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  1. Yesterday
  2. I have done the leg length test and I don’t really see much difference in the leg length. I have a feeling it’s probably hip flexors and hamstring issues. I can touch my toes but hardly any hip mobility. I can’t sit on the floor with straight legs and a flat back. I also have no range of motion when trying to forward fold while sitting. I grew up in agriculture and was sitting in a tractor for 12-16hrs a day. I did this for many years. My lower body was basically in constant tension bracing myself because of rough terrain. I’m not sure if this history helps.
  3. Last week
  4. @Nathanc: Have you done the leg-length test yet? Please do that before we make any recommendations. R–L differences in flexibility are a clue, for sure. I sent you the link to this test by email, but here it is again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt7zwss7kPo& Please watch it through first, and better yet if you have a friend who can assess you as you do it. If you've seen multiple specialists and no cause has been found, then likely you are suffering one of the "hidden causes" I write about in this free e-book: https://pdf-versions-of-books.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/2020-HCOBP-v6.pdf These hidden causes are all muscular, too.
  5. I began stretching using Kits stretching and flexibility book and have been focusing on hip flexors and hamstrings. Recently I started getting back pain after forward flexion. It’s not until I stand up that I get the pain. The muscles seemed really tight after standing up and is difficult to straighten my back. I can then lateral flex to the right and the tightness and pain goes away. Sometime I can do a more intense left hip flexor stretch and that helps to but not always. Before I started the stretching I didn’t have the pain after forward flexion. I’m not sure if I’ve created some imbalance or missing a stretch for another muscle? I’ve had low back pain for seven almost 8 years and have seen multiple specialist and no root cause. The doctors never suggest a muscle problem but now that I’m listening to my body more I think it’s muscle and flexibility related. I began Pilates 3 years ago to help with core strength and improved flexibility. I started the flexibility training to help improve my mobility and to be more active without the fear of back pain. I haven’t done the leg length test yet but I know my flexibility from left to right is different. I’m wondering way am I gettting the forward flexion pain now but not previously before starting the flexibility training?
  6. Yes: do it the way that feels the best to you. All exercise positions are only templates—playing with what you find there is the essence of this system, and that's what you are doing. Keep going.
  7. Thank you for the quick response! I think I do fine in terms of keeping the little toe side on the ground. I think my problem is with the heel. I feel a stronger stretch when it's off the ground. And when I try to push it down into the ground like in the photo, the stretch becomes much weaker. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks!
  8. Earlier
  9. @Driss: re. the cobra: both ways are perfectly fine, and think I mention this later in the book (search for 'suspended cobra'). And talking about the second one, ask a friend to press on the knee pressing in the direction as shown; if you are flexible, you'll need more weight in this one to feel it. But, make sure that your foot is aligned correctly, and your arch is not collapsed (very common adaptation!). The best way is to check and slightly exaggerate the arch alignment by putting a bit more weight on the little toe side of the foot before moving the knee over the toes. Letting the arch collapse will largely defeat the stretch. Do let us know how you go.
  10. My first question is about the cobra posture in the daily recommended stretches: Is it okay if I'm doing this posture with my legs positioned like in a push up? (Like in the next picture) I am asking because I feel a better stretch in the ab area this way. My second question is about this stretch: I don't feel the stretch that much when I position the foot like in the photos. I feel it more when my foot is further forward. Am I just doing the stretch wrong? Thanks
  11. @Kit_L Thank you so much! This is really above and beyond, and a useful reminder to slow down and smell the roses. Having a plan, even if a long term one, is very useful for me. I'll keep working the hardest version of a given pose I can do with reasonable form, be it from Part 2 or 3, but add the contractions you've outlined to the standing legs apart, and the hip movements Olivia outlines in that video to the seated versions. I'll keep testing harder versions, think about the Mastery course opnce I'm using the Part 3 versions for most things. I am indeed doing the relaxation practises, but hadn't realised there were more recordings, I'll work through those too for sure. Thanks again
  12. They will, but will take time, too. You have only worked through part III once, as you write above. You will need to work though whatever seems effective from part II, as well, many times before these patterns are embodied. It took me five years of practise before I could do the tailor pose, for example. The methods you are being exposed to now, though, are much more efficient that what I did, and struggling with all these poses is what created the method you are now using. Saying this, though, is not meant to put you off. You are a lot further down the road that you think, most likely. And definitely have a look on this page (I was trying to find a video that shows a legs-apart version of the Elephant Walk, to which adding contractions that will directly get in to your tightest lines, but recall now that's part of the Mastery Course): https://www.youtube.com/@KitLaughlin/search?query=standing legs apart But I'll describe it here for you. If you review all the instructions for the elephant walk, from our YouTube channel, but instead stand with your legs at least two shoulder widths or more apart and make sure your knees are bent sufficiently, then you will be able to move your spine and trunk between your legs and over each leg and stretch all of the muscles that are stopping you from doing that position on the ground. Then, just as in the elephant walk, you can hold each ankle in turn while keeping the knees bent and the back of straight as you can and very gently try to pull your body away from that leg using the muscles that are limiting you. In this way, gravity works for you instead of against you and it will be much easier to keep your back straight. When you can do the easier one properly, but keep trying the harder version. Again, all these things take time, and please think of progress in terms of months and even years, rather than a number of weeks. Are you doing the daily relaxation practises? These are an essential part of the system too. We have found that it's essential to master the squat components of the Mastery Course before going on to the other parts, simply because its many smaller poses target exactly what limits people from doing the far more difficult pike and pancake elements. There is some overlap between SC part III and the Mastery Course (how could there not be?). And in the meantime, try running through this follow-along class with Olivia, making sure you have a thick bolster to sit on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co252bder2Y And having done that, re-read what I wrote about the wide-leg version of the elephant walk: this is the same basic pattern of Olivia's sitting exercise, but inverted forward 90° so that the weight of your body is actively helping you. Try that first. Finally, do please keep going, and do the relaxation practises. There are many more recordings on our site, too (see the relaxation wiki).
