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Flexibility Training Support Group

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15 hours 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.

Wait, what?  Why has no one ever told me this before???  Here I was thinking that if I wasn't going all out every day I was never going to make any progress...

 

13 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

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.

Again, why have I never seen advice like this before.  I detest straddles because I can't sit up without rounding my back.  I didn't realize sitting on something was an option

 

Definitely some great food for thought in this thread

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9 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

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:

 

See, this is fascinating to me! I didn't realize there were different schools of thought on this, because every flexibility teacher I have ever had has stressed the importance of active feet to ensure engagement through the entire line. I suppose since my background is in dance and then subsequently aerial, it makes sense that they would say this, although my most recent teacher isn't an aerialist herself but strictly a contortionist (flexibility/contortion is the one class she teaches at the circus gym). The more you live, the more you learn!

 

I personally find it a great cue as I tend to get lazy and just "flop" into my splits otherwise, and a flex helps prevent any pulling at the knee AND ensure my legs don't roll in when I do a pancake (I'm one of those weirdos who 100% prefers a flex to get a deeper pancake, though I know we're the minority). The focus on extending the line through the feet also helps with active flexibility in my case, although I will concur that toe cramps are THE WORST. My toe point is definitely not always great, considering I have two perma-fractured toes in my right foot, but for me personally, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

 

Obviously for others, YMMV, you I'll just say that for me, I feel active feet are an excellent, helpful cue, and I hope they will work for at least some others! If not, toss my advice and move on. 😂

 

15 hours ago, analoggirl said:

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

 

Totally! I just wanted to make sure we were talking about the same stretch before I went suggesting exercises.

 

 

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8 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

Wait, what?  Why has no one ever told me this before???  Here I was thinking that if I wasn't going all out every day I was never going to make any progress...

 

Riiight?! All these years. I guess I never asked, either, but still.

 

Quote

Again, why have I never seen advice like this before.  I detest straddles because I can't sit up without rounding my back.  I didn't realize sitting on something was an option

 

Definitely some great food for thought in this thread

 

The blanket options etc. are often mentioned in yoga classes/videos, but for some reason I never made the connection - that I could do that with "regular stretching routines" because why not, I'm my own boss :Duntil recently...

 

Quote

Mad Hatter said:
Having said that, if you do aerial, dance or gymnastics - point your fucking toes.   


:D

 

(Hmm, it won't let me interractive-quote things that are on a different page.)

 

43 minutes ago, starsapart said:

See, this is fascinating to me! I didn't realize there were different schools of thought on this,

 

I think it's time (for me) to just assume that as long as more than 1 person teaches something, there will be more than 1 school of thought :') All of this is very interesting indeed...

 

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On 4/1/2020 at 10:08 AM, starsapart said:

My toe point is definitely not always great, considering I have two perma-fractured toes in my right foot, but for me personally, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

 

D: That sounds... awful... I'm not super big on pointing toes, despite a decent amount of dance training, because of all things, foot cramps run in my family. Not the worst genetic predisposition, but definitely makes one hesitant to point toes. 

 

Finally had some spare time today, so I sketched out my typical stretching routine. First line is warm-ups (I know, I know), last two lines are cool-down. I'm no artist, so let me know if something isn't clear.

 

75eDJAQ.png

 

I did add the pigeon pose hip openers last night, and it definitely identified some areas for improvement (oh hello hamstrings that aren't gotten on jefferson curls). I'm also going to add the shoulder dislocates that @Etchi mentioned in a post, because I definitely don't do enough for my shoulders. 

 

Request for advice: I've made good progress in the last 2 years on stretches 2 and 3 of cool-down, but the pancake stretch is going nowhere - hasn't since I was in my teens. I feel that on the inside of my knees. I used to do back bridges, because cobra pose doesn't really do much for my abs, but then my lats started being painful after lying down out of it, so I switched to cobra, which still sometimes causes pain on my lower back (when getting into it) without giving much ab stretch. What am I doing wrong? 

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25 minutes ago, Manarelle said:

so I switched to cobra, which still sometimes causes pain on my lower back (when getting into it) without giving much ab stretch. What am I doing wrong? 

Don't go all the way into it. Start with your arms on the ground and slowly lift yourself up, if your lower back hurts, lower it a little and hang out at the lower position for a bit, then if it feels comfortable go a little further up. Also, some cues, focus on sticking your chest out and squeezing your butt. I don't think the cobra is an ab stretch I think it is more T-spine?

