Can I still exercise if I have hypertension?

Hypertension, or also known as High blood pressure is a very common problem in our modern day society. Individuals with hypertension may require special considerations for exercise testing and / or prescription. There are two distinctive categories of hypertension known as the primary and secondary category.

The primary category entails all the causes of hypertension that is unknown and the secondary category has identifiable endocrine or structural disorders. Without going too deep into the medical genre you should understand that approximately 90% of hypertension is primary of nature. Within this category we have mild, moderate, moderate to severe and uncontrolled groups.

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Cyclist’s Hands, Overcoming overuse injuries

Active isolated stretching can help you, After a ride on your bike, have you experienced numbness, tingling, or pain in your arm, hand, wrist, or little finger? If you have, you could be suffering from an overuse injury. Approximately one-third of all bicycling overuse injuries involves the hands. With the other two third portion being hips, knees, ankles, neck and shoulders. The 2 most common are what we call “handlebar palsy” and carpal tunnel syndrome. By making some adjustments to your bike and by wearing some protective equipment, you can prevent these injuries from occurring.

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Do I stretch or don’t I?

To Stretch or Not To Stretch?


A debate written by Roger Robinson and Candace Karu


Not To Stretch! “Did it help my running? Not a scrap.”


And on the other side:


To stretch! ” Stretching can help us extend the life of our muscles, tendons and fascia, helping us maintain flexibility and keeping injuries at bay. Stretching can keep many of us running longer and stronger. Frankly, I’d do just about anything to achieve that goal. Stretching seems a small price to pay.”


Read this and find out what is more important too you, doing boring things like brushing your teeth, combing your hair and cleaning your shoes are all necessities in our social environment, so on the same note would stretching be a boring but yet necessary thing to do in the sport and injury environment?


It gets even better, you can now simply go and see an expert to do all your stretching for you!, precisely, accurately and right to the points that you needed it most.


First up: Roger Robinson




I’m a skeptic about stretching. Like every runner, I want to be fast, strong, agile, and pain free; I want to eliminate injuries, reduce muscle soreness, and feel at least part-Kenyan. For many years I did get near these goals. But not by stretching.


Yes, I did my share of pushing against trees and lampposts, heaving my foot up on fence rails and car hoods, using every unseen elevator ride for that addictive surreptitious twangle of the muscle fibers. I knew how stretching would balance the uneven development of a runner’s calf muscles, quads and hamstrings. At train stations and bus stops I stood holding one foot to the buttock like a wobbly heron, or stood with toes on the curb to practice heel drops, or bowed over a forward-lunging leg like a member of some strange religious sect, facing Eugene, or slumped with dangling arms to touch my toes, convincing onlookers that I was about to pass out and require CPR.


Did it help my running? Not a scrap.


I know it’s close to heresy, but I believe stretching is a waste of time and energy unless you want to put your leg up behind your ear like a cat. I have four ways of justifying my aversion.


I am a runner, not a limbo dancer. In a race I need my leg muscles to work fast, powerfully and often. Stretching teaches them to work slowly, flexibly and once. I need them to move me forward, and every tiny fraction of an inch per stride is significant to my result. Stretching encourages them to move sideways, which could even slow down my final time. I need them to be efficient within the requirements of a highly specific and purposeful range of motion. Stretching encourages them to go outside that range. Running, even a marathon, is intense and mobile. Stretching is leisurely and static. Running is work (and work is heat). Stretching isn’t.


In my peak running days, with a full career outside the sport, I was leading a crowded life that never gave me enough time for the running I ideally wanted to do. To those who asked me about stretching, I used to say simply that if I could find 15 minutes a day to stretch, I’d rather spend that time running. Even now, in my declining years, I know people who spend as much time stretching as they do on their feet in the park. I’d rather be running.


