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Flexibility Training Support Group

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Flexibility Training Support Group

 

Since a lot of us suddenly have a lot more time to fill at home, let's have a little flexibility training club! We can post videos of warm-ups, progress photos/videos, ask for recommendations, or just lament about how horrible it all is sometimes. This conversation started in the Assassin's Den, but it seems like we should just have a support group about it. 😉

 

🤸‍♀️

 

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Hell yes :) I'll be happy to just be able to "V sit and reach" well past my feet at the end of this challenge, but being (digitally) surrounded by people excited about flexibility makes working on my goals more fun :D  (Last time I measures I was a negative half a centimeter. Would be nice to get it to a positive 1 centimeter. That should be doable for one month of probably not stretching every day? For someone that is starting out pretty stiff?)

 

PS - I can already say that because of NF, I changed my mind set when working on hip openers. It still sucks majorly but I am breathing through it more willingly :D  Might even get a habit going some time in the foreseeable future.

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Ooh, exciting! I don't know if I'm going to do anything with this now, but I will definitely be filing all the awesome away for later use and cheering everyone else on, if nothing else. 😊

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Thanks for the invite @Mad Hatter

 

I have always considered myself a lost cause when it comes to flexibility because I am the most hypomobile* person I know.  At east I always thought so.  After seeing @Suzaqu's pics I realized that my comparisons against "flexy people" were unfair. I may be extremely inflexible in some respects, but in others I am actually relatively flexible.   This has given me some new motivation to work on my weak spots, even though if I am honest I don't actually believe I am going to get much better than I currently am.  

 

 * I don't know if this is a word but it should be

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6 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

if I am honest I don't actually believe I am going to get much better than I currently am.  

Not with that attitude you won't. :P 

 

Keep in mind that while it is possible to make quick improvements in some cases*, flexibility is a long term endeavour. A reasonable timescale to expect decent results is 18 months, not weeks. Over a shorter term you're looking at tiny gains, a cm here, more ease there. But to get to your "next level" so to speak it requires patience and consistency. 

 

18 hours ago, analoggirl said:

That should be doable for one month of probably not stretching every day? For someone that is starting out pretty stiff?)

Absolutely. But I do not recommend stretching every day. 1-2 times per week of hard flexibility training is plenty, especially in the beginning. Flexy training is very much like strength training in that the body needs recovery time. On off days it's great to simply try and use more of your range of motion in daily life to reinforce the idea that you need more flexibility.

 

19 hours ago, starsapart said:

Also, backbend and middle splits routines, gimme.

I need to come up with a new backbend routine that works for my current body. I used to have some kind of system, roughly split up into more cobra focused backbending and more bridge focused backbending. But now I'm much less bendy and it doesn't work the same anymore. 😭If you want to I can share my experiments in putting something together. 

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25 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Absolutely. But I do not recommend stretching every day. 1-2 times per week of hard flexibility training is plenty, especially in the beginning.

 

Thanks for the affirmation. What's "hard flexibility training"? Can you give me an example, eg Youtube video, if you have the time when you see this post?

 

Currently I am aiming to stretch 1-2 different areas every day. I was going to work up to doing a whole or half of the program at ONCE every day, but apparently what I'm currently doing is even the recommended route... (Especially in the beginning) Alright... Now I'm really glad I asked haha

 

25 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Flexy training is very much like strength training in that the body needs recovery time. On off days it's great to simply try and use more of your range of motion in daily life to reinforce the idea that you need more flexibility.

 

Yesss that's actually what I've been trying to do! Like when I pick up things I try to not bend at the knee more often, or when I'm doing workouts etc I try to use my range of motion.

How interesting. This is going to be fun!

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49 minutes ago, analoggirl said:

Thanks for the affirmation. What's "hard flexibility training"? Can you give me an example, eg Youtube video, if you have the time when you see this post?

Good question. There's a lot of different ways to stretch, so "hard" can mean many things. But think of it as approaching the training with the intent to improve flexibility and to be present and to push yourself. The same stretch can be both very effective and completely useless depending on how you perform it. Sometimes you see people in the gym doing cool down stretches because "they should" and so they tug on their foot for a few seconds and call it a quad stretch. It's a complete waste of time.* It's akin to strength training without ever picking up a heavier dumbbell.

 

If that's too wishy-washy, there's also the physical component. Even if you do a "passive stretch"** you should never*** just sit there and chill. Instead you're constantly checking in with your form, trying to push a tiny bit deeper while always engaging the muscles that need to be engaged so that you're still in control. It's hard physically. Not always in the grunty kind of way, but you should feel your muscles working hard. Both for safety and to be able to go deeper into a stretch. Which means that your muscles and ligaments and nervous system all need plenty of recovery time in between sessions. 