 

Note: I am not very flexible, and am cautious when I do my stretching (I seem to pull muscles easier stretching than lifting heavy) so my approach reflects that. 

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On 4/1/2020 at 5:08 PM, starsapart said:

Obviously for others, YMMV, you I'll just say that for me, I feel active feet are an excellent, helpful cue, and I hope they will work for at least some others! If not, toss my advice and move on. 😂

 

Absolutely! And I do think it works for many people. But it's worth understanding what you're trying to achieve besides just engaging the legs, as even then that can mean different things! In a pancake stretch for example it could be just the quads, or it can mean the whole leg and those will have subtly different effects. In this particular example the latter works much better for me than the former which I didn't know until recently. There really is endless learning! 🤓

 

1 hour ago, Manarelle said:

Request for advice: I've made good progress in the last 2 years on stretches 2 and 3 of cool-down, but the pancake stretch is going nowhere - hasn't since I was in my teens. I feel that on the inside of my knees.

Super common. Here's a few things to try

  • Make sure the knees/feet are pointing up to the ceiling and don't roll too far forward or backward.
  • Squeeze your quads, super important. 
  • Another cue is to push the heels into the floor, it feels a little different but for me personally it works great.
  • Roll out the inner thighs on a foam roller/lacrosse ball/peanut/torture device of choice just before the stretch.

Re: bridges and lat pain - I don't know. The lats are under a deep stretch in back bridges so maybe they somehow got overused. I'd try giving the lats some extra love before doing bridges, but if it really hurts it might be physio territory. 😕

 

Re: cobra and low back pain - super common if you push too aggressively into the low back. When you get into the cobra think about reaching your chest forward before going up and back. You also want think about tucking your pelvis as much as you can by squeezing the butt, particularly the lower part between the butt and the hamstrings. This will offload the pose from your low back to the hips and make for a nice c-shape instead of an L if you look from the side.

Don't know if it's relevant but another thing is to keep the feet about hip width apart. I hear that many yogis teach it with feet together so I thought I'd mention it.

 

Maybe someone can chime in about ab specific stretches. I honestly don't think it's needed, but it can feel nice. The only thing I can think of that I personally sometimes do is hanging on low rings in a kind of suspended cobra, or just dangling over a pilates ball or the edge of the sofa. Very fancy stuff. 😄

 

58 minutes ago, Elastigirl said:

I don't think the cobra is an ab stretch I think it is more T-spine?

Technically it stretches the entire front of the body, but I don't think the abs are ever a true limit factor, unless you've just done a killer ab session. 😄Cobra is all about hip extension and the upper back. But it's really the hips that get stretched, the entire backside of the body works overtime contracting the muscles. When it comes to the back only one side of the vertebrae get stretched. Backbending is really hip and shoulder stretching and back strengthening.

 

On 4/1/2020 at 9:07 AM, WhiteGhost said:

Wait, what?  Why has no one ever told me this before???  Here I was thinking that if I wasn't going all out every day I was never going to make any progress...

I'm pretty sure the intro MyFlex videos mention rest days. ;) But tbh with that kind of stretching I don't think you'd make much improvement with just once a week, or you'll plateau quickly. It's not a lot of total time in the extreme ranges if you follow the program to the T. 2-3 should be fine though! 

 

I think a lot of the myths about stretching, such as this one about training every day, comes from gymnastics and contortionists who actually do have to stretch every day, or say six times a week, and have done so from they were children. But that's an entirely different population.

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1 hour ago, Mad Hatter said:

Technically it stretches the entire front of the body, but I don't think the abs are ever a true limit factor, unless you've just done a killer ab session. 😄

2 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

 I don't think the cobra is an ab stretch I think it is more T-spine?

 

 

We often do this in dance warm up after doing killer ab stuff actually. It feels nice to like try and chill out any ab cramping in my experience. But yeah also is a nice baby back bend and stuff? I usually start from a bent arm and not raising up much until I'm warm (but usually this falls way late in dance warm ups so that's not an issue then anywho.)

 

 

Also, I am definitely in team pointy pointy or flexy flexy the feet in pancake! But yeah, dancer soooooo that would make sense. Making sure to always engage the legs as a whole is super important for dance (and aerial if i ever get back to that) to be pretttyyyyy.

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16 minutes ago, dancezwithkittehz said:

But yeah also is a nice baby back bend and stuff? I usually start from a bent arm and not raising up much until I'm warm (but usually this falls way late in dance warm ups so that's not an issue then anywho.)

