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PEOPLE OFTEN ASK ME, “IS THERE SUCH A THING AS AN EXERCISE RUT?”. THEY WANT TO KNOW WHY THEY DO NOT SEEM TO BE IMPROVING WITH THEIR EXERCISE PROGRAM. They exercise 3-4 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes and they feel frustrated and STUCK in a rut.

The purpose of this column is to offer suggestions to improve or get more out of a “stale” exercise program. Last week’s column offered tips to improve a stale cardiovascular and strength program. We will discuss flexibility and functional training tips, including the components necessary for a healthy mind, body and spirit connection.


Flexibility training involves the careful stretching of the muscles, tendons and joints to improve range of motion in order to safely perform daily activities and sports without injuring or tearing soft tissues. It is probably the most neglected part of the fitness program. However, while the amount of inherent flexibility varies for each person, a minimal range is necessary as it relates to daily activities and sports. For example, as you age it is important to have enough flexibility in your back, hips and knees to wash your feet, put shoes and socks on. After a warm –up activity, perform flexibility exercises slowly and gently. There are two types of flexibility exercises; dynamic and static. Perform dynamic stretching with movement such as pushing the ankle up and down like a gas pedal. Complete passive stretching using an outside force, such as a towel to pull the ankle up to stretch the calf. Dynamic should be performed before an activity (before running or playing tennis) and static performed after the activity is over in order to increase range of motion for future activities.

Improving a Flexibility Training Program:

Hamstring Wall Stretch
½ Cobra Lower Back Stretch

STEP TWO: Mind, Body, Spirit; Nutrition; Core Fitness; Functional/Sports Specific Training; Leisure Sports and Activities

In order to prevent an exercise program from getting stale, one must incorporate all aspects of wellness…a healthy mind, body and spirit!


It is easy for fitness enthusiasts to get so focused on maintaining a routine that they allow their program to become stale and ineffective. It is essential to reassess and update your program to prevent stagnation.

Make sure the routine has all three fundamental components of a well-balanced exercise program; cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. Moreover, to be truly healthy, one must work toward a “Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit. Therefore, in addition to traditional exercise one must incorporate the following: nutrition; meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, core fitness; functional/sports specific training; leisure sports and activities

In order to prevent an exercise program from getting stale, one must incorporate all aspects of wellness…a healthy mind, body and spirit!

While each component offers its own specific benefit, the combination of all three cooperatively provides unique value. Too often, fitness enthusiasts concentrate on the exercises they LIKE or are good at more than the ones they NEED.

Sources: National Institutes of Health; American Council on Exercise

Model: Lily Smith, Physical Therapy Student, University of Scranton, PT aide, Mackarey Physical Therapy

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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!