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Flexibility Training Support Group

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Hey kids, can I tap into the brain trust here? I was rear-ended a month ago, and have been diligently doing the exercises & stretches my physio sends me (thank you COVID for banning in-person treatment) and will continue to do so! 

 

But I'm wondering if anyone has run into this before: when I look UP, the back of my neck and upper back feel compressed and pinched, and almost like I have to thrust the base of my neck forward in order to make the move. I've been doing the appropriate traction & scalene stretchy things assigned, but does anyone have any ideas for other activities/tips/hints I could maybe incorporate? Thanks in advance!

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On 4/8/2020 at 10:01 PM, Elastigirl said:

Yes, I think strength training is  overall easier to  teach your body. 

Not sure, honestly I think it could also be that there's so few good resources and research done on flexibility compared to strength training. 

 

On 4/9/2020 at 6:14 PM, Manarelle said:

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. 

 

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

Ahh don't be too harsh on the bodies. They're a little silly but they're pretty efficient in their own way. As in, they will always choose the path of least resistance. :) And let's be real, backbends are like one of the least functional/natural/whatever you wanna call it movements. It's become a lot more popular in the fitness world since yoga became mainstream, but most yoga teachers don't really know anything about improving flexibility in an efficient and safe manner.* And let's be very clear, I don't either, I know bits and bobs but only on a very basic level. 

 

*No hate it's just not what yoga is about.

 

On 4/11/2020 at 7:36 PM, Defining said:

Hey kids, can I tap into the brain trust here? I was rear-ended a month ago, and have been diligently doing the exercises & stretches my physio sends me (thank you COVID for banning in-person treatment) and will continue to do so! 

 

But I'm wondering if anyone has run into this before: when I look UP, the back of my neck and upper back feel compressed and pinched, and almost like I have to thrust the base of my neck forward in order to make the move. I've been doing the appropriate traction & scalene stretchy things assigned, but does anyone have any ideas for other activities/tips/hints I could maybe incorporate? Thanks in advance!

Ugggh that sucks. Sorry to hear that. Honestly I think that first of all you should try and contact your physio even if it's only via email.

 

But this happens very often in backbends in some poses and one reason is that the muscles in the front of the neck are basically not strong enough to hold up the weight of the head. Typically caused by this forward thrusting computer neck. If you google deep flexor exercises you'll find stuff. I don't have a specific resource and can't vouch for the content overall, but you could try something like the supine neck retraction here https://myrehabconnection.com/deep-neck-flexor-exercises/. I do something like that post backbending and find them disturbingly weird and difficult. 

The other thing to keep in mind is that the base of the neck is kinda like the lumbar spine of the upper back. It happily takes over the bend instead of the upper back and easily gets jammed. You could try lying on the floor with a peanut or lacrosse ball placed directly under the area just below the neck and nodding yes or no and see if that helps how the area moves.

The last thing I can think of is to simply be conscious of how you look up. Instead of letting your chin just forward, try and actively lengthen the neck, keeping the shoulders down, and only look up as far as you can without compensating in order to retrain the motor pattern. 

 

But I really don't know, these are just random thoughts coming from a back bending, not physio, perspective, which might not be at all relevant. How did your disclaimer work now again - I'm just a random stranger on the internet? ;) But really I'm not even remotely close to give qualified advice about injuries so if anything resonates try it safely.

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Btw I tried to film the cobra video, but it turns out that after completely neglecting back bending for a veeery long time, I'm so stiff that I'm not even sure it's helpful. 🙈I'll try edit in some pointers to show what I'm thinking versus what I'm executing, but we'll see. 

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1 minute ago, Mad Hatter said:

Ugggh that sucks. Sorry to hear that. Honestly I think that first of all you should try and contact your physio even if it's only via email.

