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  1. 13 likes
    A question from a workshop attendee, asking whether we are planning to cover "tissue release" on an upcoming workshop prompted this brief post. When we stretch (defined in the ST system as moving a limb or whole body into a new range of movement, or ROM), we need to consider momentary changes (changes that happen as we stretch), as well as changes over time (months to years). Most people think of muscles and tendons when they think of 'what gets stretched', but in reality, all aspects of the body play a role in what limits ROM, and hence what gets 'stretched' as new ROM is explored—and this includes the mind. When I use the word "mind", I am not referring to the brain, that mostly cholesterol grey matter a neurosurgeon might work on, but rather our image of ourself, who and what we think we are, what we think others think of us, our emotional responses, and most of all, our reflexive behaviours. From a physical "tissue" perspective, we might separate restrictions into muscular, fascial, and neural—but the closer we look at the relations between these substances and the mind that controls them, we see these distinctions are not clearly defined in reality. In fact, they do not exist at all—they are the artefacts of asking particular questions. Looking closely, we see the mind is everywhere in the body (the neural system), but this is not a simple 'top-down' model I propose. The body is everywhere in the mind, too—all our thinking is done with physical metaphors* as root level, and layers of abstraction are built using these basic physical building blocks. When one dives deeply into a stretch, the emotional response is fear; the body is hard-wired to protect itself, as are all its cells. An amoeba on a Petri dish exhibits the same behaviour: it will recoil from a probe's touch. All injuries, past or present, will have involved "splinting": the phenomenon of muscles surrounding an injury contracting to 'splint' the area. And, speaking more systemically here, no human responds to stress or threat by opening, lengthening, and relaxing. Protecting ourselves is hard-wired, and is useful—but must be changed in order to acquire greater ROM. Now considering limits to increasing ROM temporally, the fastest responses are found in the neuromuscular systems: mind–muscles–fascia–neural structures. If we engage one of the reflexes we use as our way into improving ROM (Reciprocal Inhibition Reflex, RIR, Post-Contraction Inhibition Reflex, PCIR, or Apprehension Reflex, AR), then the momentary adaptation that yields increased ROM is the brain, and one specific part of it, the somato-sensory cortex, where the information from all the proprioceptors and mechanoreceptors is 'processed', or experienced (but not consciously). Literally, if the use of these tools (RIR, PCIR, and AR) is successful, then the map of what the mind believes/feels it can do has been changed. This happens in seconds to minutes. If we move into new ROM via manipulating the neurophysiological systems, at some point further repetitions of the reflexes produce no further increase in ROM—at that point we are 'hanging' off the fascial system (superficial and deep fascial systems, themselves richly innervated with all four nerve types (Pacini, Golgi, Ruffini, and undifferentiated, plus type-C nociceptive structures). In this moment, we have reached the limit of the fascial system—and to influence its length-tension relationship, we need to back off the intensity of the stretch a little, and simply hang out there. Ideally, for big stretches (think front and side splits), we need to spend a few minutes, perhaps as many as ten, from time to time. And if we add ankle and wrist flexion or extension (and internal and external rotation; six combinations in all) to stretches that involve arms and legs, the neural structures themselves are physically lengthened more than other tissues (as the nerves end in the toes and fingers, and must lengthen for mechanical reasons as these additional movements are incorporated). This needs to be done carefully, with full awareness of sensations held clearly, because potentially these are the most dangerous of the stretches. As when working on fascia preferentially, these additional excursions of the outer limbs need to be done in a completely relaxed state, and need to be done particularly slowly, so the stretcher can accurately monitor what's happening. Neural stretches tend to come on remarkably rapidly, and sometimes with only a millimetre or two of movement in end ROM of the wrist or ankle. And when all of the physical means of adaptation have been taken to their present limits, we are facing/experiencing the restrictions of our minds—for most, this is the physical experience of aversion ('I don't like that'; 'I want to get away from that'). Once again, this experience needs careful, gentle handling: you cannot, ever, force yourself to become more flexible. One must wait, take in a deep breath, relax the abdominal area completely, and allow one's whole body to relax, deeply. For most people, this is the hardest part, if not impossible in the beginning, but it is also the most important: we are literally remaking aspects of our false image of ourselves (the ideas we have of ourselves). If successful, one simply creates new options for responses in the next stressful situation you find yourself in. The last few paragraphs have been describing changes that only happen in the unfolding present, in the activity we call "stretching". A session might be a few minutes, and a long one a few hours. When we consider these changes accumulating over time, we see the typically inflexible person becoming softer, more open, more flexible from a ROM perspective, showing less purely reflexive behaviours, and a greater capacity to maintain equilibrium while others cannot. So, the simple answer to a question of great depth is "If stretching sensitively, whatever needs to lengthen to acquire greater ranges of movement will lengthen—and whatever restrictions that you have created in yourself will change, over time". *Further reading: "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things", George Lakoff, and "The Body in the Mind", Mark Johnson. These guys put "conceptual schema" on the map.