Stretching can injure you. I am far from the only runner I know who has been hurt by stretching. In my case, when I was having trouble with an Achilles tendon, I was advised to do “stairs drops.” Instead of giving me a flexuous, pain-free Achilles, it tore tissues behind the knee and put me out for a year. I could have injured the Achilles three times at less cost in time. Yes, no doubt I did my stair stretches too hard, too far, too soon, too often—so they said. But that’s what runners are like. If stretching is so dangerous, why risk it? Even if I had devoted long hours to extending ever so slowly, ever so gently, wearing that bit of stair carpet to the scrim, would the benefit to my running have justified so much time invested? Is there proof that a stretched Achilles tendon is less liable to injury? Why, when most injuries there come from impact or pressure from the shoe?


Running is interesting, stretching is boring. Running gives a sense of fulfillment, achievement, even transcendence. Stretching gives a sense of being stretched. Life is too short for boring things. The only time stretching was ever amusing was when the cat used to join me on the floor, rolling and twirling and arching her furry gray back. She was a very satirical cat.


I am not alone. The online “Peak Performance Newsletter,” Number 175, summarized a recent research review by Australian exercise physiologists Mick Wilkinson and Alun Williams, published in the British Medical Journal, which finds no statistical link between stretching and injury prevention and no identifiable benefit for runners from stretching. From their statistical data Wilkinson and Williams conclude that the average runner would have to stretch non-stop for 23 years to prevent one injury. Their physiological argument is that encouraging rotational movement, such as hip flexibility, “will not only contribute nothing at all to the main [forward] effort but will also waste precious energy in neutralizing these unhelpful rotary movements.” Pete Pfitzinger ventured into the same territory in the June 2004 issue of Running Times: “Runners who are more economical tend to be relatively inflexible. Reduced flexibility may increase the ability of the muscles to store and return energy, or increase leg stability.”


The flexibility a runner needs is running specific. If I wrote a book and called it SF (specific flexibility) it might become a cult. You get it by making your running varied and natural. Instead of bashing every mile on the same unyielding blacktop or concrete road surface, run on trails and tracks, hills and hollows, soggy mud, sticky clay, and springy grass, splash through puddles and skitter over stones and struggle through sand—whatever you can find that is varied and natural. Running at speed for a long time over all kinds of terrain is how people two million years ago used to do the grocery shopping. It stretches everything that needs stretching for running, and, more importantly, it works everything, too. You will do more useful stretching from Pete Pfitzinger’s drills and strides on page 12 than from hours of pushing against the lamppost.


The truth is there is only one way to be a good and happy runner—by running, and running over the old earth as she really is. That might sound unglamorous and unscientific, but actually it is a source of wonder, reward and delight. And you can’t say that about stretching.


SECONDLY: Candace Karu




To stretch! ” Stretching can help us extend the life of our muscles, tendons and fasciae, helping us maintain flexibility and keeping injuries at bay. Stretching can keep many of us running longer and stronger. Frankly, I’d do just about anything to achieve that goal. Stretching seems a small price to pay.”


Five years ago the idea of my taking the “pro” side of the stretching debate would have been unfathomable. Like my esteemed colleague, Mr. Robinson, I eschewed even the most cursory attempt to improve my flexibility. Why bother, I asked myself. I was running strong, comparatively fast, and injury free. Included in my career-high weekly mileage was a healthy mix of tempo runs, long runs, and speed work. I had a plan of periodization and followed it with dedication and commitment. In order to strengthen my feet and legs and minimize burnout, I made it a point to run on changing terrain and surfaces. I ate nutritious meals, slept enough to feel rested most of the time, and I was posting PRs, even at my advanced age. My running life was perfect, so why would I take the extra time, time I couldn’t spare, for the sake of adding a stretching routine into my busy schedule.


