Stretch Yourself: First, Fix Faults, Part II

This column continues the subject of fixing faults for a great and lasting performance improvement. My observations tell me that the key to that improvement is not in trying harder but in removing obstacles, for example, posture defects, technical errors, or bad nutrition habits.

So, here is another example how fixing faults pays more than overcoming them. The example was provided by Dr. Richard J. Vahl, MSc, DC, Ph.D.

Back in the 1990′s I was invited by a colleague to guest lecture as a visiting scholar at San Diego State University on Kinesiology. After giving a lecture on posture and athletic performance, a large student approached me to further discuss my lecture. He said he had been a weight field events athlete and had returned from training at the Olympic Training Center and wanted to compete in the upcoming Olympic trials and interested if I could offer any help. After some discussion we went out to the field with his discus. He made a few throws after warming up while I evaluated his posture and throwing form making a few suggestions. Then we went into the training room where I worked on balancing out his structure and muscles as well as having him do a few exercises. Then we went back out on the field. He warmed up again and took a few more throws bettering his personal best record by just over 6 feet. He couldn’t believe the results.

I have to point out that was only a temporary correction at that point because his body would want to return back to how it was and it would take more work over time to make the corrections last. However, it certainly demonstrated your point that by “First, Fixing the Faults” you can make some real improvements in athlete's performance.

Richard J. Vahl, MSc, DC, Ph.D.

And yet another example, not from an international-level competition. The man in this example is more unhealthy than the young taekwondo player described in the previous column, but he wants to get better. Here is what he wrote:
I am overweight (also diabetic and flat footed) and am trying to lose weight while taking martial arts classes. The lack of flexibility in my muscles and joints as well as my weight are great hindrances. Moreover, many of the exercises feel brutal since I am far from fit and have begun to feel joint pain in my left ankle, especially from kicks.

Committed to losing weight and being active, I nevertheless feel that I am straining my body because I don't think I am standing correctly, finding my center of gravity, [and I am] overstretching or straining my muscles. I am in need of someone (kinesiotherapist?) who can look at my body, my posture, and walk me through an exercise and stretching regimen while knowing when not to push beyond a certain limit so I can participate in these activities without damaging myself or giving up.
Below is my reply to him.

Here are addresses of sites where you may find a specialist to treat you: (my preferred method of treatment)

Note that excellent physical therapists and sports physicians are trained in more than one of the above methods.
You may also read the following articles on injuries and on posture posted at

By the way, I think that this principle of fixing faults first applies to all aspects of health and fitness. For example, ceasing to eat bad stuff (sweets, bread and most grain products, too many carbs, too much protein, wrong fats, medicated meat, eggs from abused hens, artificial additives) helps more than eating any supplements could. It helps more than any medicine, too.

Thomas Kurz is an athlete, a physical education teacher, and a judo instructor and coach. He studied at the University School of Physical Education in Warsaw, Poland (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego). He is the author of Stretching Scientifically, Science of Sports Training: How to Plan and Control Training for Peak Performance, Secrets of Stretching, and Basic Instincts of Self-Defense. He also writes self-defense tips posted at If you have any questions on training, you can post them at Stadion's Sports and Martial Arts Training Discussion Forum at
AUG. 22. 2011. TaeKwonDoTimes.