 

But this happens very often in backbends in some poses and one reason is that the muscles in the front of the neck are basically not strong enough to hold up the weight of the head. Typically caused by this forward thrusting computer neck. If you google deep flexor exercises you'll find stuff. I don't have a specific resource and can't vouch for the content overall, but you could try something like the supine neck retraction here https://myrehabconnection.com/deep-neck-flexor-exercises/. I do something like that post backbending and find them disturbingly weird and difficult. 

The other thing to keep in mind is that the base of the neck is kinda like the lumbar spine of the upper back. It happily takes over the bend instead of the upper back and easily gets jammed. You could try lying on the floor with a peanut or lacrosse ball placed directly under the area just below the neck and nodding yes or no and see if that helps how the area moves.

The last thing I can think of is to simply be conscious of how you look up. Instead of letting your chin just forward, try and actively lengthen the neck, keeping the shoulders down, and only look up as far as you can without compensating in order to retrain the motor pattern. 

 

But I really don't know, these are just random thoughts coming from a back bending, not physio, perspective, which might not be at all relevant. How did your disclaimer work now again - I'm just a random stranger on the internet? ;) But really I'm not even remotely close to give qualified advice about injuries so if anything resonates try it safely.

This is great, thank you! I am definitely in email contact with my physio, she's been sending me new stuff to do and helping me track progress, which has been great. And I HUGELY appreciate your feedback & ideas, but definitely won't hold you to any suggestions - this is, after all, an internet forum to share together, certainly not a replacement for medical supervision or advice.

 

But the deep neck flexor thing makes a LOT of sense to me, and I've actually done activation work for those in the past for a pre-existinng upper-back/neck pain thingy. It didn't occur to me that it was a strength thing, vs pinching nerve thing (which is just 'NO DUH', now that you've said it), but that follows lots of logic behind other symptoms I've had as my recovery progresses. I also have a history of a stiff thoracic area anyway, so it still makes sense that things are compensating differently. I will poke around with different positions and strengthening/activation stuff and see what sticks. Much appreciated!

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7 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Not sure, honestly I think it could also be that there's so few good resources and research done on flexibility compared to strength training. 

 

^ This. Formalized strength training and understanding of the fundamentals of muscle function really started in the 1950s. So the science has a 70ish year head start on most other sports, including the distance sports of running/cycling (which really started to take off in the 70s). It can take decades for training advice to go from anecdotal to evidence based. Plus, given the relatively low rates of people practicing flexible arts there doesn't seem to be a lot of investment just yet in physio studies. With more acrobatics/gymnastics activities becoming common place for adults (instead of just for kids) it's a matter of time before a whole bunch of money gets poured into it.

 

If we compare it to the strength science timeline: in the 1960s the Soviet weightlifting research was translated and disseminated to the western countries and things exploded from there. Flexibility and acro is approaching that point quite quickly in terms of highly detailed programming from very few experts that are finally getting a chance to be scrutinized by a larger crowd of interested people. 

 

Just my two cents. I nerd out about the history of scientific development.

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@Defining Yay I'm glad! Hope you have a speedy recovery, the neck is such an annoying place to injure.

 

3 minutes ago, bigm141414 said:

Plus, given the relatively low rates of people practicing flexible arts there doesn't seem to be a lot of investment just yet in physio studies. With more acrobatics/gymnastics activities becoming common place for adults (instead of just for kids) it's a matter of time before a whole bunch of money gets poured into it.

Honestly I highly doubt that will ever happen for hobby activities. They're not big money sports like football, studying how to do the splits really isn't all that useful for rehab purposes and there's no monetary incentive to sell flexy pills. I love that there's more and more physios and coaches teaching adults popping up with a specialised interested in circus/acrobatics/flexibility, but I really don't expect larger formal studies any time soon. But hey, just as people got hella strong before the science, people get freakishly flexible now too. And not just kids. Sure a lot of myths need to die, but as I said, there's more and more good, or at least not harmful, information out there and accessible to everyone.

