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Stretching & Flexibility Paperback – September 1, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Stretching is healthy and natural: animals do it all the time. Stretching can alter consciousness by releasing tension in both the body and the mind. Laughlin, who teaches at the Australian National University Sports Union, has developed a comprehensive stretching program that combines basic warm-ups and yoga-type postures performed solo and with a partner to stretch virtually every muscle in the body. To explain exactly what takes place during these workouts, Laughlin provides accurate anatomical diagrams which show precisely which muscle groups are involved in various movements of the body, and the book's more than 700 photographs may be all readers need to perform the stretches he recommends, but the text is extremely clear and detailed as well. Laughlin presents nearly 100 exercises in all, and every part of the body is covered, from neck muscles down to fingers and toes. This is an excellent guide for athletes, health instructors, physical therapists, and all who want to increase their flexibility, strength, and peace of mind. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia; 1 edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743200691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743200691
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have had this book for 5 weeks and can tell you that it is an effective means of increasing your range by informing you what proper stretching is all about. My guess about the people who didn't like this book is that they are use to the "Stretching for Dummies" type writing style where they can open the book, assume a position, and get busy. This is not that type of book. I suspect that people of that nature will never benefit from any stretching book as stretching requires diligence, determination, and patience, all three of which the negative reviewers seem to lack.

That being said, I have gained greatly in some areas and not so much in other areas. Having done both yoga and pilates I know enough to know that it is probably related to my technique. Nonetheless, this is the optimum book for stretching as I have own Pavel's, Wharton's, and others.

On top of everthing else I have said, Kit has a website with a discussion board where you can ask questions and Kit, along with others, will answer.
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Format: Paperback
As someone who has never been flexible and couldn't figure out why (I always thought something was just wrong with me), I was truly delighted to find this book. Lesser books show models falling into position as if it were pleasant and easy, with no real narrative of what it might feel like to an adult just starting to work on this. Yet even as a youngster I couldn't sit on the floor with my legs straight out and did not understand why it was so hard for me.

This book addresses people like me directly. It opens with Laughlin's account of his own puzzling inflexibility. Dancers he knew had such an ease about them that he was convinced they were somehow made differently from him. The rest of the book is a detailed explanation of what flexibility is, followed by the exercises.

Some of the exercises were nice surprises, ways I never would have thought of to stretch. Sharing them with friends ("try this!") has provoked many "wow"s. I showed one to a friend, and now he has other friends convinced that he's a healer because they feel so good when he presses down on their shoulders for them, as shown in the book.

I also bought the DVD. A no-nonsense, no fluff production. Well worth it.
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Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book on flexibility training that I have ever come across. I am sure it will become the ultimate reference text on this issue. The text and illustrations are detailed and complete. Every aspect of each exercise is discussed. The book does not take any short cuts. Very precise information is also given on how to go into and out of stretches, and how every muscle involved is to be used. This is the sort of information that is essential to proper stretching, but is normally missing from flexibility books. It finishes with stretching recommendations for different sports.
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By Objectivo on November 17, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only an excellent book on stretching but an even better template on what a "how to" guide should include: photographs (from different angles), thorough explanations, without filler. It includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced in one volume, rather than "spreading" them across three or four books. That, to me, demonstrates a great deal of integrity on the authors' part. There are partner exercises as well as individual exercises for each muscle group. I would place Stuart McRobert's Insider's Guide to Weight Training in the same category. Solid, user friendly, and thorough work.
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Format: Paperback
I have some flexibility books, and I think this one is the best. The descriptions of all stretches are very detailed. For each of them there are good photographs (not only the final positions) and for most there are alternatives depending on your current flexibility and physical proportions. In no other stretching book have I seen such attention to detail as in this one.
If your goal is to improve general flexibility I would definitely recommend this book. If the reason you considered acquiring it is to help with back or neck pain, I would recommend instead "Overcome Neck & Back Pain" by the same author (several specific stretching and strengthening exercises for that conditions and also a very good self-diagnosis chapter on the possible causes of the pain.)
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Format: Paperback
This book shows you how to progress in your stretching. There is always a basic stretch and then an advance stretch. This book does not assume that you are already flexible. Many of the stretches are good for people who are not atheletes and just want to improve their general flexibility. However, atheletes will be well served by the advanced stretches. The narration is good and replaces an instructor well. The book even goes into common errors that people experience with particular stretches so that you can avoid those mistakes and improve your technique.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the author that emotional strength is based on physical flexibility. I have been dabbling in stretch for years, as part of my bodywork. I achieved temporary effects, but very little cumulative. But these techniques explained by Laughlin are effective at producing a lasting change. The essential element is the contraction release. It seems that contracting a muscle at the current 'edge' of its length somehow not only allows a deeper stretch in the moment, but also seems to 'reset' the nervous system's idea of what is the correct resting length of the muscle should be. One is no longer fighting one's own body but changing it! Although I was not expecting increased strength, that happened also. It seems that the isometric contraction element of these stretches strengthens the nerve function which is the real key to gaining strength.

I also enjoy the elaborate thinking that has gone into each stretch that allows the participant to isolate the muscle and keep the proper form. Once one learns the stretches, they are very quick to set up, but in the beginning all the extra instructions are essential in ensuring that the stretch is not defeated by an unwanted compensation or misalignment elsewhere in the body. Just going to a yoga class or Pilates mat class will not provide the benefit these stretches do because the postures are too uncontrolled and the typical western stiff body doesn't really achieve the 'guts' of the pose. This book however, is truly a remedial approach that expects the participant to have a very limited range of motion to begin with. Just to read the material, the techniques do not sound impressive, but when one actually does the stretches, the genius is revealed.

After a good session, the blissful feeling lasts for hours.
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