It can actually be a suuuper intense backbend! Starting with the arms bent and focusing on the upper back is a great warm up, especially if you try to reduce the amount of arm support and just use your back muscles to move up and down.

 

19 minutes ago, dancezwithkittehz said:

Also, I am definitely in team pointy pointy or flexy flexy the feet in pancake! But yeah, dancer soooooo that would make sense. Making sure to always engage the legs as a whole is super important for dance (and aerial if i ever get back to that) to be pretttyyyyy.

It's not really a team thing, or a right or wrong thing! 😛It's more about what everyone needs and responds well to. IMO pointed feet for adults who have no plans on performing whatsoever are just not needed, it doesn't make the stretches safer or better. Sometimes it even works counter to what you're trying to do, like the front leg in splits. To have a good toe point you need to contract the calves, but for front splits you need to relax them. In my case it leads to what I like to call THE CLAW. 😂So I'd rather just focus on what I need to focus on. Also because multitasking is hard. It's also totally possible to have engaged legs and non pointed/flexed feet and vice versa!

Having said that, when it works well as a cue then that's even better!

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I have another question about cobra.  If I try to use my arms in it (by which I mean, move further into the back bend than I can get by using my back muscles to lift my head/chest off the floor) I feel really crunched up in the neck/shoulder join area.  I've only ever seen this addressed by teachers saying not to do that, but I don't know how to not do that, other than if I basically don't do it.  Any tips for how to keep your shoulders down?  I suppose it's possible I just have really bad flexibility in my upper back/shoulders and that's actually as far into the stretch as I can actually go, but in that case, I don't know how to improve it, because I'm not feeling a stretch I'm feeling a strength exercise for my back.

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19 minutes ago, Elennare said:

I'm not feeling a stretch I'm feeling a strength exercise for my back.

This is perfect, it's what backbending should feel like! And yes I do have tips, but I think that video might be more useful than word. I'll try to film something this weekend. :) Just don't expect great bendiness, cobras have always been a bit of a nemesis move for me.

 

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Btw, I wanted to mention that just because I find flexibility training super fascinating and enjoy nerding out about it - it doesn't mean that it's all that complicated! Especially in the beginning. Just like strength training it's all about building consistent habits and it doesn't matter too much exactly what you do as long as it's challenging enough, but not so much you hurt yourself. Everything else is a detail.

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30 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Btw, I wanted to mention that just because I find flexibility training super fascinating and enjoy nerding out about it - it doesn't mean that it's all that complicated! Especially in the beginning. Just like strength training it's all about building consistent habits and it doesn't matter too much exactly what you do as long as it's challenging enough, but not so much you hurt yourself. Everything else is a detail.

True, but I'm glad you are nerdy about it, I love reading about it, even if I forget most of it when I'm actually stretching.😉

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20 minutes ago, Elastigirl said:

True, but I'm glad you are nerdy about it, I love reading about it, even if I forget most of it when I'm actually stretching.😉

Good good! I just don't want people to get bogged down in the details or, even worse, get put off altogether.

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19 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Good good! I just don't want people to get bogged down in the details or, even worse, get put off altogether.

 

I expect it's a lot like any type of training... there's a lot to remember at first, and you'll make mistakes, then slowly start to put everything together. The admonition to not do it every day, and the obvious enthusiasm you and the other gurus here have for it, actually makes me more interested in pursuing it. 

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On 4/3/2020 at 1:44 PM, Mad Hatter said:

Good good! I just don't want people to get bogged down in the details or, even worse, get put off altogether.

My life is all about getting bogged down with the details lol

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Ahhh the stretching was especially nice today.

 

Although I keep turning my wrist in an unpleasant way when I try to do a "back scratch" with my right arm down... 

 

So my hand wants to get higher real bad but the angle isn't right yet. I need to have more patience or I will regret it. I need my right wrist :D

 

This is the stretch I mean, skip to 1m10sec. (Found different results in google/youtube so for reference.)

 

My fingertips only touch when my left arm is down.

 

 

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1 hour ago, analoggirl said:

Ahhh the stretching was especially nice today.

 

Although I keep turning my wrist in an unpleasant way when I try to do a "back scratch" with my right arm down... 

 

So my hand wants to get higher real bad but the angle isn't right yet. I need to have more patience or I will regret it. I need my right wrist :D

 

This is the stretch I mean, skip to 1m10sec. (Found different results in google/youtube so for reference.)

 

My fingertips only touch when my left arm is down.