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    Quick background story: I injured (pulled) my right groin during partner stretch at the end of taekwondo class when i was 13years old. I was unable to land any weight on my right leg for few days and it really never healed well enough after that. I quited taekwondo for studies 15years old. On early twenties i went back to taekwondo, i had became very stiff while doing nothing meanwhile my studies (studied music as a pianist and sat all the time). At the begining i really didnt even remember my injured groin when i only focused how much i enjoyed just doing taekwondo even tho my leg didnt raise any higher than waist level. I then slowly started to stretch and regain some of the flexibility that i had in my childhood. And let that be my background shortly. I just wanted to make a point on my injury. After doinh taekwondo sometime. I had gained enough flexibility to hurt my groin again. I let it heal. Didnt take long until i injured it once again. I went this cycle of injury to heal to injury few times, until it started to make me mad and i started serious research. From pavel tsatsouline to jujimufu and anatomy study i assimilated this one simple consept: "weaker muscle tense more". Thats when i started serious training to rehab my groin and make my muscles stronger. I started from as simple as tom kurz's deep horse stance squats. After that i added kattlebells to my training. And started to do this: Firts without weight i did as many leg openings as i could bear. Usually over 100 (legs opened around 115degrees). After gaining some strength i added 4kg bells each foot. Then i did for example 60->rest->40. As i gained more strength i added more weigth. On that photo i have 10kg kettles each leg and i did 25+25+25+25 or 30+30+40 depending on day how my legs felt. I avoided strength training when my legs were still sore. I want to make a point that keeping knees locked is important with these weigths. Also i always tried to be in 100% control when i was doing this and didnt let my legs fall go to total maximum so that stretch reflex would kick in. This was dynamic rather slow than rapid and fast movement. No static active holds on max ROM. Now i had developed fairly strong adductor muscles as i reached 16kg kettles each legs. I moved to next step. Which is: I didnt start this low but my starting point was fairly low becouse of kettlebell strengthening workouts i did before. After 2 months the result: And my groin had never felt better Stuff i read: Jujimufu (legendary flexibility) Pavel tsatsouline Tom kurz Kit laughlin had nice writings and videos that helped. And this one: http://www.martialartsplanet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96381 If anyone else have injury. Strength training might be the answer. -Harri
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    From a recent email from Ashwin, one of our teachers in London: Hello K&O, As promised, I have been watching the Mastery Series with a critical eye to taking notes of tips and tricks. I've typed them all up in the attached word document. There is almost no editorial from me. 99% of the time it's "straight from the horse's mouth". I've made a couple of notes in yellow for things that need to be changed/added to. Each section starts with general tips and then tips that are specific to stretches. So what do we do now? I did this as a learning exercise for myself but am happy to work with you to clean to document up so you can send it to students as "Tips from the Mastery Series" or something like that. I am totally agnostic as to the format/layout. It's your work, I'm just the scribe :). So here it is, with a bit of expansion from Kit: Master the Squat and Hip Mobility In the beginning you are going to think of stretching as being some mechanical process that you simply have to repeat a number of times in order to get a specific effect. That is not actually how the body works. You have to create an environment internally where your body feels it’s safe to let go of the tension which, fundamentally, is protective tension. The body sees a new range of motion as a threat. You have to create an environment where relaxing in an otherwise threatening environment is a comfortable thing. In order to make your body more symmetrical, always stretch the tighter side first, then the looser side and then the tighter side again. Micro-movements at the end of the range of motion work on the fascia and help us to get accustomed to the position. To come out of a stretch try to use a different set of muscles than the ones you were stretching. Remapping of a new range of movement happens when you come out of a pose, so come out slowly. The key to the full squat position is ankle flexibility. In order for your bottom to get down to your heels in a full squat, the muscles of the calves and hamstrings have to get out of the way. They have to be soft enough for the angle between the femur and tibia to close. For small muscles spend at least 30 