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“If there is the slightest chance that a patient can be educated in the methods that enable him to reduce his own pain and disability using his own understanding and resources, he should receive that education. Every patient is entitled to the information, and every doctor should be obliged to provide it”.

Robin McKenzie, CNZM, O.B.E., FCSP (Hon), FNZSP (Hon), NZCP (HLM), Dip. MT, Dip.MDT

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Stretching & Warming up Correctly

Perhaps the most important way to prevent injury is to warm up before any strenuous activity or exercise. Of almost equal importance is proper stretching afterwards.

Your warm-up should be 5–10 minutes of gentle movement. The purpose is to increase blood flow to the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments, which will cause them to literally become warmer. Warmer muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments are more elastic, and therefore more resistant to injury, pulls, tears, and cramps. Examples of warm-ups are walking, light jogging, easy cycling, or any activity that takes your body through a similar motion as the particular activity you will be performing.

Stretching should be comfortable, relaxing, and gentle. Less is more. Stretching to pain or discomfort may cause increased muscle tightness and, possibly harm. Holding a stretch for less than 20 seconds may cause increased muscle tightness and, possibly harm. Recommended hold time for stretching is 30–60 seconds per stretch.

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