  13. So, having worked through Part II twice and Part III once, I have three of questions on how to proceed. First, the seated legs apart poses are far and away my tightest, specifically through the glutes when trying to fold shoulder-to-thigh with a straight back, and along the sacrum as I go into spinal flexion between the thighs. I dread the ‘anti-tuck’, which is also preventing me sitting up straight in the seated piriformis stretch or in the tailor pose. It's so much tighter than everything else that I’m keen to make this my focus. But while there are seperate stretches with contractions for most of the muscles involved (upper hamstrings, piriformis, adductors), there’s seemingly only warm-up/limbering movements that get at these lines, and while those feel great, I'm not sure doing them alone, with no contractions, will lead to progress? More fundamentally, when should one progress from an easier to a harder variation of the same stretch? I’m finding there are points where doing the harder version imperfectly seems to work the target muscle more powerfully, but at the cost of the form cues, such as how straight my back is or the position of my other leg. Is it better to move on and work on improving my form in the harder pose, or to stick with the easier pose until the other muscles involved are sufficiently limber to allow good form in the harder position (i.e. hip flexors catching up before moving on from the seated to advanced piriformis stretch)? Relatedly, how much overlap is there between the first, squat, component of the Mastery course and Part III of the Starter course? When will I know when I’d benefit from moving on? Finally, the Tailor pose is doing wonders for me externally rotating the hip, but abducting the hip via the squashed frog (related to the first paragraph) is very tight for me, and not really progressing. In the video Olivia mentions that there are many more nuances to frog pose though, might you be able to point me toward somewhere these nuances are discussed?
  14. Have a look at this video; the instructions are for the advanced piriformis stretch, but held in a long form. The bolster, or something similar, is essential, to tip the body in the right direction. Olivia is demonstrating the long-held version, but you don't need to do all of that—simply get into the setup position for the exercise, and try it. Once you get into the position and have got as comfortable as you can, the contractions are two: press the front leg's knee onto the support, and press the outside of the ankle into the floor; re-stretch.
  15. Kit, by "advanced piriformis pose", are you refering to the bent leg version of the last of the basic five?
  16. @Driss: with respect, you're missing the point. In this system, unless there are specific reasons to target individual muscles (they will always be named) we impose a demand, or a function, on to the body, knowing that whatever needs to lengthen will lengthen. Same with strengthening: we have a rotation strengthening exercise that imposes exactly the same function on the whole body, but from a resistance perspective. The results are the same: what needs to get stronger will. For you, it might be mainly your arms, for the guy next to you in the gym it might be lats and obliques. No one can say what the effects will be, but the next day, you'll feel which muscles had to work harder. It's the same with the rotation stretch: literally no one can say which muscles (of the hundreds it could be) will be limiting you, and you don't need to know. If you go far enough, your body will tell you the next day.
  17. It sounds like I should find out my tight muscles and target them with this stretch. Since you've got so many years in the field, and you know your stuff, what muscles do you believe the average person should stretch with this pose? Thanks
  18. There used to be a topic for dramatic or unusual poses, but I cant find it, so am starting a new one. I hope I've got the identification right, as I've never seen it like this before.
  19. "... because the aging population changes its use profile so predictably (most people, anyway). We simply do not know which is the cause and which is the effect. The jury's still out on that one, I'd say." I agree entirely. Yes, people are reluctant to do what they find difficult, and things become difficult with underuse. I dont know any studies that address this issue, though maybe there is some indirect (and hence less reliable) information out there. A "proper" study would involve assigning people randomly to two groups, making them do different sorts of exercise as they got older, and then assessing after a decade otr two. Pie in the sky if that was going to happen. As for the other issue, as neural input is so important at keeping the fast twitch fibres activated properly, clearly it needs realistic exercise, which means, as you say, doing it early to get maximum effectiveness. However I like your suggestion of doing different types on different days, and I'll take that up. The fast stuff at home (when I can do it at any time I want), the slow stuff at the gym, at a time chosen so that the chatterers arent sitting on the machines for ages.
