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Review: Muscle Medicine by Rob DeStephano and Joseph Hooper 
4th-Dec-2011 03:05 pm
running, shoes
Muscle Medicine: The Revolutionary Approach to Maintaining, Strengthening, and Repairing Your Muscles and JointsMuscle Medicine: The Revolutionary Approach to Maintaining, Strengthening, and Repairing Your Muscles and Joints by Rob DeStefano

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is based around an intriguing premise: that many cases of joint pain (especially such prevalent complaints as knee, lower back, and shoulder pain) are actually caused by tight or damaged muscles, and that fixing the underlying muscle problems through a combination of stretching, massage, and muscle strengthening can sometimes cure these types of chronic pain without surgery or more invasive treatments. (An interesting illustration: if you do MRI scans on people without back pain, you'll actually find that slightly more than half of them have bulging or herniated discs or other minor spinal damage. The difference between these asymptomatic people and people with back pain seems to be that in the asymptomatic people, the core muscles are doing a good enough job of supporting the spine in good alignment that the damage doesn't lead to pain.)

The most novel aspect of this book is a particular stretching technique that the authors have developed in which you use gentle pressure to pin down a muscle at a certain point along its length, and then stretch. (For example, to stretch the illiotibial band, you'd apply pressure on the outside of your thigh a couple of inches above the knee, and then straighten the leg to stretch. You repeat the stretch, gradually moving the pressure up the leg.) I've been dabbling with the technique, and while I can't say it's been revolutionary, it certainly does give you a very thorough stretch. It's also a bit tedious and time consuming to really thoroughly stretch yourself out in this way. LIke many people, I'm lazy about stretching. If I were less half-assed about following the program, I'd be able to give it a fairer review. (My own chronic aches and pains are minor enough that I haven't yet been fully motivated to implement the whole program to the letter.)

The caveat here, which the authors freely acknowledge, is that these sorts of injury prevention and rehab techniques are difficult to impossible to evaluate in double-blind controlled scientific studies. The evidence for this stuff working is more anecdotal than solidly scientific. However, none of the exercises in the book seem likely to do anyone any harm, and they don't require expensive equipment. (Most of them require no equipment at all - there are a few that use a Swiss ball or things like that.) The biggest investment you'll need to make is the time and effort involved in learning the exercises.

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5th-Dec-2011 10:11 am (UTC)
That pressure-above-the-knee thing sounds a bit like one of the exercises my physical therapist had me doing years ago. Actually, a lot of this sounds like stuff my various physical therapists would agree with. I'll have to check it out.
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