 

As for videos, I'll see what I can find. My knowledge is an accumulation of years of collecting underpants from a lot of different people, and I haven't really tried any of the follow along videos that are available as they're too cookie cutter in my book. But some of my current favorite resources with loads of free online content are Jen Crane aka Cirque Physio, Emmet Louis aka The Splits Wizard and Catie Brier contortion for more advanced stuff.

 

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* 👆Not stretching. For the purpose of improving flexibility. It can however be useful as a signal to the brain that it's time to calm down and enter recovery mode.

**No passive stretching is not bad.

***Again, for the purpose of improving flexibility. If you're one of the few people that enjoys it, and you're not on the hyper mobile side of things it can be useful for relaxation purposes.

 

59 minutes ago, analoggirl said:

Currently I am aiming to stretch 1-2 different areas every day. I was going to work up to doing a whole or half of the program at ONCE every day, but apparently what I'm currently doing is even the recommended route... (Especially in the beginning) Alright... Now I'm really glad I asked haha

It's absolutely fine to take your time and work up to do more volume on one go! But it's more useful to spend a little more time in a single session than spreading it out over multiple days. It just takes some time for the body, and the brain, to warm up to be able to reach your max levels. But if you do light mobility it's basically the opposite, the more the better. As for splits, I'd stick to one lower body day and one upper body day if you want shorter sessions. Or front splits, middle splits/pancake, backbends. 

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Tl;dr

 

1. Put away your phone

2. Turn off Netflix

3. Squeeze your butt

4. Don't over do it

5. Breathe

 

And remember

 

Stabby pain == bad 

Pukey pain == good

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20 hours ago, analoggirl said:

I'll be happy to just be able to "V sit and reach" well past my feet at the end of this challenge

 

Do you mean the pancake stretch? This one?

A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Center Split for Gymnastics ...

 

There's some cool strength training tricks that could help with this, if it's your goal (at least, I've found them helpful). I like this one (start with a light weight though and work your way up). I also think these are extremely useful (for all active flexibility leg stuff, actually). To make them harder, you can sit with your back against a wall (this prevents you from leaning back and "cheating" with your core) or add ankle weights. Doing them in a straddle is also brutal. There are good partner stretches as well, but not sure who has someone else in the house with them and who's flying solo, so uncertain if they would be helpful.

 

ETA: My one piece of advice for all leg stretching is ACTIVE FEET ALWAYS ACTIVE FEET. Super point or super flex but super do SOMETHING. This keeps the engagement through your entire leg and helps prevent injury (plus it looks better).

 

Also, I recorded that splits stretches video last night, though it's kind of an exhausted hot mess of a thing. Do you guys want a babbly, crappy one, or should I try again and do better?

 

1 hour ago, Mad Hatter said:

I need to come up with a new backbend routine that works for my current body. I used to have some kind of system, roughly split up into more cobra focused backbending and more bridge focused backbending. But now I'm much less bendy and it doesn't work the same anymore. 😭If you want to I can share my experiments in putting something together. 

 

Yes, PLEASE. I should note that I currently have a limitation where I can't do bridges for the moment due to a persistent wrist injury which is healing verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slowwwwwwwllllllllllllly, so I might ask for modifications...

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2 minutes ago, starsapart said:

I like this one (start with a light weight though and work your way up). I also think these are extremely useful (for all active flexibility leg stuff, actually).

Both of these are great! Especially the latter if you love quad cramps. 😂

If you find that you can't sit up straight in the straddle without rounding your back feel free to sit up on a blanket or whatever until you can.

 

Also these ones. 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Especially the latter if you love quad cramps. 😂

 

Right? The quad cramps in the straddle ones are out of this world terribad, but the exercise is useful, so I keep forcing myself to do it. Maybe not as frequently as I should....

 

I've never seen those Jefferson curls, but I LOVE this idea! I imagine it's great for long arms that naturally reach well past the toes. I'm definitely going to experiment with that.

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52 minutes ago, starsapart said:

Maybe not as frequently as I should....

I’ve yet to hear about anyone that does them as often as they should 😄

 

53 minutes ago, starsapart said:

I've never seen those Jefferson curls, but I LOVE this idea! I imagine it's great for long arms that naturally reach well past the toes. I'm definitely going to experiment with that.

I think they’re neat, but I have a feeling they are less effective for people with an already very good pancake. At least I find myself having to stand up on something really tall and use heavier weights and even then I mostly feel a gentle back stretch.

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I went down the rabbit hole of youtube videos from all of the links so far, because I have nothing better to do.

 

I found this one which had some good cues for new flexible people like me. I'm working on squaring up my hips and this gave me some new insights into what to focus on with intention. 