  20. @Jim Pickles: I see I wasn't clear. The question should be, "does the body reduce its type 2 fibre percentage if not used?". No research that I am aware of can sort out the correlation vs. cause picture here, IMO, because the aging population changes its use profile so predictably (most people, anyway). We simply do not know which is the cause and which is the effect. The jury's still out on that one, I'd say. Yes, definitely—but plyometrics yield the greatest overload, if time is factored in. The overloading is really intense, but if done well, very fast. This requires maximum neural energy, and hence my recommendation of doing fast things first. But there's many other solutions to the apparent contradiction; have one (say) lower body workout where fast stuff is done first, and other things later, and another workout where heavy things are done first. Different goals > different strategies.
  21. I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread, thanks both. Oddly I stumbled across just as I have been experimenting with similar since January, funny how that happens. I have been experimenting with both yielding isometrics and overcoming isometrics, using exercises and routines from the venerable Steve Maxwell. These use the concept of Time Under Tension as Kit mentions. Yielding isometrics uses fixed positions until absolute muscular failure (such as top position of a pull up, bottom position of a push up) whilst overcoming isometrics uses force against an immovable object, in Steve’s routine a ‘forklift moving strap’ (such as horizontal row, glute bridge) and these are done for time. Typically 90s total with increasing effort per 30s (30s at 50% effort, 30s at 75% effort, 30s all out effort). The routines from Steve Maxwell are great, incorporating push/pull/hinge/squat. They are exhausting and demanding and really get the heart rate going. There is some technique to learn around breathing, avoid holding your breath, aim for controlled breathing. It takes time to develop a sense of 75% effort versus all out 100%, those numbers are obviously guides but it does take practice to appreciate what all out effort feels like. The exercises are supposedly safer with less risk of injury - there is far less movement of the joints. Really recommend giving this a try. I will try to add a recent logbook tomorrow so you can see what a workout looks like
  22. @Kit_L Kit - the loss of type II fibres in ageing has been mentioned in many places - I found this early on in a quick look through my saved papers - its mentioned on the 6th line of the section headed Epidemiology and Pathophysiology. As for training, I am aware that the get maximum speed from a muscle, one should test at the beginning of a session, rather than at an end, because the fast fibres tire faster. However, to strengthen a muscle, isnt it true that one should overload it? My logic is that asking it to do something (that only it can do) once it has been exhausted is a way of encouraging it to do more. This may deal with the muscle fibres themselves; the neural innervation pattern is another matter, as that is probably developed best when undertaking its optimal pattern of activity. Happy to be guided on this. I need to so some reading on this, since I just made it up*. But I want to be sure that I include lots of resistance training, as that has been shown to be effective. *Disclaimer. Cho et al 2022 sarcopenia review.pdf
  23. @Jim Pickles: I am not sure that the percentage of fast to slow twitch fibres changes after middle age (but please correct me if you are sure about this). My feeling is that the capacity to access FTF decreases as we pass middle age and I am arguing that, 1) this is not necessary, and 2) happens because we simply don't use them. And everything I know about FTF tells me that these should be used first in a workout that features them, not at the end. So, Olympic lifters will do the fastest movements (snatch, clean) early in the workout, and then the work, less speed dependent, sets (like squats) after this. As the video points to, accessing plyometric capacity requires maximum neural effort. Slow twitch fibres can be worked by applying will power, even when fatiguing. IOW, I think that tiring STF in the hope of recruiting the FTF is just that, a hope! Do let us discuss.
  24. What Kit said. Also, as we get older, one of the first muscle changes is reduction in fast twitch muscle fibres. That is one reason why jumping etc gets worse as we age. This needs to be countered by fast twitch exercises - as Kit mentioned, jumping UP onto something is excellent, because there is less of a problem with the landing. As part of my routine, after a maximal muscle workout with lots of slow eccentric contractions (which I hope has clobbered the slow twitch fibres, and led to recruitment of fast twitch fibres), I then stress the fast twitch fibres further with jumping up, which I hope gives them the signal to get stronger, or at least, stop getting weaker. I dont know if this is the best way though.
  25. Too many to mention: literally all the muscles of the trunk can be targeted by how you position and use the arms and legs, and which end of the body you fix and which you move. As well, there are roughly 32 separate layers of fascia in the whole trunk, so all the fascial slings that hold the internal organs in place are worked, too. There is no single muscle that is targeted, and that is why it is not named. The effects of this incredible exercise can be changes by repositioning the spine (here I mean are we adding a small flexion or extension to the lumbar of thoracic spine as we set up?). Play with this. There are some novel movements here that will help you understand how to play with this: https://www.youtube.com/@KitLaughlin/search?query=rotation
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