 

 

This is a test I absoloutely suck at . I've spent challenges just focusing on stretches that help, and  my upper arm can't go lower than my shoulders, and I can't get my lower arm higher. I always feel like there must be some yoga bending magic I'm missing

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8 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

This is a test I absoloutely suck at . I've spent challenges just focusing on stretches that help, and  my upper arm can't go lower than my shoulders, and I can't get my lower arm higher. I always feel like there must be some yoga bending magic I'm missing

 

Which stretches have you tried?

 

This is the first time I have actually focused on it. 

 

(although I have always wanted to simply be able to reach where I am itching and wash my back without a brush... And for my shoulders to stop complaining when I am putting my coat on/off in the car and push them a little :D )

 

I feel like the stretches I have found are helping to loosen my shoulders up though I don't think there is any measurable progress (yet, done them 2 times so far) 

 

I am doing "standing mountain and Y stretches", reaching as far as I can with every cm/inch of movement. (Almost like a YMCA dance :D )

 

And "A, T, Y" stretches - laying on your belly and doing something like a supine stretch but for the upper body. You keep your arms down, then in a T form, then up in a Y form and bend at your shoulders each time holding each side for 30 seconds.

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20 hours ago, analoggirl said:

 

Which stretches have you tried?

 

This is the first time I have actually focused on it. 

 

(although I have always wanted to simply be able to reach where I am itching and wash my back without a brush... And for my shoulders to stop complaining when I am putting my coat on/off in the car and push them a little :D )

 

I feel like the stretches I have found are helping to loosen my shoulders up though I don't think there is any measurable progress (yet, done them 2 times so far) 

 

I am doing "standing mountain and Y stretches", reaching as far as I can with every cm/inch of movement. (Almost like a YMCA dance :D )

 

And "A, T, Y" stretches - laying on your belly and doing something like a supine stretch but for the upper body. You keep your arms down, then in a T form, then up in a Y form and bend at your shoulders each time holding each side for 30 seconds.

Mine were similar to your laying down ones. I use  GMB focused flexibilty

Posterior Shoulder Opener Posterior deltoids, long head triceps, rhomboids • Shoulders square, point of elbow directly in front of sternum.
• Dynamic action is pivoting off of elbow, attempting to pull arm into the ground.
Prone Scaption Rotation Chest, deltoids, biceps • Arm out at ~45 degrees, find the angle where you feel no anterior shoulder pinching.
• Dynamic action is rolling the front of shoulder into the ground.
Lounge Chair Anterior shoulder, chest, biceps • Sit in front of an elevated surface that you can comfortably place your hands behind you.
• Keep chest up and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
• Dynamic action is squeezing the shoulder blades together while
pushing down through your hands and breathing in deeply.
Shoulder Internal Rotation (in extension) Shoulder external rotators, anterior shoulder, chest • Hand behind your back and up as far as tolerated. Keep chest up and shoulder blade pulled down and in.
• Dynamic action is squeezing your shoulder blades together and lifting
elbow up and back.
Neck Combined Motions Neck, upper shoulder girdle • Be aware of the proper pivot points. Neck flexion is around the ears, neck sidebending is the around the nose. Rotate your head once you are in the proper positions.
• Dynamic action is either:
- Neck pressure into hand at end ranges.
- Hold head steady and bring arm up, to the side and back.
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I've been doing an hour long online mobility tutorial. It  stretches T-spine and hips. One of the stretches for the T-spine is the cobra. I have never been able to feel my T-spine move the way I think it is supposed to in that move today.I'm wondering what made it click in today finally. My thoughts: This is more intense than I've done before. I usually don't push myself this hard, but there are longer sets and more intense, not to the point of pain, but feeling like a workout for those small muscles and ligaments. 

What do you guys think? I'm just doing it twice a week. Could part of my frustration with my lack of flexibility be that I haven't pushed myself hard enough? Is there a sweet spot, pushing yourself but not causing injury?

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3 minutes ago, Elastigirl said:

What do you guys think? I'm just doing it twice a week. Could part of my frustration with my lack of flexibility be that I haven't pushed myself hard enough? Is there a sweet spot, pushing yourself but not causing injury?

Could be that you've slowly gained strength in relevant musculature and your nervous system is ok to relax a bit in that area? I dunno, I find that my flexibility and strength have a very parallel relationship when I observe progress, but that could just be me.

