According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-quarter of Americans over the age of 40 take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug in the attempt to prevent cardiovascular disease. But—as I’ve reported many times over the years—these drugs are not only ineffective, they’re also toxic.
Plus, you have far safer and more effective options…In fact, according to a new study published in the Journal of Physiology, doing some light stretching can help reverse the signs of cardiovascular disease in just 12 weeks!
I’ll tell you all about that important study in a moment. But first, let’s back up and talk about why this kind of study doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves…
The study of human physiology is the basis of all natural healing
Physiology is the study of how the human body works—including the biology, chemistry, and physics behind basic body functions. And it’s the foundation of natural and osteopathic medicine, which both emphasize the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
By comparison, in recent decades, modern, mainstream medical education, research, and practice relies more and more on dangerous drugs and invasive, surgical procedures. But these approaches often cause more harm than good. And if they do work, they typically only temporarily mask a problem rather than find a root cause—and therefore, don’t really fix anything.
In fact, back in 2007, I joined a delegation of faculty, students, and alumni from the University of Pennsylvania in protest at the meeting of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington, D.C. (Dean Rubenstein, the former dean of Penn’s medical school, led our group.)
We went to protest big pharma’s plan to donate money to medical schools to “help” them reorganize their curriculum and further emphasize prescribing drugs! (As if it needed any further emphasis.) Of course, big pharma’s reorganization also meant de-emphasizing physiology.
Penn and a handful of other top medical schools refused big pharma. But most of the other schools just took the money and complied.
In the ensuing years, the few remaining universities with independent physiology departments also started to crumble…
Seven years ago, even Georgetown University, where I taught in the medical and graduate schools, closed down their physiology department and transferred faculty either to the biochemistry department or the pharmacology department.
So, is it any wonder that when you visit a young doctor or physician’s assistant (P.A.) today with a medical issue, he or she is more likely to hand you a drug prescription…rather than recommend a safe, effective physiological approach that utilizes the body’s ability to heal itself?
And that point brings me back to the new study I mentioned at the beginning of this Dispatch…
Passive stretching improves cardiovascular system in just 12 weeks
For this new study, researchers at the University of Milan, Italy, enlisted 39 healthy men and women and divided them into two groups.
The “treatment” group was assigned to perform “passive” leg stretches five times a week for 12 weeks. Whereas the control group did no “passive” leg stretching.
(Passive is different from regular, active stretching exercises, in that you must employ another person—or gravity—to apply the pressure and stretch your muscles, while you relax.)
The researchers evaluated the participants’ vascular function and arterial stiffness, which are important markers of cardiovascular health, in both the legs and arms, at the study’s outset and again after 12 weeks.
It turns out, the group that performed “passive” leg stretching for 12 weeks experienced an increase in the diameter of the arteries in both the lower leg and upper arm after 12 weeks. Plus, they had improved blood flow and decreased arterial stiffness in both areas.
Now, there are a few major takeaways from this study…
First, it illustrates the tremendous potential for something as simple, inexpensive, and non-invasive as stretching to prevent heart disease—the No. 1 cause of death in this country. And perhaps it may also help improve other conditions that impair the vascular system too, like Type II diabetes. So, in my view, every primary care doctor, cardiologist, and endocrinologist should suggest it to their patients as a way to reduce the risk of developing chronic disease.
Second, it’s interesting to note that stretching in just the legs improved arterial function in both the legs and arms. So, clearly, stretching generally benefits the entire circulatory system!
Make sure to find a good therapist
As I briefly mentioned earlier, with passive stretching, you must employ gravity or another person to apply the pressure and stretch your muscles while you relax.
When employing gravity, you can try bending forward and just hanging there. This will help relax and stretch your back and arms. It will also give a gentle, natural “adjustment” and alignment to your spine. Just be sure you feel supported before trying this exercise…and always ask a partner for support if you feel unstable.
You can also hold weighted objects in your hands and just let your arms relax, hang down, and stretch out. Additionally—you can sit in a spot where your feet don’t touch the ground and let your legs dangle loosely. Again, this will help stretch and relax your leg muscles. In the shower, with hot water relaxing your back and spinal muscles, bend at the waist, let your arms hang down, and let the force of gravity pull down your upper body.
Of course, you’ll get even more benefits from employing a body worker or massage therapist to perform the passive stretching.
Indeed, stretching is a routine part of traditional Chinese massage. And it’s one of five key modalities in traditional Swedish massage.
However, I find most masseuses today don’t incorporate passive stretching into their sessions. Instead, they focus mainly on the modality called “kneading,” whereby they rub and push your tissues, sliding along the planes of connective tissue and muscle. So, just make sure you specifically ask for “passive stretching” when making your appointment.
Of course, during the pandemic lockdown, some patients opted to visit more costly physical therapists (PTs)—since massage therapists were not deemed essential.
And in my experience, most PTs do know a lot and teach a lot to the patient. They also do a reasonable job rehabilitating specific injuries.
But visiting a PT for general health is far more costly and less beneficial than getting a massage or bodywork. Plus, PTs often omit the most fundamental aspect of healing the body…actually laying hands on the patient. (In fact, even before the pandemic hit, most PTs seemed to follow the rule, “thou shalt not touch the patient.” So, instead of actually administering therapy, they tell the patient what to do and then simply watch and “coach.”)
In the end, just remember, the human body is amazingly resilient and routinely repairs itself. So, no matter what your age, you can stay completely free of cardiovascular disease by making some simple lifestyle changes…like engaging in some passive stretching a few times a week.
For more insight into natural ways to protect your cardiovascular system as you get older, I encourage you to check out my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. This innovative, online learning tool outlines the natural, heart-healing pathway to low blood pressure, a stroke-free brain, and never taking a dangerous heart medication again. To learn more, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Evidence for improved systemic and local vascular function after long‐term passive static stretching training of the musculoskeletal system.” The Journal of Physiology, 2020; doi.org/10.1113/JP279866