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Thread: Caveman didn't "stretch" (did they?)...if not, why do we? page

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    Dynamo's Avatar
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    Caveman didn't "stretch" (did they?)...if not, why do we?

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    First, my apologies if the answer to this is blatantly obvious or if the topic has been covered before. I did a search and didn't come up with much of anything in regards to this.

    I "study" all types of exercise modalities, although I am certainly drawn to the basic core of this "program". It makes the most sense and I certainly integrate the concepts in my movements of choice as well as my basic style of eating. I so appreciate what Mark has put together and to those of you who tiredlessly help others, via this forum.

    I woke up this morning thinking about our ancestors - and not even too far from the recent past. I thought about the "little house on the prairie" days. Those guys and gals engaged in physical labor from dusk till dawn and from near as I could tell, not a one of them got up in the morning and did a stretch routine. Maybe I am missing something?

    If you ponder other exercise modalities the concept of "stretching" (either before, during or after) the "movement" is almost always integrated. It also makes sense to me and it feels great. There are days that I "only" stretch. Of course, each and every "stretch" does involve muscle engagement (assuming one is actively stretching).

    What do you think? Does Mark promote stretching as part of the "blueprint"? If he did, it must have been subtle, or I simply missed it. If he does not, has he made any valid points for this? I really am curious and open to any "flip side" of this equation...

    Thanking you all in advance for your very insightful "take" on all of this. In the meantime, happy Grok'g!!!

    Diane

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    I have observed that Hunter-Gatherers don't seem to stretch before activity, but, if a little tense or sore after a hunt, will shake their limbs and stretch and massage the affected muscles afterwards. And, if they've been sat or stood in a certain position for a while, they will fidget and stretch their bodies before getting up/moving. Almost like a dog arching its back to relax it after a sleep.

    The reason most modern humans need to stretch is that we often go from inactivity (sitting/slowly walking) to intense activity (sprints, heavy weights...etc). Hunter-Gatherers don't do this. There will be a nice stretch after inactivity, followed by walking (and maybe some adrenaline pumping in as they psych-up for thee hunt), then a burst of intense activity (hunting) followed by moderate weightlifting (taking it home).

    I feel a gentle warm-up works best before activity, a light shake and massage to any sore muscles afterwards and a good stretch or two (typically spine and legs) whenever I first start moving or first sit/lie down.
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    I am not sure about cavemen, but stretching is pretty natural in the animal world. A dog/wolf will do a "play bow" to initiate, and I'd imagine it also to activate the back muscles before a strenuous wrestling match. Big cats also stretch frequently, even performing an isometric exercise of sorts that, along with sprinting/jumping and a heavy meat diet, is probably responsible for muscular development to stay ready for the big hunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamo View Post
    I woke up this morning thinking about our ancestors - and not even too far from the recent past. I thought about the "little house on the prairie" days. Those guys and gals engaged in physical labor from dusk till dawn and from near as I could tell, not a one of them got up in the morning and did a stretch routine. Maybe I am missing something?
    If you study actual hunter gatherer societies, you find that they don't work from dusk to dawn. They work the minimal time it takes to maintain their simple lifestyles, generally +only a few hours a day. They have plenty of time to socialize and play.

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    Al_Kavadlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickson View Post
    I am not sure about cavemen, but stretching is pretty natural in the animal world. A dog/wolf will do a "play bow" to initiate, and I'd imagine it also to activate the back muscles before a strenuous wrestling match. Big cats also stretch frequently, even performing an isometric exercise of sorts that, along with sprinting/jumping and a heavy meat diet, is probably responsible for muscular development to stay ready for the big hunt.
    +1

    Also consider that while cavemen may not have done much formal stretching, they didn't spend most of their waking life sitting in a chair.
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

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    Being human, I imagine that Grok and his buds argued about stretching also. For myself, I've observed "serious" athletes doing elaborate stretch routines and just laugh. I do some pretty intense bike rides for my age, and rarely stretch. Sometimes I need to during a ride to loosen up a tense spot, but that's it. Extreme exertion is another matter - I try to stretch afterwards so I won't have to hobble around for a couple of days after.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
    +1

    Also consider that while cavemen may not have done much formal stretching, they didn't spend most of their waking life sitting in a chair.
    I think the word "formal" is informative here. Of course cavemen stretched.

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    Some good points raised here - I'd also add that there is a broad misconception that 'cavemen' automatically enjoyed a better standard of functional movement than modern day man (or woman). While much has been made of the differences in health due to dietary factors, it's important to recognise that exercise science continues to evolve (irrespective of whether the general population take any notice). Put simply, we have the knowledge and expertise to far exceed the health and fitness of any generation that has gone before us. We just need to brush away the crap and keep the good stuff.

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    Dynamo's Avatar
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    All good points...and well taken.

    So, I think we would all agree - for the most part - that stretching of sorts was likely a part of the "caveman" era. I do like the example of what not-human mammals engage in I also take full "note" of the fact that "stretching" in more modern times has grown into more of requirement due to the stationary life-style so many engage in. I am not immune to this life-style. (Sitting for long periods of time, for one thing. Also, producing tension in my upper back/neck/shoulders from being on the computer for long periods of time).

    I certainly appreciate all of your well-thought out responses. Interestingly enough, no one has quoted any thing that Mark himself has said on this topic - I wonder if he ever had???

    Again, thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts on this topic, with me today!!!

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    I am with RichMahogany. Of course they stretched. Even the little house on the prairie kinda pre-industrial agrarian ancestors did, if not a conscious routine.

    My cats don't move after waking from a nap without first stretching. I thought this was like a common thing. I stretch similarly just when I wake up or get out of a chair. It can't be some kind of modern hypnotically-commanded memetic replication behavior that is entirely learned, like reading or something. It is a property of bodies with joints and musculature.
    "Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature, starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the hunting monsters."

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