seconds in the final position. For larger muscles spend at least two minutes in the final position. Stretching the hip flexors has the most profound effect on the shape of the spine (looking from the side). Stretching hip flexors and quads has more effect on whole body tension than stretching any other muscle group. Try to spend some time every day in your best squat position. Remember the full squat is a position of ease and rest for most of the undeveloped world! Straight-legged calf stretches work more on the Achilles and gastrocs, whereas bent leg stretches work the soleus more. The Single Leg Dog Pose works the whole of the posterior fascial line including the sciatic nerve. ‘Rollsquat’ (using a stick in between the thigh and calf using the RollStretch approach) is an excellent treatment for Achilles tendonitis. The Standing Piriformis stretch is completely different to other Piriformis stretches because the thigh is in line with the spine. Boxing the Compass is one of the best hip loosening sequences available. The Relaxed Lunge is the best solo hip flexor stretch. The Cossack Squat is one of the most important exercises to master for the pancake and general mobility. When done with a kettlebell, it is one of the finest strengthening and mobilizing exercises on the planet. The kettlebell allows you to balance more easily and forces glute activation. The Squashed Frog is the one of the keys to mastering side splits. The Standing Knee Lift is an active hip mobility and strengthening exercise. It improves balance and proprioception. The Diamond Pose is a double piriformis and active flexibility exercise. It helps with the pike and pancake stretches. Master the Pancake If your clothing is tight on the skin it will act on the superficial fascia and create resistance to further stretching. The foundational movement pattern of the pancake is movement of the pelvis in between the femurs. The ST system uses three neural reflexes to achieve its goals. Reciprocal inhibition reflex describes what happens when one of a pair of muscles contracts: the brain inhibits (removes neural energy from) the muscle being lengthened. The more you can activate a muscle, the stronger this effect becomes. Pulling yourself to your thighs using your hip flexors in the pike is a perfect example. Using your quads to extend the lower leg (and hence stretching your hamstrings) is another. What happens when we do work with, or contract, a muscle isometrically at the very end of its range of movement (ROM) is described as the ‘Post-contraction inhibition reflex’: magically, the muscle resisting the movement relaxes a little, and we find we can move further into the ROM. The larger the muscle, the more extra contractions allow further lengthening. The third neural reflex is called the ‘Apprehension reflex’. It is the body’s hard-wired self-protection mechanism. We do everything we can to reduce its effects, and is the main reason we need to be as comfortable as possible when we stretch. Another way we use this effect is to have the trunk touching the thigh in forward bends, and straighten the lower legs, rather than bending forwards with straight legs, the standard approach. The pelvis and spine should roll forward as a single unit when thinking about any of the forwards bends (pike and pancake). Lengthening the spine helps roll the pelvis over, by contracting the muscles that extend the spine. Skandasana is a strengthening and activation pose. It is the martial arts version of the Cossack squat. There is no better active flexibility for the groin, gracilis, and the inner hamstring. And like the Cossack, Skandasana works even better when weighted. The Tailor pose is a foundational pose found in every form of yoga, dance, and martial arts. The Chinese Hip Grinder warms up the hips quickly. The Half Pancake is good for developing side splits The Bench Weighted Straddle is a strengthening and glute-hamstring activation pose. Bent legs target the underbutt and straight legs target the adductors and inner hamstrings. Lying Leg Circles and Lying Pendulum are active hip mobility exercises. When you do fascial release wait for the stretchee’s body to accept the release. Forcing it will make the stretchee’s body tense up and resist release. This is related to the Apprehension reflex. Master the Pike The underbutt is very resistant to being stretched. Straight legged hamstring exercises do not stretch the underbutt; bent leg hamstring stretches do. Sometimes while you are doing a slow stretch, you are not aware of a big sensation. This does not mean you should go into a more intense version. Come out of the stretch and see how the body processes it over the next couple of days. If there is no negative effect, then you know that you can go into a more intense version next time. The outer hamstring is the tightest hamstring line for most people. The body will always move to avoid the stretch. It’s important to maintain proper form to feel the intensity. Ballistic (quicker) flexibility eventually