Not long ago, the answer came to me, startling in its clarity. It started with a persistent, painful case of plantar fasciitis, and segued into chronic back issues. My foot problems made walking difficult and running a distant memory. In spite of neuromuscular massage, cortisone injections, and endless hours rolling my foot over what appeared to be the unholy spawn of a golf ball and a porcupine, my foot pain continued unabated. In desperation I succumbed to the advice of my friend and mentor, fitness guru Sarah MacColl, who addressed my problem with a plan for stretching. This routine did not include the types of moves so eloquently described by a certain skeptic who shall remain nameless. There was no desultory heel dropping followed by a few half-hearted tree and lamppost pushes. There was no gung-ho, too-much-is-not-enough zealous attack. This was a directed, concentrated program, the goal of which was to elongate my calf muscles and the fascia that covers the muscles on the bottom of my foot.


Yes, it was boring—painfully boring, excruciatingly boring. But it was a program that I could fit in while watching the 11 p.m. news. Yes, I would rather have spent the time running, but since by then I couldn’t run a step, I had little to lose. By that time I would have volunteered to watch paint dry if it would have allowed me to run again.


And, miracle of miracles, it worked. A consistent and well-monitored regimen of stretching allowed me to heal a chronic overuse injury and get back on the roads. For a while. Not long after I had started to increase my weekly mileage, an old back injury returned to haunt me. My 50th birthday was spent having a celebratory MRI. The news wasn’t good. The news was awful. The news was catastrophic. I was told to stop running. Forever. For months I sank into a deep, soul-crunching depression. Then I found a new doctor. And a new physical therapist.


You can see it coming, can’t you? Once again, stretching came to my rescue. Stretching allowed me to run again. I took up cross training to keep a semblance of fitness while I was on my running hiatus. If you think stretching is boring, you obviously haven’t spent much time on a stationary bike. Again I incorporated a specific, targeted stretching and core-strengthening routine. Over the course of several months, I extended my 11 p.m. routine to help increase flexibility in my torso and arms as well as my legs and feet. To enhance this program and to keep things fresh, I also tried both yoga and Pilates classes.


During this time I also availed myself of the wisdom of various stretching experts. I culled some excellent advice from Rob Lyden in his book Distance Running. I revisited Heather Liston’s chapter entitled “Developing Your Flexibility” in The Running Times Guide to Breakthrough Running. I even rented “Power Yoga for Runners” on DVD and used it when I couldn’t get to a class. The most helpful resources of all were Active Isolated Stretching: The Mattes Method and Specific Stretching for Everyone, both by Aaron L. Mattes. Mattes, a kinesiologist, is the father of this popular stretching technique, in which each stretch is held for only two seconds, followed by a brief rest, repeating the stretch eight to 12 times. Not surprisingly, this book has developed a cult following among physical therapists and exercise physiologists.


Stretching comes with its own caveats. A program of stretching should have purpose and specificity. For the price of a couple of massages, you can hire a fitness instructor or physical therapist to help you structure a stretching routine that will benefit your unique running needs. Tossing your leg upon the nearest horizontal surface or dropping your heels off a curb after a long run is an interesting way to cool down, but probably not much value as a stretching mechanism. At best you’ll look like a “real” runner to the uninitiated, at worst you’ll end up with a painful stretching injury.


It is also important to remember that the time to start a stretching program is not when you are recently injured. If an injury is causing you pain, do not try to stretch it out. Begin a stretching program when you are in reasonably good shape and your muscles are most receptive. Better yet, seek the advice of a professional before you begin.


As we age, our flexibility diminishes. We can vary the surfaces over which we run, we can cross train, we can push our limits. What we cannot do is turn back time. Stretching can help us extend the life of our muscles, tendons and fascia, helping us maintain flexibility and keeping injuries at bay. Stretching can keep many of us running longer and stronger. Frankly, I’d do just about anything to achieve that goal. Stretching seems a small price to pay.

Active Isolated Stretching Exercises from N.Y

Active Isolated Stretching Exercises

Eight exercises from Jim and Phil Wharton

Below are 8 active isolated stretches from the father/son team of Jim and Phil Wharton. The underlying theory behind A.I.S is that if a muscle is stretched too far, too fast, or for too long, it elicits a protective action known as the myotatic reflex, causing it to automatically and ballistically recoil in an attempt to prevent the muscle from tearing. This occurs about three seconds into a stretch. 

