Resistance Stretching DIY Guide

Resistance Stretching DIY Guide

πŸ”„ Last updated: 17 April 2018
πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ English version

Dear friends,

Here is my Do It Yourself (DIY) guide to integrate Bob Cooley's Resistance Stretching (RS) methods into your life.

Table of Contents

About Resistance Stretching

Resistance Stretching is an exercise that makes use of opposing forces to stretch body parts with a slowly moving motion.Β It changes your fascia tissues and re-trains movement patterns improving strength and flexibility in an effective and efficient way. Physical pain due to limited flexibility can be safely removed and psychological and emotional scars can be treated in a sustainable way.

ℹ️ It is also known as Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training (RFST) or True Flexibility Training.

Here is a short video from the Genius of Flexibility centre from 2015.

Dr. Christiane Northrup’s Introduction to Bob Cooley and Resistance Flexibility (~4min)
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1 Prepare your Mind

Before rushing into the reading material or the exercises it is important to remind you that an open mindset is the first step towards successfully changing yourself.

Be prepared to try out new things and different methods, even if they don't seem conventional or intuitive.

Be ready to diverge from your default patterns - your typical behaviour, your routine thinking and your regular habits.

Autumn 2016 - Hitch-hiking in the Scottish highlands.

Be curious and keep looking out for new things to expand your horizon and enrich your perspectives.

Be aware that things can be hidden in a subtle way and therefore easily missed - especially when one is focused on a particular goal and has narrowed down his/her vision.

Remember that a small change (e.g. in your daily habits) can potentially make an impact on your life in the long run.

Don't let your ego control your self-esteem and constrain your thoughts.

Open your mind and heart to not miss any opportunities to step outside your comfort zone and to start changing your life!

πŸ“Œ Come back to these points every now and then if you need to. πŸ˜ƒ
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2 Inform Yourself

Start to get informed about the topics below to help you understand what Resistance Stretching is about and how it can improve your body, health and well-being.

2.1 Concepts of Resistance Stretching

  • How is flexibility defined in RS (true flexibility)?
  • How is a resistance stretch performed?
  • What can you watch out for when doing a stretch?
  • Where can you put your attention to during a stretch?
  • What is the aim of a resistance stretch? etc.

Resources for Information on RS

ℹ️ This is the site I stumbled-upon before buying Bob Cooley's book. The information on this site and Luther's self-stretch videos convinced me to give RS a try.

2.2 Get basic understanding about fascia

  • What is fascia?
  • What is its function?
  • Why doesn't it stay healthy?
  • How can it be changed and kept healthy?
  • What implications can dense or tight fascia tissues have for the body?
  • What does RS do to fascia tissues?
  • What is the purpose of Resistance Stretching training with regards to fascia?

Here is a short video that illustrates what fascia is.

What is Fascia? by (~2min)

2.3 Get familiar with basic human anatomy and bio-mechanics

  • Learn the terms describing locations of major muscle groups;
  • Understand balancing muscle groups,
  • how RS stretches are grouped into upper body and lower body muscle groups,
  • how human movement patterns can be analysed in three dimensional space;
  • understand that RS works on a movement pattern as well as a target muscle group.

2.4 Get basic understanding about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

  • Learn about the energy (Qi/Chi) meridian pathways and how to locate them;
  • Learn about the concept of balancing energies of yin and yang;
  • Read into the five element theory;
  • Recognise how the RS energy series correlates to the TCM meridian clock and
  • that static stretches or resistance stretches can be used to work energy meridians.
ℹ️ In Bob Cooley's RS, a few meridians have different names (Pancreas is Spleen, Skin is San jiao or Triple Warmer) and 4 additional meridians are added to the conventional 12 meridians usually found in TCM.

Remarks on Information

You don't have to inform yourself in all topics before trying out the stretch exercises. It can give you a new perspective and provide you with a bigger picture, as well as help you to advance in your journey. I would advice to alternate between learning about these topics and familiarising yourself with the RS exercises.

πŸ“Œ Remember to keep an open mindset, don't get discouraged by unfamiliar content and don't immediately discard unconventional ideas.
❗️ Also don't let your ego drag you down (thinking you can't do it) or put you up high on a pedestal (thinking there's nothing to be learnt from the topics).
ℹ️ Some of these topics are a whole profession on their own and the information found online could be out-dated or incomplete. I would advice to not blindly follow everything, but to take the content as guidelines and indications - the same applies to this guide. πŸ˜‰
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3 Do the Resistance Stretches

❗️ Note: Please consult your doctor if you think the exercises are not suitable for you and be aware that I cannot take responsibility for you trying out any of the exercises.

