Diary of a Stretching Guitarist

When I was writing Moving Stretch: Work Your Fascia to Free Your Body,  I had to find some people kind enough to give up their time to illustrate my stretches.
Javier was one of those people but when I asked him to get involved, I had no idea how much pain he was in, or how much it would end up benefitting him.
Jon (my publisher) had suggested we do before and after photos of the models who would stretch daily for a month. In addition to this we did a basic flexibility assessment so that we could gain a realistic view of how they had benefitted, and I also asked the models to score their quality of life.
Months before Javier had been in a motorbike crash and was suffering from constant pain in his upper back, neck and shoulders. This was a big problem for him as a career musician. He was having trouble sitting at a piano or playing his guitar, and the pain was impacting his sleep and mood.
As you can see below, in his “before” photos he looked so hunched, with his head jutting forward like an old man, and you can see he was not able to stand with his knees straight. This is most obvious in the sideways photo.
Javier reported that after 2 weeks of stretching his pain was nearly completely gone. At the end of the 4 weeks of stretching his posture had also improved, he was not in any pain and he was able to play his instruments and workout in the gym.

When he came back I could not believe the difference in his posture. When we looked at the difference in the before and after photos we were both astonished. His hunch was almost completely gone, his shoulders broader and his hips more open. He looks more youthful and stronger and his balance seemed much better.
In terms of his other results, his flexibility scores had generally improved a lot, as you can see:


Test (and distance measured) Before (cm) After (cm)
Touching Toes (distance from toes) 35 23
Active Chest Flexibility (distance can move elbows backwards) 0 7
Knee to Chest Left (distance from knee to chest) 34 20
Knee to Chest Right (distance from knee to chest) 34 22
Straight leg Sideways Raise Left (distance can raise leg) 42 35
Straight leg Sideways Raise Right (distance can raise leg) 32 37
 (Of course, a smaller distance is better for the 1st and 3rd tests, and a greater distance is better for the 2nd and 4th tests).
To see the results more clearly, here are the difference in his scores, which show his actual improvement.
Javier’s quality of life scores had risen also, the most notable improvements being his relief from pain, flexibility, general health and energy levels.
If you would like to see what Javier had to say about his experience, check out the video below. While you’re there subscribe to our channel to see more interesting things as they come out!

If you are stretching at home, I really hope you are using some of the self-testing methods (there are some in the book) to track your progress! There is nothing quite like seeing how far you have come to motivate you to go even further.
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