Stretching key to a healthy body Cross-Canada trekker claims he cheated death through exercises

By Dave Lammers
The Chronicle-Journal, Thunder Bay, Tuesday, August 17, 1999.

Jacques Gauthier is a death cheater who says he can help others live longer too.

The 60-year-old from Montreal stopped in Thunder Bay Monday on a cross-Canada walking tour to promote the health benefits of stretching.

Ten years ago a bedridden Gauthier – suffering from a neurological disease called vasculitis – stopped taking all doctor-prescribed medication and decided to follow a Quebec lumberjack’s advise to stretch his muscles to get rid of the pain.

Today, he’s walking eight to 10 hours a day and talking about what he says is a cure for everything from arthritis to rheumatism, lower back pain and more serious afflictions.

« People were coming to me and saying, ‘Jacques, we thought you were dying, what happened to you?' » he said.

Gauthier, who can bend his body like a pretzel, said before he started stretching he was a quadriplegic and was suffering from osteoporosis as result of taking cortisone.

After he stopped taking medication – he claims to have spent $25,000 on drugs – he developed arthritis and was bedridden for six months.

« I said, ‘if God wants me in a wheelchair, I prefer it’s going to be because of the disease and not the medication.' »

But after stretching daily for three weeks, he said, he became almost pain free and could walk again. He continued the daily exercises which include every muscle from head to toe – often stretching for four hours a day.

« I got off three incurable diseases just by stretching, » said Gauthier.

He said stretching improves blood circulation and restores energy to the body, building up the immune system to fight disease.