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When the original Body-for-Life book came out 10 years ago, one thing I noticed was the lack of stretching information in the book. The idea as described was that the workout itself would actually be your stretching. Time, personal experience, and new research has shown that this isn’t the best way to approach stretching. Stretching and mobility work do in fact need to be a specific part of any workout program.

I’ve seen many individuals following Body-for-Life sustain injuries over the years. Many of them appear to be injuries which could be avoided with proper stretching and mobility work.  Still, I’ll confess I did a double-take when a friend asked me if I’d read about what happened to Bill Phillips, author of Body-for-Life , founder of EAS, and current head of Transformation.com.

Apparently, Bill sustained a bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture while walking down a flight of stairs. A bilateral (meaning both sides) injury of any sort is always very serious.  The quadriceps is a four headed muscle that makes up the mass of the front part of the leg. The job of the quadriceps is to extend the knee, which makes it possible for us to walk. Quads are one of the strongest muscles in the body.  Tendons attach muscle to bone. In this case, the quadriceps tendon attaches to the kneecap.

As you can see, it’s a straight shot into the knee. When a tendon ruptures, it’s another way of saying the tendon has torn. Tendons are very strong and flexiable. So tearing them requires significant force, or an underlying medical pathology which makes them more fragile. The quadriceps tendon in particular is a tough one to rupture.  Most cases in the literature show that this injury is the result of endocrine diseases like diabetes, obesity, or thyroid issues. Steroid use is also shown in the literature as a significant underlying cause of this type of injury.

I started thinking about the impact on the body of a lifetime of weight training with poor stretching and mobility work. It’s a very sobering thought. You can make your body powerful and strong, but if you neglect your connective tissue, you remain vulnerable to debilitating injuries. I’ve watched people tear the heck out of shoulders, injure knees, and turn ankles into mush in pursuit of health and fitness. In the quest to keep working out no matter what, important warning signs and signals get missed.

This brings me back to stretching and mobility work. While you can’t totally undo years of abuse, learning how to do a proper stretching routine for your needs, combined with mobility work to help improve your flexibility can greatly reduce your chances of injury.

How many of you are currently incorporating stretching and mobility work into your daily workout routines?