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GMB just dropped a new mobility program, and they're currently offering it for a discount (through the end of the month).  I picked it up, but haven't tried it yet.  It sounds like it fixed a lot of the issues with Focused Flexibility, which is good, because I never really got very far with that one, because it didn't really seem to cover the things I was having issues with.  Or didn't explain the tests you were supposed to do well enough that I could sort out which items would most benefit me.  But this one is (supposedly, again I haven't tried it yet) a full body program that walks you through improving athletic mobility.  Which sounds good.  I'll post a review, if any one is interested, once I've had a chance to give it a go.

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2 hours ago, Elennare said:

GMB just dropped a new mobility program, and they're currently offering it for a discount (through the end of the month).  I picked it up, but haven't tried it yet.  It sounds like it fixed a lot of the issues with Focused Flexibility, which is good, because I never really got very far with that one, because it didn't really seem to cover the things I was having issues with.  Or didn't explain the tests you were supposed to do well enough that I could sort out which items would most benefit me.  But this one is (supposedly, again I haven't tried it yet) a full body program that walks you through improving athletic mobility.  Which sounds good.  I'll post a review, if any one is interested, once I've had a chance to give it a go.

Oh. please tell me how you like it. It's supposed to more of a plug and go program than FF. One of the things they said that interested me was that  they had movements to go along with the stretches, which does some to help my body "get" the movement better

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3 hours ago, Elennare said:

GMB just dropped a new mobility program

 

 

Annnnnd picked it up myself because 1) I Don't mind supporting GMB, I've got their rings and parallettes programs which are great (even though I don't use them often)  2) because I like their content and it usually leads me to other sources and lastly 3) because I like collecting understands when it comes to bodyweight resources :)

 

Also I just noticed this on their homepage:

 

image.png.38ceb4c3531f7cf0f144dcf41111747d.png

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Here to soak up the knowledge. I've always been flexible, and I seem to respond well to training, so I never really had to work too hard on it. This can become a problem, because when people want to learn about it they instinctively go to the flexible guy, and he doesn't necessarily have all the answers; he's been doing splits since he was 6.

 

On 4/9/2020 at 11:14 AM, Manarelle said:

 

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. 

 

Back bends/bridges are so easy to just learn inefficiently. (Or would it be efficiently?) It was even a problem with an L7 gymnast I used to train, because you can totally get away with it. Performed properly though they're pretty much the anti-slouch solution. Like 99% of the people I train could use more hip and thoracic extension. Throw in some dorsiflexion there and you've got yourself a minimalist flexibility routine. *writes notes

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5 hours ago, Machete said:

because when people want to learn about it they instinctively go to the flexible guy, and he doesn't necessarily have all the answers;

 

Yeah I usually don't go to people with natural talent for advice . :D(EXCEPT if it's things I can pick their brain for, like people that are good with compartementalising and I can make them sort of become mindful of the thoughts they have in stressed times so they can share them.)

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1 hour ago, analoggirl said:

Yeah I usually don't go to people with natural talent for advice .

But how do you tell? 🤔

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4 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

But how do you tell? 🤔

 

I ask them? E.g. if they've been stretchy since 6 they're either flexy people or might as well be because I cannot go back in time and maintain my kids-joints etc flexbility?

 

If it's something people pursue as a hobby or do professionaly and they don't know what they've done to get better, there's a great chance it's relatively more talent than effort

 

Effort and average talent always beats natural talent and little effort but talent is always  natural boost that requires much less thought in the beginner's phase and SOME less thought on intermediate and advanced level (ha, Idk how to write this without sounding like a meme.)

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10 minutes ago, analoggirl said:

I ask them?

Simple enough! :D It's just not an obvious thing to do for many people. But I agree, gifted people often make poor teachers, unless they've been injured a lot haha. Sometimes that group also makes for excellent teachers. Or if they're nerds.

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14 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Or if they're nerds.

 

My favorite type. 

 

Because they usually also compare to people who aren't gifted and are interested in the why behind the differences.

