Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility by Brad Walker, injuryfix.com, $19.95 spiral paperback set including a DVD and CD-ROM.
At age 56 I have noticed a marked increase in joint and muscle stiffness, especially in the morning. This leads to less activity which creates a cycle of more stiffness and pain leading to even less activity. It's a cycle I wanted to break but wasn't sure how. My instinct told me if I could become more flexible I'd be able to move better but information via the Internet tended to focus on yoga more than general stretching, something I had tried before but felt at risk of injury with many of the positions.
The Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility has given me the answers I was seeking in layman's terms I can understand and gentle stretching I can actually do without pain from exercise scientist and sports trainer Brad Walker. It's common sense mixed with science and although Walker is clear that this book is not intended to replace medical advice or diagnose treatment for specific injuries, he offers sound advice for normal, daily activity no matter the age or fitness level of the reader, as well as recommended stretches for specific sports.
The first chapters explain the benefits and types of stretching and chapter five addresses the rules for safe stretching. I recommend reading that chapter first because of the important information it contains. The spiral-bound format makes it user friendly as it stays open to the page needed while performing the stretches. There are many photographs accompanying the clear step-by-step instructions for the exercises. The DVD included in the set is very helpful as an exercise video alternative to using the book with the exercises demonstrated by two models in various outdoor settings.
Although I have just begun a stretching routine based on the recommendations in this book and DVD, I felt a difference after the first day. It wasn't a "wow, I'm ready to run a marathon" difference but more of a "hmmm, walking doesn't hurt my knee and feet quite as much as it did yesterday." I'm looking forward to continued progress.
If you experience pain and stiffness due to an injury or illness, see a doctor first. But if you are getting older and noticing an increase in joint and muscle stiffness like me, or are an athlete who wants to make sure you are making the most of before and after stretching for your sport, this would be a great resource.