3.1 Your first Self-stretches

It may take some time to learn how to stretch a muscle while it is contracted. Once you've got the hang of it, you will know when you're doing it correctly. Sometimes you may even feel when dense fascia tissues are being loosened.

This experience of loosening up fascia is usually greatest when you resistance stretch dense fascia for the first time.

ℹ️ The release of dense fascia is one of the most satisfying feelings one can have!

Often people don't even know where they have tight fascia. Only after they try to resistance stretch certain muscle groups they are able to discover it.

So go ahead and try different stretches for the upper or lower body to see how it feels!

Intermediate level Bladder, Stomach, Thymus self-stretches (~5min)

Don't be discouraged if you don't feel anything when doing a particular stretch. Some of the possible reasons could be:

  • you are not contracting continuously;
  • the muscle is not strong enough;
  • there is so much accumulated dense fascia, that you have lost any sensation;
  • your attention was elsewhere;
ℹ️ Go to section Resources for RS Exercises for more stretches!

3.2 Working on your own Routine

You want to choose a particular set of stretches for the upper or lower body to start doing regularly.

The stretches can be very tiring and dehydrating. Make sure to rest and recover yourself fully. The recovery process from RS feels different than normal exercise or workout. Be cautious and don't over-exhaust yourself to the extent that it prevents you from living your daily life.

πŸ’‘ Keep a personal log book to maintain an overview of your progress!

If a stretch feels hard to do or if you find yourself not liking a specific stretch, it means that the muscle group is stiff and that you probably need to work that meridian muscle group.

Some of those tight areas you will be able to loosen up by stretching them out regularly. For others you will need to do more debugging work such as

  • to change different aspects of the stretch (e.g. strength, intensity, position etc.),
  • to redirect your attention (e.g. to your breath, emotions, inwards or outwards),
  • to strengthen the target muscles before resistance stretching them,
  • to work on the balancing muscle group,
  • to work on the counter-balancing muscle groups.
ℹ️ Insight into the RS concepts can help you to pick a routine and debug tight muscle groups!

The tightness in your body is part of you. It has been formed by you going through your life journey. Life styles, jobs, habits, thinking and behavioural patterns have all shaped you and make up your unique fascia structure, which naturally will have tight areas.

To name a few examples:

  • constant or repetitive physical work such as years of working as a waiter or waitress, practising and playing an instrument, etc.
  • prolonged non-activity such as sitting for hours (in school, at work or at home) can be signalling the body to neglect certain body parts;
  • being exposed to traumatic emotional or psychological experiences - this can be a single event or it could be gradually built up through consistent repetition of life-shaping actions, feelings, thoughts or behaviours.

3.3 Changing your Approach

If you have tried the above debugging options to a large extent on tough probem areas, you can try to approach them in a more indirect way.

In TCM the meridians are associated with certain behaviour, psychological traits, day time and season. The tightness in certain meridians is to some extent connected to particular characteristics. Changing the flexibility along the meridians will affect your habits and personality; and changing your habits and personality can have an effect on the tightness in specific meridians. If you can't achieve a physical change directly, it may help to approach it from a different, more subtle perspective.

πŸ’‘ Experiment with altering your daily routines (e.g. diet, sleep or working patterns) and see if it will affect your tight muscle groups.

3.4 Maintaining the new Flexibility

As you continue to loosen up tight fascia tissues, you will gradually notice how the previously difficult stretches become easier.

A smooth and controlled resistance stretch means that you have built up enough strength to properly work the fascia tissues and as a result they don't restrict your muscle movement anymore and your flexibility can be increased.

πŸ“Œ Remember: besides working the fascia regularly by maintaining the needed muscle strength, adapting healthier living patterns is equally important to making this new flexibility sustainable!

The feeling of having healthier fascia is hard to put in words as it can't be consciously felt or attributed to a specific noticeable change. Smoother fascia tissues can make itself noticed as subtle little surprises in many different ways.

I personally think healthier fascia changed me in to the following ways:

  • feeling more energised,
  • being able to move freely without worrying about hurting my joints,
  • being more spontaneous and open,
  • being pro-active and productive,
  • being more aware of my own emotions,
  • keeping a positive and bright attitude towards life,
  • feeling younger again etc.
ℹ️ For me it is surely one of the most liberating feelings I have experienced!

3.5 Towards the whole Energy Series

After you managed to remove your personal tight areas and adapt your routine and life style to maintain them healthy, you can keep looking for areas and aspects of life you want to improve.

By including the whole energy series in your routine you can explore your range of motion and flexibility of your whole body.

There are multiple stretches for each meridian muscle group; each stretch works a different part of the meridian and has a slightly different movement pattern.

