Book Review: “Stretching Anatomy”

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Reviewed by: Christopher Roberts
Title : Stretching Anatomy
Author: Arnold G. Nelson and Jouko Kokkonen
Publisher: Human Kinetics
Year: 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 215
Availability: Barnes and Nobles, Most Booksellers and Amazon


Description and Review: 
“Stretching Anatomy: Your illustrated guide to improving flexibility and muscular strength” by Arnold G. Nelson and Jouko Kokkonen is a great book with full color illustrations that show the muscles in action as well as how the muscle emphasis can change with different variations on the stretching exercises.

Each exercise details how to execute the stretch, the primary and secondary muscles activated to help you increase flexibility, reduce soreness and tension and increase your athletic performance.

The book first details the difference between static, dynamic and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching. The exercises are then broken up in to chapters based on which area of the body is the focus for the stretching exercises. The first seven chapters focus on major joint areas of the body, starting with the neck and ending with the feet.

The sections are further broken down into Beginner/Intermediate/Advance levels as for who should do the stretches and when. Once you are more comfortable with the Beginner exercises you can graduate up to the next level of exercises. The last few chapters focus on dynamic stretching routines for athletic performance and some sport specific stretches (i.e. tennis, soccer, etc).

Chapters are as follows:

  1. Neck
  2. Shoulders, Back and Chest
  3. Arms, Wrists and Hands
  4. Lower Trunk
  5. Hips
  6. Knees and Thighs
  7. Feet and Calves
  8. Dynamic Stretches
  9. Customizing Your Stretching Program

Most of the stretches in the book are ones that we have seen in most gyms and studios before. I didn’t see any that were completely new to me, so I didn’t have any aha moments.

However, what I did like about the book was the detailed instructions on how to execute the exercises that were accompanied by very detailed anatomy pictures that clearly show the primary muscles that the exercise stretches as well as the secondary muscles that are used to support the stretch. Each exercise also includes a “Notes” section that gives some idea of who could benefit from the stretch which is handy in helping to put together a stretching program for your clients. It gives you more tools in your tool box to better serve you clients needs.

I also found the sport specific stretching programs at the end of the book to be very helpful. If you have a client who is say a gymnast, it gives you a few exercises in that would benefit them in helping to increase their flexibility better targeted to the sport that the perform and practice.

Overall, I think it’s a great book and a super easy read. It is definitely a book that Ill refer back to again and again when looking to target some tight areas for my clients.

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