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The Whartons' Stretch Book Paperback – July 9, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the dirty secrets of the fitness world is that for all the talk about the importance of stretching, many athletes and other fit people don't bother with it. It's hard to gauge the benefits, and it seems as if the time could be better spent running, lifting weights, or perfecting sports skills. This sentiment is expressed by Dr. Bob Arnot in the foreword to "The Whartons' Stretch Book," and he says that the Whartons changed his mind. He went to them with a stiffened hip that he thought needed surgery, but after a regimen using the active-isolated stretching technique, his flexibility in that hip had increased 40 percent.

Active-isolated stretching is very different from what your high-school gym teacher made you do. Rather than holding a stretch for a half-minute, you hold it for just two seconds. This prevents the muscle from activating an instinctual braking device to keep itself from overstretching. Traditional stretching forces that braking to occur, and the Whartons think that's not only counterproductive, but dangerous. If you force too deep a stretch while the muscle is doing all it can to keep itself from being stretched, something's got to give. And a torn muscle will repair itself with scar tissue, ultimately making that muscle less flexible.

The Whartons--a father-and-son personal-training team who've worked with many pro athletes and Olympic medalists--show you how to use their stretches to prepare for dozens of sports, from aerobics to wrestling. Nonathletes get an entire section of the book, which describes stretch routines to get your body feeling better after prolonged driving, sitting, standing, and word processing. The routines are a bit on the longish side--20 minutes or more--but it doesn't seem like much time when you think of how long you have to live in your body, and how much better it will feel if you keep it supple and flexible. --Lou Schuler

From Library Journal

This humorously written, nonscientific book is directed at both amateur and professional athletes. The authors describe their "breakthrough method" of Active-Isolated Stretching. The premise is that quick contractions of the muscle opposite the desired muscle will greatly boost athletic or occupational performance. The 20-minute routine is divided into five body zones. Each stretch is held for only two seconds. A minimal time commitment is required for a large payoff in terms of greater flexibility, fewer injuries, and delayed aging. The second part of the book is indexed by sport and occupation and directs the reader to specific stretches that should be performed for each activity. There is also a section on stretching during pregnancy and stretching for seniors. Recommended for large fitness collections.?Goldman Horning, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: TimesBooks (Random House); 1 edition (July 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812926234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812926231
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Joe Pulido on May 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
About two months ago I started to research new stretching methods. I had injured myself numerous times on several occasions during the previous 5 months, and I recognized that I desperately needed to change how I worked out in general. Up until that point, I had done weight training and running off and on for about 6 years. I decided to pay attention to a previously neglected part of my training, that of stretching.
I ended up running across the method of active isolated stretching, and eventually settled on this book in order to learn how the method worked. Let me say that first and foremost IT WORKS. You don't hurt yourself, you can actually watch your body make flexibility gains while you stretch, something that I NEVER experienced to the same degree in all my previous years of stretching. The addition of the rope is essential: not only does it make the stretches possible, it also supports the leg and makes sane, reasonable stretching a possibility.
When I finished my first day of stretching, I felt like someone had handed me a new pair of legs. All my previous methods left me legs feeling like they were ripped apart (my muscles probably were), whereas I now felt fresh and ready to spring into action. It really has given me a new body, and alot of energy. I prefer it to yoga, and I do the trunk stretches every day.
Having applauded their work, there were a few cons. Figuring out the stretches was somewhat difficult: it was like trying to figure out how to work your new VCR. After alot of picking your brain, eventually you understand all the subtleties within each stretch. Furthermore, it is ESSENTIAL to memorize all of the different muscle groups in the body. Only when you know where your muscles are will you be able to stretch properly.
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160 of 174 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
While I agree with the authors' approach to stretching and flexibility, this book is really aimed at advanced athletes who already have a good degree of flexibility.
My three distinct criticism are as follows: first, the authors state that most of the workouts can be performed in 20 minutes after a short learning curve of about three weeks. In reality, the program I use - body building, consists of 49 to 50 exercises, takes about 34 minutes [50 exercises x 2 sides x 2 seconds contraction/stretch x 10 reps = 2000 seconds or 33.3 minutes] and that would be non-stop with no allowance for set-up into the next set. The ACTUAL time from start to finish is almost 1 hour - hardly convenient.
Second, the book never mentions the resting period between exercises.
Third, the drawings are generally poor representation of the progression of each exercise AND the clock face is often not in agreement with the persepective of the body position.
A final criticism has to do with the initial self-test. My home, and I imagine most others, are not set up with the type of floor level mirrors to evaluate the clock position. Also, even a floor mirror such as on a closet door require the athlete to pull out of position or lock into a difficult position in order to view the relative clock position (degree of flex). This defeats the exercise completely. Case in point, trying to view the seated torso rotations. The position calls for the chin to be tucked into the chest during the flexion sets. You cannot do this and look up into a mirror at the same time - severly limiting the accuracy of the test.
To summarize, a valuable concept, poorly presented. I would suggest at a minimum black & white model photos - not line drawings.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Skip this book and choose "Specific Stretching for Everyone" or "Active Isolated Stretching--The Mattes Method" by Aaron Mattes, the guy who first developed these techniques. His site at [...] has more info on these stretches.
The exercises and the narrative descriptions in the Wharton book are copied almost verbatim from Mattes' original book--nothing new or helpful is added other than some self-promoting anecdotes about athletic successes--and Mattes' original book has clear and helpful photographs, unlike the amateurish and confusing line drawings in the Wharton book. Mattes' book also includes detailed stretching routines for upper/lower body, neck/shoulders.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By John Blue on June 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book saved my life! Well, not really, but it has saved me a bunch of money on physical therapist visits. I tried this book out because a running acquaintance had introduced me to the concept a few years ago. She had found it to be helpful for her and for the athletes she coached. I am a competitive distance runner and typically lose time each year due to a training related injury. I finally decided to give it a try and I am glad I did.

By using the stretches in this book, I've gained a tremendous improvement in flexibility and running comfort. I have since turned into an obnoxious proselytizer for this stretching technique-just ask any of my running friends.

There are a couple of things about the book that should be noted. First of all, the authors imply the entire set of stretches can be done in a few minutes. This is hard to believe. I just focus on my trunk & legs and it still takes me a full 20-minutes. Expect to spend 45-minutes or more if you plan to do all the stretches in the book. It will take you longer when you first start, but you will get more efficient as you practice.

Also, as some other readers have noted, a few of the pictures (drawings) are a bit hard to follow. You might also check out: Active Isolated Stretching: The Mattes Method, by Aaron L. Mattes. It is focused more on the professional trainer or physical therapist so it's not so fun to read, but the illustrations are better.

As an added bonus, you may look ridiculous while doing these stretches. Be sure to do them where your children and their friends can see you.

All in all, this book is a worthwhile read if you want to improve your flexibility for sports or simply for active living.
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