DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I golf in a foursome twice a week. One of our members goes through a series of stretches that look peculiar and draw a great deal of attention from other golfers. I tell him he looks like a fool. He says he stretches to prevent injuries and to make himself more flexible when he swings the club. Does all this really do him any good? – M.S.

ANSWER:
For years I was a strong believer in the value of stretching before any sporting activity. I thought it was a good way to prevent injuries, stay loose and warm the body. I am no longer a believer.

More and more evidence indicates that the belief that stretching is mandatory holds no water. It does not prevent injuries. (That information comes from training Army recruits.) It has little influence on muscle performance. It does not warm body tissues. I have abandoned it.

There is a place for stretching in many sports and many physical endeavors. Ballet, for example, demands great flexibility, and without it a person could never hope to be a ballet dancer.

Gymnastics are another activity where stretching and flexibility are demanded.

For a golfer, I don’t think that stretches do much good, if any. If your friend is fixated on the idea, let him alone. More good often comes from what a person believes than from what the exercise actually accomplishes.

One last word: Warm-ups are essential prior to athletic participation. Warm-ups are not the same as stretches. Jogging in place is an example of a warm-up. Warm-ups get blood flowing to muscles, joints and ligaments and do seem to cut down on the chances of muscle and joint injuries.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My grandson, who will be 16 in August, has been skateboarding since he was 12. He has a sponsor and skates at many shows.

My concern is what skateboarding might be doing to his growing bones, what with all the slamming on his ankles, knees and hips.

He lives in Australia but will be here in June for a visit. I want to show my daughter what you have to say. Love your column. – H.A.

ANSWER:
You might not love it after what I am about to say.

I cannot think of any good reasons nor have I seen any written evidence that skateboarding is harmful to bones, joints, tendons or ligaments. I don’t mean injury-caused harm. I mean ordinary harm from executing the unbelievable feats skateboarders can do.

If the boy wears protective pads — which, I understand, are mandatory at all sanctioned events — his skateboarding is OK in my book.

I cannot think of many other sports that develop balance or sharpen reaction time as much as skateboarding does.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My son is into bodybuilding, and he has done a magnificent job in shaping his body. He looks like Michelangelo’s statue of David. Now he insists on eating raw eggs. He eats six or more every day. I don’t think this is healthy, but he insists many bodybuilders do it. Am I wrong to try to discourage the raw-egg-eating? – M.F.

ANSWER:
You’re right in trying to discourage eating raw eggs. Raw eggs can be a source of food poisoning. Cooking them removes that danger.

Furthermore, even though the laws on egg-eating for cholesterol control have been relaxed, six or more eggs in one day are far too many. He could be setting himself up for clogged arteries at an early age. He must stop this practice.

I don’t know why eating raw eggs ever became such a favored ritual with bodybuilders. Eggs are a good source of protein, but cooking them does not destroy their protein content.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.



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