a unique physical and mental being with our own comfortable and enjoyable rhythms. We are all different in strength, endurance, flexibility and temperament. If you learn about you, you will be able to develop your own potential and gradually build a foundation of fitness that will last a lifetime.

Everyone can learn to stretch regardless of age or flexibility. You don’t need to be in top physical condition or have specific athletic skills. Whether you sit at a desk all day, dig ditches, do housework, stand at an assembly line, drive a truck, or exercise regularly, the same stretching techniques apply. They are gentle and easy and will conform to individual differences in muscle tension and flexibility and can be done any time you feel like doing it: at work, in a car, waiting for a bus, walking down the street, on the beach, in the water, or after a hike.

What does stretching accomplish?

  • It will reduce muscle tension and make the body feel more relaxed.
  • It helps coordination by allowing for freer and easier movement.
  • It prevents injuries and muscle strains.
  • It makes strenuous activities easier because it lets the muscles know they are going to be used.
  • It develops body awareness.
  • It promotes circulation.
  • It fells good.
  • It loosens the mind’s control of the body so the body moves for its own sake rather than for competition or ego.

When you begin to stretch spend no more than 30 seconds in an easy stretch with no bouncing. Go to the point of mild tension and relax as you hold the stretch. The feeling of tension should subside as you hold the position. If not, ease up and find a degree of tension that is comfortable.

After this easy stretch, move slowly into a bit more until you again feel a mild tension and hold it for no more than 30 seconds, again with no bouncing. If this tension does not subside, back off a little.

Then do it one more time with no bouncing. You will see and feel your stretch increase but ease off if it is uncomfortable.

Then move on to a different muscle stretch and follow the 3-step procedure.

Breathing should be slow and relaxed and under control. If you are bending forward to do a stretch, exhale as you bend forward then breathe slowly as you hold the stretch. Do not hold your breath while stretching. If a stretch position inhibits your breathing pattern, it is an indication that you are not relaxed. So, ease up on the stretch so you can breathe naturally.

One important point to realize is that your muscles have an innate protective feature. Anytime you stretch too far, a message is sent to the muscles to contract, keeping them from getting injured. When you stretch too far, you will tighten the very muscles you are trying to stretch. Just go slowly and patiently.

All of us that were athletes in our younger years grew up with the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. Don’t kid yourself. Stretching, when done correctly, is not painful. So, pay attention to your body, be cognizant of your limitations, and realize that pain is an indication the something is wrong. On bending stretches, bend from the hips and not from the shoulders or head, as it will round the shoulders and put pressure on the lower back.

At 79, I am in 3 softball leagues, race walk, swim, and teach women’s self-defense classes based on 20 or so years of Wing Chun training. And trust me, if I didn’t stretch everyday I’d be in big trouble. Oh yeah, my diet has made it so I don’t have any illnesses or take any meds.


“Stretching” by Bob Anderson

Hesh Goldstein
When I was a kid, if I were told that I'd be writing a book about diet and nutrition when I was older, let alone having been doing a health related radio show for over 36 years, I would've thought that whoever told me that was out of their mind. Living in Newark, New Jersey, my parents and I consumed anything and everything that had a face or a mother except for dead, rotting, pig bodies, although we did eat bacon (as if all the other decomposing flesh bodies were somehow miraculously clean). Going through high school and college it was no different. In fact, my dietary change did not come until I was in my 30's.

Just to put things in perspective, after I graduated from Weequahic High School and before going to Seton Hall University, I had a part-time job working for a butcher. I was the delivery guy and occasionally had to go to the slaughterhouse to pick up products for the store. Needless to say, I had no consciousness nor awareness, as change never came then despite the horrors I witnessed on an almost daily basis.

After graduating with a degree in accounting from Seton Hall, I eventually got married and moved to a town called Livingston. Livingston was basically a yuppie community where everyone was judged by the neighborhood they lived in and their income. To say it was a "plastic" community would be an understatement.

Livingston and the shallowness finally got to me. I told my wife I was fed up and wanted to move. She made it clear she had to be near her friends and New York City. I finally got my act together and split for Colorado.

I was living with a lady in Aspen at the end of 1974, when one day she said, " let's become vegetarians". I have no idea what possessed me to say it, but I said, "okay"! At that point I went to the freezer and took out about $100 worth of frozen, dead body parts and gave them to a welfare mother who lived behind us. Well, everything was great for about a week or so, and then the chick split with another guy.

So here I was, a vegetarian for a couple weeks, not really knowing what to do, how to cook, or basically how to prepare anything. For about a month, I was getting by on carrot sticks, celery sticks, and yogurt. Fortunately, when I went vegan in 1990, it was a simple and natural progression. Anyway, as I walked around Aspen town, I noticed a little vegetarian restaurant called, "The Little Kitchen".

Let me back up just a little bit. It was April of 1975, the snow was melting and the runoff of Ajax Mountain filled the streets full of knee-deep mud. Now, Aspen was great to ski in, but was a bummer to walk in when the snow was melting.

I was ready to call it quits and I needed a warmer place. I'll elaborate on that in a minute.

