For those of you who don’t know who he is, Dr. Kelly Starrett is a CrossFit trainer and physical therapist who wrote a best-selling book in 2013 called Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury and Optimizing Athletic Performance. He runs a blog called Mobility WOD (Workout Of the Day) that provides tonnes of free information on how to look after yourself, stretch and generally be awesome. The problem with his site is that it’s difficult to navigate round and find specific things. which is why the book is so great. This was the very first book I ever bought that was to do with physical therapy and muscle release and it started me down a long path. This book by Kelly Starrett does exactly what it says on the tin – it shows you how to become more supple, flexible, how to heal yourself if you are hurt and most importantly, how to prevent that from happening in the first place!
Starret’s easy to read style is a bit outweighed at first with all the technical jargon, but don’t be put off by this if you’re not interested in why it all works. If you’re like I was when I first got the book, you’ll want to skip all that and just get straight to the meat of it. You don’t need to read the beginning to get everything you want out of this book, but the part on posture is worth reading. However if you’re like I am now, with a grounding in muscles and how the body works, Starrett’s intro is a really easy read and gives lots of helpful advice and understanding.
Isn’t it just for athletes?
No. Remember how physical therapy isn’t just for sportspeople? It is geared for athletes as that’s who Starrett primarily works with, but anyone can get an awful lot from this book. Becoming a Supple Leopard will help you squat more weight, run faster, jump further and throw without wrecking your shoulders, sure, but it will also teach you how to stand better, sit properly and avoid many of the common pitfalls that destroy us in the 21st Century. If you sit at a desk all day, you need this book. If you drive a lorry all day, you need this book. If you are a professional athlete, you need this book. If you sit, stand, run, walk or move at all, guess what – you need this book.
You’ll be amazed at how easy Starrett makes taking care of your body. Unlike many books with lists of stretches, Becoming a Supple Leopard shows lots of new ways to stretch and mobilise your joints, that actually work! Static stretching, the classic stretching everyone does, achieves very little for me and I’ve always been about as flexible as concrete. After using some of the techniques shown in Starrett’s book I was finally able to touch my toes! Not a major achievement for many, but a huge milestone for me.
What will I need?
The book, obviously, and a tennis/lacrosse/golf ball. Tennis ball is for you beginners, lacrosse is the intermediate and a golf ball is for you hardcore people – choose wisely. You’ll also need a therapy band. Other than that, you’re set. You can either work through each part of your body that’s sore, but remembering that every part of your body is connected, you might be better off doing a full-body routine, really focusing on any uncomfortable areas. Prepare to learn a lot about yourself and to begin to really think about how you use your body.
This book was an absolute game-changer for me. It showed me just how easy it can be to take care of yourself and the immediate impact it can have and is something I’ve referred back to many times – even before I started as a therapist.
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