 

And... Sometimes you don't know you have a knack for something until someone's told you(*) might and you try it :D

 

(*)because they're curious and want MOAR DATA

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16 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

gifted people often make poor teachers

As a gifted person who works in education (never thought I'd be saying that lol), I have first hand experience that confirms this.

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On 4/15/2020 at 5:29 AM, Mad Hatter said:

But I agree, gifted people often make poor teachers, unless they've been injured a lot haha. 

I've always said that B students make the best teachers (not that I have ANY authority on the topic, I just like to express opinions ;) ). If you've never had to work hard to understand a concept or never had to approach a problem from multiple angles, that chances of you being able to teach different strategies to someone else is nil!

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Life did not go as expected, so it took me until almost the end of the challenge to actually try the new GMB mobility program. So here is my review after one session.

 

Overall it seems pretty cool. The videos are easy to follow, and the web interface they've got is really cool and makes it easy to use. As far as the program itself, the first session hit pretty much your whole body. It has you go through a warm up kind of thing, and then some exercises. I think later sessions will focus on individual body parts and add in some more ways to do the movement. It also seemed to include a lot of things that work on both flexibility and strength, which is great. I'm excited to see what happens after I've done the program, because after 1 session it seems like it could have potential to make improvements but I certainly can't tell yet (duh).

 

I hope that makes sense. Ask me if you have any specific questions and I'll do my best to answer.

 

Oh! One other cool feature is it asks you how long you have to do the workout, and I assume it adjusts the timers based on your answer.

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@Elennare said:
and I assume it adjusts the timers based on your answer

Really like this! Although I still have to google all the mentioned programs, :')

***

 

Yesterday I tried a back bridge stretch for the first time in ages -  I'd never gotten it entirely right and safe to begin with - and my wrists are still nagging at me for doing so without a warm-up 😅 After several tries I got my head up 1 cm off the fround haha

 

[EDIT: I spent some hours with a wrist stabilising/elastic support band and it helped. Will do that tomorrow as well.]

 

I feel a lot more comfortable sitting cross legged etc. (and daring to be more adventurous) than I did at the beginning of the challenge and I do think that's for a big part thanks to this sub :) Especially the tip to keep on using full range of motion when doing daily things helped a lot. Reading about all the technical stuff and everyone sharing what they struggle with, kept mobility at the forefront of my mind even when I did no stretches. It was quite fun, and interesting. Thanks!

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23 hours ago, analoggirl said:

Yesterday I tried a back bridge stretch for the first time in ages -  I'd never gotten it entirely right and safe to begin with - and my wrists are still nagging at me for doing so without a warm-up 😅 After several tries I got my head up 1 cm off the fround haha

 

[EDIT: I spent some hours with a wrist stabilising/elastic support band and it helped. Will do that tomorrow as well.]

 

I feel a lot more comfortable sitting cross legged etc. (and daring to be more adventurous) than I did at the beginning of the challenge and I do think that's for a big part thanks to this sub :) Especially the tip to keep on using full range of motion when doing daily things helped a lot. Reading about all the technical stuff and everyone sharing what they struggle with, kept mobility at the forefront of my mind even when I did no stretches. It was quite fun, and interesting. Thanks!

 

Nice! It's always encouraging to see progress. 

 

On 5/1/2020 at 10:22 PM, Elennare said:

Oh! One other cool feature is it asks you how long you have to do the workout, and I assume it adjusts the timers based on your answer.

 

Very cool - it adjusting to you makes it far more likely that you'll be back. I get rather discouraged when something just bulls ahead and you're left flailing about, trying to catchup. 

 

Many thanks for putting this together! I didn't post much, but I have made significant progress on the pancake stretch and toe points. I wasn't really thinking about the pancake stretch progress until I realized I was having trouble focusing on the carpet in front of me because it was getting closer (could be partially age-related farsightedness though :D ). I've doubled the length of time I can toe point before cramps threaten, too, so THANK YOU! 

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