translates into passive (slower) flexibility. The experience of your face on your legs in a pike remakes the proprioceptive map. If any part of your body (i.e. knee cap) has a niggle during a stretch, it will not allow your body to relax. It will kill the stretch. You must be comfortable! When fascia is stuck to muscle underneath, the brain feels restriction and will not allow the muscle cannot relax. When the fascia is releases from the muscle, the body can relax. Your body is unique. Expose it to different challenges and see which one it responds to the most. Then concentrate your efforts on mastering that element. The Lunge Hamstring directly addresses peoples’ major limitations in the pike. The ‘Cheating’ Bent Leg Forward Bend helps to stretch the lower back. The amount of the stretch is controlled by leg-straightening tension, and how much you pull on your arms. The Modified Plough stretches all the muscles and fascia around the middle and upper spine, including the neck. In the Hands Free Pike, if you interlock the fingers and turn the hands out you will wind up the fascia more. Master Shoulder Mobility When you raise your arm up there are three phases of movement; first the arm moves in the shoulder girdle, then the shoulder girdle moves back, and finally there is thoracic extension. Doing the partner version of a stretch shows your body which position to be in and helps with neural remapping. It is then easier to do the solo version of the stretch, where you try to reproduce similar sensations. Strengthening the external rotators is important for shoulder health and stability because usually they are the weakest of the Rotator Cuff (RC) muscles, and because it is the combined forces of all the rotator cuff muscles pulling the head of the humerus into the glenoid cavity that creates shoulder joint strength and stability. These muscles are small, and usually can’t be seen (under other muscles) and all four move with the shoulder girdle. If these muscles cannot actively stabilise the shoulder joint, then the larger shoulder muscles (pecs, lats, traps) will be switched off (inhibited) by the brain. The Rubber Cord Sequence helps focus on shoulder positioning. It gives you a clue as to where to work today. Master The Back Bend and Arch Body Hold Do a counter pose after every back bend. Counter poses relax all the muscles involved in the main stretch. Counter poses reduce whole-body tension following a hard stretch. Hip flexor length is fundamental to doing a good back bend but quads can be extremely important too. Better to think of quads–hip flexors as one muscle group. Don’t expect your body to be the same every day. Don’t expect both sides of your body to have the same range of motion. The goal is to try and even your left and right side out over time. It is important that the stretcher is relaxed to facilitate the stretchee relaxing. This is not obvious, but if the person sitting or lying on you is tense or nervous, that tension will be communicated to the stretchee. Awareness of pelvic position and what goes on in the front of the hips is invaluable across all movements. If you have a sore lower back from sitting, a hip flexor stretch may help relieve it. The capacity to bend the spine backwards is best developed passively first. For most people the thoracic spine is the most inflexible part of the spine. Only do passive back bending on a stable object (Swiss balls are unstable, which makes them excellent for some strengthening exercises, but they deform under the shape of your spine, so are limited in the extent they can help you loosen the thoracic spine). From a health point of view it is more important to have the spine flexible bending backwards than forwards, as this is the ROM that is lost first as the body ages, and the changes that accompany ageing are all in the other plane (so tightening of pec. minor and long head of biceps, flexion of the thoracic spine and shortening of the rib and abdominal muscles). Office work intensifies this process. Passive back bending reverses it. The Wall Quad Hip Flexor stretch with a partner is the strongest combination stretch of this sort. It’s very effective even for people with good hip flexor mobility. The reason is that both ends of the quads and hip flexors are stretched at the same time. It’s common for people with loose hip flexors and loose quads—when either end of these groups are stretched by themselves—to find that the combined stretch is a massive experience. The Box Bridge is the best way to improve your back bend besides hip flexor stretching. It is an excellent middle and upper back exercise since it moves the compression up and out of the lumbar spine by moving the stretching requirement out of the lower back into the middle and upper back. The Arch Body Hold is a strengthening and activation pose for all the muscles at the back of the body (the “posterior chain”). Sincere thanks to Ashwin. Probably best read together with Phi's "How to use the "Master the..." programs" thread (also pinned).