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3 minutes ago, Defining said:

Could be that you've slowly gained strength in relevant musculature and your nervous system is ok to relax a bit in that area? I dunno, I find that my flexibility and strength have a very parallel relationship when I observe progress, but that could just be me.

Yes, that could very well be. For me, it seems like strength has improved way more than flexibility, but that could be an age factor (I'm 54)

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On 4/4/2020 at 3:47 PM, Manarelle said:

I expect it's a lot like any type of training... there's a lot to remember at first, and you'll make mistakes, then slowly start to put everything together. The admonition to not do it every day, and the obvious enthusiasm you and the other gurus here have for it, actually makes me more interested in pursuing it. 

And it makes me more interested in getting off my butt and actually doing something instead of just talking about it. 😂

 

On 4/6/2020 at 10:47 PM, analoggirl said:

Ahhh the stretching was especially nice today.

 

Although I keep turning my wrist in an unpleasant way when I try to do a "back scratch" with my right arm down... 

 

So my hand wants to get higher real bad but the angle isn't right yet. I need to have more patience or I will regret it. I need my right wrist :D

 

This is the stretch I mean, skip to 1m10sec. (Found different results in google/youtube so for reference.)

 

My fingertips only touch when my left arm is down.

Hmm not sure what to say. Personally I think it's a garbage stretch. It encourages weird compensations and pulling on joints. Better to focus on the individual components (thoracic extension, shoulder internal and external rotation) and the back scratch will come as an expression of those.

 

16 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

What do you guys think? I'm just doing it twice a week. Could part of my frustration with my lack of flexibility be that I haven't pushed myself hard enough? Is there a sweet spot, pushing yourself but not causing injury?

100%. I feel like I'm going to be repeating this a lot haha, but flexibility training is A LOT like other training. :) Just as with strength training you need to feel a bit uncomfortable (or honestly a lot when it comes to flexibility) and apply progressive overload. If you only pick up weights that are easy and "feel good" all the time you won't get stronger. You need to push yourself by gradually increasing weight, or in this case RoM, and also by getting stronger in challenging ranges of motion through increasing reps or working on endurance or adding more difficult exercises. 

Having said that, cobra pose is a tricky one. It's very much a strength exercise, but the muscles have to work in a very particular way. It takes time to learn how to relax certain parts while at the same time contract other parts when back bending. In strength training we're used to contract everything so it's something that we have to learn and it takes time to learn that body awareness. For back bending I think it's a never ending process. :) 

 

Btw sorry about the lack of video! I haven't forgotten, I just suffered a bit from an uhm emotional malfunction which left me incapacitated for a few days. But it's coming!

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10 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

00%. I feel like I'm going to be repeating this a lot haha, but flexibility training is A LOT like other training. :) Just as with strength training you need to feel a bit uncomfortable (or honestly a lot when it comes to flexibility) and apply progressive overload. If you only pick up weights that are easy and "feel good" all the time you won't get stronger. You need to push yourself by gradually increasing weight, or in this case RoM, and also by getting stronger in challenging ranges of motion through increasing reps or working on endurance or adding more difficult exercises. 

Having said that, cobra pose is a tricky one. It's very much a strength exercise, but the muscles have to work in a very particular way. It takes time to learn how to relax certain parts while at the same time contract other parts when back bending. In strength training we're used to contract everything so it's something that we have to learn and it takes time to learn that body awareness. For back bending I think it's a never ending process. :) 

 

Thanks ,this is super helpful. Yes, I think strength training is  overall easier to  teach your body. I think  part of why I am seeing some progress in flexibility is that body awareness. Today I just had two short stretches after my workout, but I did work on pushing it a bit

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20 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Having said that, cobra pose is a tricky one. It's very much a strength exercise, but the muscles have to work in a very particular way. It takes time to learn how to relax certain parts while at the same time contract other parts when back bending. In strength training we're used to contract everything so it's something that we have to learn and it takes time to learn that body awareness. For back bending I think it's a never ending process. :) 

 

I've been doing "back bends" and front bends every hour of my work life for the last.... jeez... 10 years? The cobra work and finding new erector muscles made me realize (shocker) I was doing back bends wrong, too - 100% on the lumbar spine. /facepalm. So working on that, cobra, and pancake stretch now. Grumble grumble stupid inefficient bodies. 

 

20 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Btw sorry about the lack of video! I haven't forgotten, I just suffered a bit from an uhm emotional malfunction which left me incapacitated for a few days. But it's coming!

 

No worries, your words are still plenty helpful. Hope things are looking up for you!

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