 

 

 

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Just now, bigm141414 said:

I went down the rabbit hole of youtube videos from all of the links so far, because I have nothing better to do.

 

I found this one which had some good cues for new flexible people like me. I'm working on squaring up my hips and this gave me some new insights into what to focus on with intention. 

 

 

 

His channel is not bad. He's an Emmet Luis disciple so the content is a bit rehashed, but there are some follow along videos that are probably decent enough to start with. There's a fair amount of loaded stretches that people who are assassins by force rather than choice might particularly like. ;) Mostly pancake and middle split stuff, a bit of front splits, but don't go there for backbending.

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5 hours ago, starsapart said:

 

 I also think these are extremely useful (for all active flexibility leg stuff, actually).

 

 

 

Ugggggggh ugh. Thank you for the reminder of things I hate but that are super useful. Compression is my biggest weakness in aerial stuff and these are great for that.

 

4 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Both of these are great! Especially the latter if you love quad cramps. 😂

If you find that you can't sit up straight in the straddle without rounding your back feel free to sit up on a blanket or whatever until you can.

 

Also these ones. 

 

 

 

Oh interesting. My trainer has me doing a lot of deficit kettlebell RDLs right now so I could maybe add these in too but definitely should avoid doing these on deficit RDL days because my hamstrings are already pissed off anyway. :D I'll add this to "other weird things I can do dangling upside down over my stairs" 

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Love all the tips, will refer back to all of this once I have it in my head that I am now "someone who regularly stretches" :) 

 

It's so cool to get affirmation about this though:

 

6 hours ago, starsapart said:

ETA: My one piece of advice for all leg stretching is ACTIVE FEET ALWAYS ACTIVE FEET. Super point or super flex but super do SOMETHING. This keeps the engagement through your entire leg and helps prevent injury (plus it looks better).

 

6 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

If that's too wishy-washy, there's also the physical component. Even if you do a "passive stretch"** you should never*** just sit there and chill. Instead you're constantly checking in with your form, trying to push a tiny bit deeper while always engaging the muscles that need to be engaged so that you're still in control. It's hard physically. Not always in the grunty kind of way, but you should feel your muscles working hard. Both for safety and to be able to go deeper into a stretch. Which means that your muscles and ligaments and nervous system all need plenty of recovery time in between sessions. 

 

 NOBODY explained this properly to me (couple of people I asked) nor did the videos I consulted when I was looking for guidance in high school.

 

I always wondered why it hurt, and why I'd ALWAYS have "muscle aches" in a way that I couldn't continue with the stretches for days after and felt even stiffer than before. Even when I did much better warmups than I am currently doing. Recently I really found the right cues, and I feel the progress, and I feel much more like I am working with my body rather than trying to force something upon it.

 

These explanations make it even clearer to me. Thank youuu.

 

6 hours ago, starsapart said:

Do you mean the pancake stretch? This one?

Yes, I like that name better though :D . Very visual.

 

 

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I am totally here for this! 

 

17 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

 This has given me some new motivation to work on my weak spots, even though if I am honest I don't actually believe I am going to get much better than I currently am.  

I totally feel this sentiment! I feel like I've been stuck at my current level of flexiness for so long that I doubt sometimes if I can improve, but we got this! 

 

I'm learning how to be active in more "passive" stretches. For me, stretches have always been something I fall into once I'm warmed up and exhausted, so this is new and exciting (and painful!) I also apparently have a ton of nerve tension I need to work on. I heard it before from my physio many years ago, and apparently it's still an issue, I've just been ignoring it. 

 

 

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12 hours ago, starsapart said:

ETA: My one piece of advice for all leg stretching is ACTIVE FEET ALWAYS ACTIVE FEET. Super point or super flex but super do SOMETHING. This keeps the engagement through your entire leg and helps prevent injury (plus it looks better).

Not to confuse people but I don't think this is always such a great cue. For aerialists and gymnasts I'd absolutely agree, but less because of engagement but to ingrain the habit because of the aesthetic needs. For some people it's a great cue and works like a charm. But for other people, including myself, if I start focusing on toe point I will inevitably divert engagement from where it actually needs to be. For example my hips tend to open up in front splits because I need all the attention on my side butt, and my knee has a tendency to micro bend if I don't explicitly focus on my quads. Thinking about both is too much. :lol:

 

I also sometimes get cramps in my feet (my toe point is garbage), which is totally counter productive to any stretch. On the other hand, flexing the feet might inhibit flexibility, and even prevent improvement, by triggering nerve tension. I'd rather see people focusing on the part that needs the most focus, typically the point where the tendency to cheat kicks in and not be overly concerned about their feet in the beginning. My two cents. 

 

Having said that, if you do aerial, dance or gymnastics - point your fucking toes. ;) 

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