The Self-Healing Benefits of Stretching by Jacques Gauthier, July 2005
I just finished walking across the United States. It feels wonderful to have fulfilled my dream of being the first person to walk around North America (I had already crossed Canada several years ago).
What feels even better, however, is to hear of all the people who have started stretching when they learned of me and my story. That was the purpose of my walk – to let people know that they don’t have to live with pain, that by stretching they can become healthier and happier. It’s so easy and it works!
Stretching is one of the most powerful self-healing techniques there is and best of all is that it’s free. I love to tell people that there is only one side effect to stretching, and that is flexibility! I didn’t invent stretching, of course. It’s as old as mankind. And yet, when I started to teach stretching, no one had heard about it. That shows you what unhealthy lives we had been living.
We are just starting to learn about the most basic things – and most important things – that we can do for our health. Now just about everyone knows something about stretching.
They Told Me I Was Going to Be a Quadriplegic!
I found out about stretching the hard way. Sixteen years ago my doctors told me to buy a wheelchair and prepare for being a quadriplegic for the rest of my life. I was crippled by vasculitis, arthritis and osteoporosis. The pain was so severe that I could barely move. My wife had to help me get out of bed in the morning, help me shower and help me with everything I had to do. All I could do on my own was lie in bed, meditate and pray.
I Started Stretching — the Results were Amazing!
Finally, someone told me about a healer. I traveled many miles to see him and he told me I had to stretch to get well. This is not what I wanted to hear! Any movement was extremely painful and my doctors had told me I could not do exercises. But the healer told me if I didn’t stretch, I would never get well.
I had to decide what to do and I decided to give it a try. It was my only hope. It was extremely painful at first, but within 6 weeks I had regained 50% of my function and in 7 months of intense stretching I was back to normal!
My Wife, Dorothée Started Stretching — Back Pain Gone!
The amazing result that I got from stretching made me want to learn more, so I bought many books on the subject. My wife Dorothée also started stretching. She had been suffering with back pain for many years and when she saw the improvement in me, she thought she’d try it for herself. Her back pain began to improve and after one year she was completely free of pain.
Other People Wanted to Learn and We Began to Teach.
Then we started experimenting with other people because people were coming and asking me how I could be in such a good shape after how sick I had been. People were thinking that I was dying and all of a sudden I seemed to be in better shape than any of them. They asked me what was happening. I told them I had learned stretching and this is how it all started – they wanted to learn too!
We started to teach stretching with all kinds of books and ideas from health specialists. Many health care professionals have taken my courses. They learn from me and I learn from them and we keep improving the courses. We studied with some people who knew about breathing, and combined this with the stretches. I love to teach stretching because I learn more by teaching!
Stretching Reduces Pain by Reducing Inflammation.
By putting together different ideas, we realized that the stretching exercises become anti-inflammatory. I talked to many health care providers about this and they said this made sense. They observed the effects of stretching with their patients and found it to be true. This explains why stretching reduces pain. Inflammation causes pain, and when the inflammation is gone, the pain is gone.
How You Stretch is Important.
For the anti-inflammatory effect, however, it is extremely important how you stretch. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury. If we don’t exercise properly we can cause injury. Even stretching, if not done properly, can increase inflammation. It is important to move slowly in and out of the stretches, paying attention to your body and letting it tell you when to stop. I have found that breathing slowly and deeply, as well as holding the stretches for about 30 seconds, is the key to stretching being anti-inflammatory. (Read more about how to stretch.)
Through our studies, Dorothée and I came up with 15 basic stretches that take about 15-20 minutes a day to do. We made a video with these stretches, and when the health specialists in my country reviewed it they said that with only those 15 basic, simple stretching exercises we could stretch 95% of the muscles in our body. They said this was very important because they felt that to be healthy we should be doing some kind of exercise that would be using all of our muscles everyday just to keep them alive. With the kind of life we are living in the 21st century, most people are not using all of their muscles!
These same health specialists in the eastern part of Canada started to recommend our DVD to their patients. It started with chiropractors and acupuncturists and then a few doctors got involved. They bought our video and experimented with it themselves before they recommended it. By now I would say that about 80% of the DVDs that we sell through stores in Eastern Canada are sold due to doctor or health specialist recommendations.
By now we have taught stretching to thousands of people in Canada and Europe, and many more have learned stretching from the DVD. We continue to receive thank you letters and reports about the wonderful results that people are getting.
How Long Does it Take to Get Results?
Most people notice some results within the first week and the benefits grow with time. With a serious condition it can take months and years for the problem to resolve, but even very serious problems can be healed through stretching. I know this because I’ve seen people do it. It’s not that they go to a healer and the healer heals them; it’s because they started the stretching and kept on doing it.
The more you stretch a day, the faster the results come, but for most people 15 to 20 minutes is enough to make a big difference. In the case of a woman who healed herself from multiple sclerosis, it took her a total of two years and she was stretching an hour a day. She is still well 10 years later. Now she does yoga, she plays golf all summer, she goes downhill skiing all winter — she is in better shape than everybody in her family and surroundings!
People Get Wonderful Benefits from Stretching.
I have seen from my own experience and the reports of so many people that I’ve taught, that stretching is extremely beneficial. People tell me their pain goes away, they have more energy and they are able to start doing all kinds of things they had stopped doing due to stiffness and pain. Beyond that, people have even reported recovery from many problems that are not considered curable:
In addition to the woman mentioned above who recovered from multiple sclerosis, people have reported results in healing arthritis, headaches, back/neck/shoulder pain, bursitis, depression, fatigue and even conditions like fibromyalgia.
The body has a tremendous ability to heal, but we have to help it along by taking proper care of it. Stretching is one of the easiest and most effective self-healing tools that I know of. That, along with good food and relaxation is what I like to call the “immune triangle.” Take care of those things and you will take care of your health!