Therefore, A.I.S  practitioners hold a stretch for only two seconds, before the myotatic reflex kicks in, then relax and repeat 10 times. Using this technique, the muscles exhibit a greater range of motion over the course of each set of stretching repeats.

The other key to A.I.S is to contract the opposing muscles to allow the target muscle to relax. For example, when stretching the hamstrings, the quadriceps muscles on the front of the leg are contracted, relaxing the hamstrings and making them more susceptible to stretching. A runner would lie on his back, lift his leg by using the muscles on the front of the leg, then stretch the hamstring by lightly pulling the leg back to the point of tightness for two seconds, then releasing.

This brings up the “assisted” aspect of A.I.S The muscle is coaxed through its last few degrees of motion either by a partner, or more commonly, by the use of an eight-foot length of rope that is wrapped around the foot or leg in various ways depending on the direction of the stretch.

For more on stretching, see The Wharton’s Way, or visit


Lie on your back, bending your nonexercising knee. Bend your exercising knee and place your hands behind your knee/thigh. Using your abdominals and hip flexors, lift your exercising leg toward your chest until you can go no farther. Aim your knee toward your armpit, gently assisting your leg at the end of the stretch with your hands, but do not pull.


Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make a loop from the rope and place the foot of the leg you’re exercising into the loop. Lift your leg until your thigh is perpendicular to the floor. Grasp the ends of the rope with one hand and place the other on top of the thigh of the exercising leg to stabilize it. Gradually extend your leg by contracting your quadriceps, causing your foot to rise to the ceiling. The goal is to lock your knee and have your foot at high noon. You may have to lower the angle of your leg from the hip at first. Use the rope for gentle assistance at the end of the stretch, but do not pull the leg into position.


Lie on your back. Begin with your non-exercising knee bent and with that foot flat on the floor. Make a loop from the rope and place the foot of the leg you’re exercising into the loop, locking the knee so the leg is extended straight out. From the hip and using the quadriceps, lift your leg as far as  you can, aiming your foot toward the ceiling. Grasp the ends of the rope with both hands and “climb” the rope, keeping slight tension on it. Use the rope for gentle assistance at the end of the stretch, but do not pull the leg into position.



Sit with both legs straight out in front of you. Loop the rope around the foot of your exercising leg (still straight). From your heel, flex your foot back toward your ankle, using the rope for a gentle assist at the end of the movement.



Stand with both arms at your sides. Raise one arm, placing that hand behind your head with the elbow pointed away from your body. Bend at the waist so that the arm that is straight is lowered down the side of the leg toward the knee and lower leg. This stretch can be modified by leaning slightly forward or backward before bending at the waist.



Sit with your back straight, your knees bent, your feet resting on your heels, and your toes pointing slightly up. Tuck your chin down, contract your abdominal muscles to pull your body forward. Grasp the sides of the lower legs with your hands to gently assist at the end of the stretch. To modify this for a deep lower back stretch, bring your heels closer to your body.



Lie on your back with both legs extended straight out, looping the rope around the inside of the ankle, then under the foot, of the exercising leg, so the ends of the rope are on the outside. Lock that knee and rotate the other leg inward slightly. From your hip and using your abductors, extend your exercising leg out from the side of your body, leading with your heel. Keep slight tension on the rope and use it for gentle assistance at the end of the stretch. Do not pull the leg into position.


Lie on your side with your knees curled up against your chest (in a fetal position). Slide your bottom arm under the thigh of your bottom leg and place your hand around the outside of your foot, or use a looped rope. Reach down with your upper hand and grasp the shin, ankle or forefoot of your upper leg. Keep your knee bent and your leg parallel to the surface you’re lying on. Contract your hamstrings and gluteus maximus, and move the upper leg back as far as you can, using your hand to give a gentle assist at the end of the stretch.