Football Jocks drawing by Bonnie PruddenWHATEVER YOUR New Year’s Resolution may be… when it comes to exercise there are certain rules that should be followed. Whether you are a NEWBIE who’s just starting out, a “get tough” weekend warrior or an expert going for the Gold, certain rules apply.

Don’t do small arm circles. Small arm circles create shoulder tension. Most people already have tension in this area.

Arm circles should be large, and done in both directions. This puts the shoulder through a full range of motion, releases shoulder tension, increases shoulder flexibility and helps protect against poor posture.

Don’t do straight legged double leg lifts. This puts undue stress on the low back muscles, especially if your abdominal muscles are not as strong as they should be. Leg lifts strengthen the psoas muscle, which is developed by hopping, running and jumping. The psoas muscle begins in the low back, runs through the hip area and attaches to the front of the upper leg.

To strengthen this muscle without causing injury, simply lift one leg at a time. Make sure you also bend the other knee – this allows you to keep your back flat on the floor as you are raising the side you’re strengthening. For more ways to strengthen this important muscle, click here for the exercises that will help you.

Stretching Duo drawing by Bonnie PruddenDon’t do straight legged sit ups. This also put stress on the low back muscles. Sit-ups should be done with knees bent, feet held down and hands behind your head. If you can’t do a sit-up and need help, click here for the exercises.

DO warm up. Warm muscles are 20% safer and more efficient. A warm-up should consist of a series of exercises to warm muscles – ALL the muscles. A good warm-up is done standing in one place so the cold muscle does not have to lift the body off the ground. A good warm-up includes the whole body.

Good warm-ups:

  • Are done standing in one place so the cold muscle does not have to lift the body off the ground;
  • Involve rhythm, because muscles respond to both natural and imposed rhythm with a minimum of direction from the brain. And if they have been trained with good warm-ups for months, the muscles move easily within a safe parameter, never overreaching. A light stretch is built into a good warm-up, but only after the muscles are warm and loose.
  • Are designed to speed up the heart action (without straining cold muscles) and increase circulation;
  • Should be done to music, and it should be the right music: muscles respond to music.

Do Stretch
There are all kinds of stretches, some for general use and some for very specific use. There are easy stretches and impossible stretches.

Stretches should be done AFTER your workout when the sweat is pouring off of you, when you have worked up to that point in an exercise class OR when you have finished your run, your weight workout or your sport.

Dancer drawing by Bonnie PruddenStatic Stretch Or Ballistic Stretch?
Nobody, according to James G Garrick, MD, thought much about stretching until the early 1960s when weightlifters – using mostly free weights – started lifting through a minimum range of motion to maximize the amount of weight they could lift. Results? They became “muscle bound” and experienced a lot of injuries. The stretching programs attempted to alleviate the problem by stretching the muscle beforehand.

Static stretch requires that you take the stretch to your limit and hold it for a given amount of time. When you hold a stretch, a reflex kicks in which sets up tension in the muscle to protect it from going any further and injuring itself. If you are not flexible you already have tension in the muscle.

Ballistic stretch asks that you gently “pulse”. When you “pulse” your stretch it encourages the muscle to let go. Bonnie Prudden has always used ballistic stretch. She says if you want to know which one works best just go to a dance class where they use ballistic stretch and then go to a football practice where they use static stretch.

Let Your Body Be Your Guide
YOU know your body better than anyone else. Let your body be your guide. Listen to what it’s telling you. It rarely lies. Don’t set your goal by the person next to you. Set your own goal and don’t ignore what your body is telling you.

Pain Free Living Book PicFor more information on how to get started, how to prepare for sports, and how to prevent injury, visit You may also want to look for Bonnie’s book: Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain Free Living.


For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.

Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy