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The Easy Stretching Workbook: A Complete Stretching Class in a Book    by Karen Smith order for
Easy Stretching Workbook
by Karen Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Blue Heron, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Stretching is an important component of any exercise program, both at the beginning and at the end. The Easy Stretching Workbook gives comprehensive instructions (accompanied by large color photographs and an audio CD) on how to properly and safely perform twenty easy stretches. No equipment is required, though a stretch band can be helpful, and a chair is occasionally handy.

The book is well designed with a manipulable spiral binding. Codes relate stretching exercises to CD track numbers, and others indicate whether a stretch is helpful or to be avoided for particular health conditions. In addition to the section that presents the basic stretches, another one suggests how to adapt them, if necessary. Other chapters cover relaxation techniques, and stretches that are most beneficial for sports like weight-training, soccer or golf. I especially appreciated the discussion of those that can be performed at the desk, in a car, or on an airplane.

Introductory sections explain the benefits of stretching to our health, give an overview (with diagrams) of the muskulo-skeletal system, and the spine, and explain what to do and what not to do, in order to stretch safely. A section on relaxation explains progressive muscular relaxation and breathing in relaxation, and introduces 'meditation, the medicine of the mind'. Though I have used most of the stretches in the workbook over the years (especially in martial arts), a few were new to me and I also found valuable the detailed instructions on how to do them effectively.

While I would not recommend this book to a serious yoga practitioner, or anyone who already incorporates intensive stretching in their exercise, The Easy Stretching Workbook is an excellent introduction for someone who wants to start stretching on their own, or to expand an existing, but limited, routine.

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