The Anatomy of Stretching

Book cover of The Anatomy of Stretching by Brad Walker


Stretching is something that most runners know they should do, and know they don't do enough of. Knowing how to stretch and why you should stretch should go a long way towards getting you to actually do it. This is one of the reason's this resource is so useful.

The Anatomy of Stretching by Brad Walker is extremely well-laid-out and owners will find themselves continually dipping in for information on specifics.

With over 130 different stretches detailed and illustrated, the chances are you'll discover stretches you didn't even know existed that target muscles that you didn't even know were there.

Whether you're looking to improve your flexibility, avoid injuries, rehabilitate, improve your knowledge, or all of these, Strength Training Anatomy is an invaluable resource for any serious runner or athlete. Make this book part of your library and you won't regret your decision.

Book Review

Introductory Chapters

The book begins with a chapter on flexibility, anatomy and physiology. This provides a good overview of the mechanics of stretching and what's going on behind the scenes. For the layman the chapter is readable, but does get quite technical in places, especially the sections on muscle physiology and muscle contraction.

However, a complete understanding of the contents of this first chapter is not required to appreciate and benefit from the rest of the book, and it does a good job of providing the reader with an understanding of the basics.

Chapter Two looks at the principles of stretching. There are details of the many benefits of stretching - some of which are not very well-known, an explanation of the various different types of stretches and a description of how to stretch properly and to incorporate it into your routine and lifestyle.

Reference Chapters

Following the introductory section, each of the following chapters is dedicated to a specific body area (e.g. neck & shoulders, stomach, upper calves, quadriceps).

The chapter begins with an introduction that describes the area of focus and a fairly-detailed description of the roles of the various muscles that form this area of the body.

The introduction finishes with a list of the sports that the stretches within the chapter may benefit. A diverse range of activities are included, such as running, baseball, kayaking, surfing, wrestling, rugby, track & field, roller skating, race walking and cycling.

Each page within each chapter focuses on a different stretch (for example, there are 23 different stretches detailed in the "Back & Sides" section) and follows the same format. This consistency and clarity is one of the major appeals of the book and contributes massively to making it such a useful reference tool.

The top half of the page includes a detailed anatomical illustration of the stretch being performed, with targetted muscles and muscle groups highlighted and labelled. This is, where necessary, accompanied by extra illustrations of the specific areas, again with targetted muscles highlighted and named.

Below these illustrations the following sections provide more information about the stretch:

  • Technique - a description of how to carry out the stretch
  • Muscles being stretched. Primary and secondary muscles are listed
  • Sports that benefit from the stretch
  • Sports injuries where the stretch may be useful for prevention or treatment
  • Additional information for performing the stretch correctly
  • Complementary stretch that can enhance the benefit of the stretch

Each stretch in the book has a reference that takes the form of a letter followed by two digits (e.g. D23). The letter refers to a chapter and the numbers to a page within that chapter, so cross referencing stretches is quick and easy.

Wrapping Up

At the back of the book are two very useful quick references: a list of common sports injuries, with the top five stretches for each referenced alongside, and a list of popular sports, with the top five stretches for that sport listed alongside.

The book ends with a list of useful resources and a glossary.

Anybody purchasing the book also gets access to a bonus 1-hour mp3 and a stretching e-book.

About the Author

Brad Walker is the go-to guy for anything related to stretching. He has an Associate Diploma of Health Science in Sport and Exercise and post-graduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon.

He has several years of experience in the sports industry and has worked with elite athletes from a variety of disciplines.

As well as writing for several health & fitness web sites and magazines, Brad is also the author of The Anatomy of Sports Injuries, Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility and Treat Your Own Knees.