The many available stretches can help you find areas that are hard to reach; and allow you to work neglected, underdeveloped muscle groups - which are usually hidden and harder to notice.

Intermediate RS class introducing 16 stretches for the energy series with Bob Cooley (23min)

I recommend a systematic approach through the energy series to cover all areas and movements. You can also include variations in your routine such as alternating or repeating cycles between stretches to avoid getting stuck with the same set of stretches.

❗️ Remember to rest and re-hydrate yourself and avoid over-exhaustion, which can prevent you from fulfilling your daily duties.

Resources for RS Exercises

ℹ️ You can also find several sets of stretches for the whole energy series in Bob Cooley's book Resistance Flexibility 1.0 and The Genius of Flexibility.
πŸ”’ I put Luther's stretches into a YouTube playlist available here.
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4 Going beyond Self-stretches

The self-stretches are a great tool to discover, diagnose and treat yourself and can be used to improve the health of your fascia tissues and change your life significantly.

ℹ️ See my article about how I got rid of my knee supports after discovering RS πŸ˜ƒ

While some things can only be done with self-stretches, there is only a certain amount that you can achieve by yourself. On the other hand, there are plenty of things to explore beyond the self-stretches.

πŸ“Œ Remember to keep an open mindset! ;)
  • Attend a RS class to connect with other individuals;
  • Learn about partner stretches to take RS to a completely new dimension;
  • Get a private stretch session to experience how your body can be stretched by an experienced trainer;
  • Attend a stretch workshop to review material, make connections and expand your knowledge;
  • Apply the RS principles to other exercise habits and workout routines;
  • Explore new stretches and new ways of stretching outside the Energy Series;
  • Tap into the depths of Traditional Chinese Medicine to get a new perspective on RS and how it connects to emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of your health;
  • Watch the interviews with the trainers on The Genius of Flexibility's YouTube channel to hear about their experiences with Resistance Stretching.
πŸ’‘ I found that each trainer has their own experience and a different insight into the practise. Hearing them talk about RS can give you confirmation on some of the topics or show you a different perspective from what you have learned so far.

Here is an example of a trainer interview:

Samuel Camburn - Trainer Spotlight (~3min)
ℹ️ The main Genius of Flexibility centres are in the US. There are also smaller companies opened from former trainers of the Genius of Flexibility, who offer RS services such as Bendable body. Try googling for the terms "resistance", "stretching", "meridian", "flexibility".
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About the Author

Chuen Tschi Liang discovered Resistance Stretching through Luther Cowden's website and YouTube videos in 2013 when he was looking for ways to prevent his persistent knee worries.

After a year of self-stretching and experimenting he managed to get rid of his knee supports all by himself - and Resistance Stretching was a key contributor.

ℹ️ He shared his experience in this article:

Being convinced that RS has the potential to improve his and other people's life in a significant and sustainable way, he continued his journey of gaining practical experience and theoretical knowledge in Resistance Stretching and related fields.

He had the opportunity to visit the Genius of Flexibility Centre in Boston, MA, USA once a year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and learned from different elite trainers.

Chuen Tschi attended level 1 certification in New York, NY, USA in February 2016 and level 2 certification in Santa Barbara, CA, USA in April 2017.

April 2017 - Group of level 2 certification participants in Santa Barbara, CA, USA

He started to introduce Resistance Stretching to family and friends in 2015, running self-stretch classes, partner stretch sessions and private stretch sessions in his leisure time. In 2016 he started a telegram channel about RS (@stretchwithchuen), which has currently more than 100 subscribers.

Stretch with Chuen Project

He is working on a life project to spread the Resistance Stretching knowledge to communities around the world, establishing meaningful connections and making a lasting impact on people's lives. A major aim of the project is to enable people to make use of the RS methods for the benefit of their local communities.

His plan is to stretch his cousin in San Francisco, CA, USA in April 2018.

In May 2018, he plans to be in Bali, Indonesia to spend time with friends and introduce RS to the Capoeira group.

From June 2018, he will be starting Resistance Stretching classes and sessions in Taoyuan, Taiwan and possibly Taipei, Taiwan for a planned duration of one year.


I'm currently staying in Union City, CA, USA.

Please feel free to contact me if you have feedback or questions regarding

  • this article,
  • Resistance Stretching or other DIY or health-related topics,
  • the Stretch with Chuen Project,
  • etc.

You can reach me via

πŸ“’ My public telegram channels are: @stretchwithchuen, @capoeirasongs, @chuen1
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πŸ™πŸ» Thank you for taking the time to read to the very end. If you're giving RS a try, I would love to hear from you and be part of your journey to change your life!

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