But right now, back to "The Little Kitchen". Knowing that I was going to leave Aspen and basically a new vegetarian, I needed help. So, I cruised into the restaurant and told them my plight and asked them if they would teach me how to cook. I told them in return I would wash dishes and empty their trash. They then asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was an accountant.

The owner said to me, "Let's make a deal. You do our tax return and we'll feed you as well". So for the next couple of weeks I was doing their tax return, washing their dishes, emptying the trash, and learning as much as I could.

But, like I said, the mud was getting to me. So I picked up a travel book written by a guy named Foder. The name of the book was, "Hawaii". Looking through the book I noticed that in Lahaina, on Maui, there was a little vegetarian restaurant called," Mr. Natural's". I decided right then and there that I would go to Lahaina and work at "Mr. Natural's." To make a long story short, that's exactly what happened.

So, I'm working at "Mr. Natural's" and learning everything I can about my new dietary lifestyle - it was great. Every afternoon we would close for lunch at about 1 PM and go to the Sheraton Hotel in Ka'anapali and play volleyball, while somebody stayed behind to prepare dinner.

Since I was the new guy, and didn't really know how to cook, I never thought that I would be asked to stay behind to cook dinner. Well, one afternoon, that's exactly what happened; it was my turn. That posed a problem for me because I was at the point where I finally knew how to boil water.

I was desperate, clueless and basically up the creek without a paddle. Fortunately, there was a friend of mine sitting in the gazebo at the restaurant and I asked him if he knew how to cook. He said the only thing he knew how to cook was enchiladas. He said that his enchiladas were bean-less and dairy-less. I told him that I had no idea what an enchilada was or what he was talking about, but I needed him to show me because it was my turn to do the evening meal.

Well, the guys came back from playing volleyball and I'm asked what was for dinner. I told them enchiladas; the owner wasn't thrilled. I told him that mine were bean-less and dairy-less. When he tried the enchilada he said it was incredible. Being the humble guy that I was, I smiled and said, "You expected anything less"? It apparently was so good that it was the only item on the menu that we served twice a week. In fact, after about a week, we were selling five dozen every night we had them on the menu and people would walk around Lahaina broadcasting, 'enchilada's at "Natural's" tonight'. I never had to cook anything else.

A year later the restaurant closed, and somehow I gravitated to a little health food store in Wailuku. I never told anyone I was an accountant and basically relegated myself to being the truck driver. The guys who were running the health food store had friends in similar businesses and farms on many of the islands. I told them that if they could organize and form one company they could probably lock in the State. That's when they found out I was an accountant and "Down to Earth" was born. "Down to Earth" became the largest natural food store chain in the islands, and I was their Chief Financial Officer and co-manager of their biggest store for 13 years.

In 1981, I started to do a weekly radio show to try and expose people to a vegetarian diet and get them away from killing innocent creatures. I still do that show today. I pay for my own airtime and have no sponsors to not compromise my honesty. One bit of a hassle was the fact that I was forced to get a Masters Degree in Nutrition to shut up all the MD's that would call in asking for my credentials.

My doing this radio show enabled me, through endless research, to see the corruption that existed within the big food industries, the big pharmaceutical companies, the biotech industries and the government agencies. This information, unconscionable as it is, enabled me to realize how broken our health system is. This will be covered more in depth in the Introduction and throughout the book and when you finish the book you will see this clearly and it will hopefully inspire you to make changes.

I left Down to Earth in 1989, got nationally certified as a sports injury massage therapist and started traveling the world with a bunch of guys that were making a martial arts movie. After doing that for about four years I finally made it back to Honolulu and got a job as a massage therapist at the Honolulu Club, one of Hawaii's premier fitness clubs. It was there I met the love of my life who I have been with since 1998. She made me an offer I couldn't refuse. She said," If you want to be with me you've got to stop working on naked women". So, I went back into accounting and was the Chief Financial Officer of a large construction company for many years.

Going back to my Newark days when I was an infant, I had no idea what a "chicken" or "egg" or "fish" or "pig" or "cow" was. My dietary blueprint was thrust upon me by my parents as theirs was thrust upon them by their parents. It was by the grace of God that I was able to put things in their proper perspective and improve my health and elevate my consciousness.

The road that I started walking down in 1975 has finally led me to the point of writing my book, “A Sane Diet For An Insane World”. Hopefully, the information contained herein will be enlightening, motivating, and inspiring to encourage you to make different choices. Doing what we do out of conditioning is not always the best course to follow. I am hoping that by the grace of the many friends and personalities I have encountered along my path, you will have a better perspective of what road is the best road for you to travel on, not only for your health but your consciousness as well.

Last but not least: after being vaccinated as a kid I developed asthma, which plagued me all of my life. In 2007 I got exposed to the organic sulfur crystals, which got rid of my asthma in 3 days and has not come back in over 10 years. That, being the tip of the iceberg, has helped people reverse stage 4 cancers, autism, joint pain, blood pressure problems, migraine headaches, erectile dysfunction, gingivitis, and more. Also, because of the detoxification effects by the release of oxygen that permeates and heals all the cells in the body, it removes parasites, radiation, fluoride, free radicals, and all the other crap that is thrust upon us in the environment by Big Business.

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