Do You Really Need To Stretch Before Working Out? Georgia Man Learns Hard Lesson

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Arlando Palmer has always been one of those "go big or go home" guys when it comes to his workout.  So, when the 43-year old service technician felt a twinge in his lower back, he pushed through the pain.

"I went down one day to work out, and pick up one of my weights, my dumbbells,” Palmer says. “And that's when it hit."

 He had shooting pain coming from his lower back.

"It was like electricity shooting down my leg,” Palmer remembers.  “I couldn't stand up straight!"

His doctor sent Palmer here to PT Solutions in Marietta, where he met physical therapist Paul Muchnick.

"He was in pretty bad shape," Muchnick remembers. “He's the kind of guy you look at and think this guy is super strong."

But Palmer wasn't warming up, or stretching correctly. Which is how he got hurt.

"It's imperative to really loosen up well, at this age, when doing any type of exercise," he now says.

Muchnick taught Palmer to rethink his approach,  having him walk sideways -- even backwards -- on a treadmill,  loosening up and strengthening the smaller muscles that support his lower back.

"I think everyone wants to have the big, giant muscles,” Muchnick says. “And they leave out the stabilizing, the small movements, that can help prevent injury."

Palmer learned how to do "dynamic," or moving stretches, like leg swings, which he does with one leg standing on a box.

“One thing we suggest is standing on some type of elevated surface so that your hip doesn't strike the ground,” Muchnick says.

This low-intensity warm up gets the blood flowing to the muscles.

"We kind of joke with the scenario of a piece of meat,” Muchnick says. “ When you freeze a piece of meat, it's really tight.  But if you warm it up, you're really able to move it through its full range of motion."

He recommend a 10 to 15 minutes warm up.  You can ride a bike, walk, or even skip, Muchnick says.

“(Do) something to kind of get your body moving, not high-intense," he says.

It took 8 months for Arlando Palmer to fully recover.  Now he’s back to lifting weights.  But, he says, he’s working out smarter.