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    Excellent! Will take some time to really read through and absorb all of this. I made myself a quick PDF copy that I can reference offline and have attached it below for anyone who would like to do the same. I assume you (Kit) will have no problem with this, but if you would like me to modify it in any way or delete it, just let me know! Tips from the Mastery Series by Ashwin Tirodkar.pdf
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    Noticed that I kinda only update this log monthly, but it works well as my training is pretty boring , and one month is sufficient time to make little progress for update purposes. I think I achieved side splits with the feet turned towards the ceiling version yesterday, but I'm not entirely sure, as it feels like I might have cheated the position somehow. There was almost no stretch once I hit the floor if I recalled the experience correctly. Anyway, the version I'm chasing is the martial arts Chinese version with feet flat and facing forward. It feels like there was not much progress, but taking progress pictures do help as it does show I am inching towards the full position. Here's a pic of my current middle splits: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVha9M2gwsv/?taken-by=dexter.goh Anyone else find it hard to stretch piriformis after an intense side splits session? Kit did explain that piriformis works very hard when abducting the legs in pancake and SS, very uncomfortable to get into a piriformis stretch for me after stretching middle splits hard I have again started to do hip flexor partner stretching at least once per week after stopping it for a few months, the last session I was able to get really deep and had one arm linked with my partner for some additional stretch, boy was it intense! But felt extremely good, now if I could only fully relax in that position. Also started to work more on my bridge, shoulders surprisingly feels pretty decent: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVcFbY8A9Dk/?taken-by=dexter.goh. Hip flexor is still the main limitation I feel, along with thoraric extension. Hoping sessions on the baby whale would improve that over time, though I'm only on it 1-3 times per week at the moment. My handstands have really improved over the past month, I am very close to hitting the milestone of a 1 minute freestanding handstand. My coach will only program more handstand stuff once I hit the mark, so I'm pretty eager to want to hit it, personal best was 55 seconds so far, at this point it is more psychological more than actually physical. The steady ramp up of volume over the past 5 weeks gave me a bit of warning signs of golfer's elbow, so I had to drastically reduce volume the past week, I also stopped all pulling work for the week as I believe heavy gripping during FL work aggravates it. I focused more on stretching the forearms, along with rehab/prehab work which consists of lots of eccentric wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, wrist novel movements and also rice bucket method. It feels better already and I will try to restart my FL work though at a much lower volume to be safe. Till next time~
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    See here; Olivia has been immensely busy this week: https://stretchtherapy.net/audios/ As well, and for the first time as far as I know, there are four x 90' recordings of the exercise sessions I taught at BUBS; from the web site: The following is a unique collection of the full audio of four exercises sessions Kit presented at Bandar Utama Buddhist Society, Malaysia, prior to the 45 minute sitting session each day. Their focus is the first satipatthana (there are four; the first foundation of mindfulness is the body). Kit approaches all the exercises presented from this perspective, and the cueing includes pointers on what to look for in the mind’s reactions to what is happening in the body – what you find might surprise you. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time recordings of this nature have been made public. Each session is about 90-minutes long. Enjoy, and please share/link to anyone who might be interested.
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    @Jonas W I basically go to my maximum range but still a position I am able to hold actively. No discomfort, though when I first started working side splits, I would always get a discomfort in the TFL area, which is why I always use a lacrosse ball on my TFL and glute medius area now before stretching side splits. I do a few short contract-relax cycles every set until I get to my maximum and then I start counting towards my isometric. I would say to just work your isometric at a range where you feel safe, but also where it is a bit uncomfortable, its supposed to be hard work
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    See here: http://vimeo.com/ondemand/frontsplitsprep If you want front splits with square hips and minimal lumbar extension, you need this program. Buy Liv a cup of coffee! I will be posting on this pulse technique in my 90-day challenge post. It developed out of the ballistics protocol (and I am still using this approach for some exercises) but for some of the more subtle things one wants to enhance (and awareness is much enhanced with the pulsing compared to the ballistics) this is the way to go. More over at the other thread.
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    Don't listen to it. Instead, move your awareness out of the head (where it is involved with the monologue) to sensations in the body—feeling what's happing in the body, right now. Repeat as necessary! What did the guy with the 5lb glass sphere say? Six months minimum to get anything going? Meditation is the same. Of course you can't stick with it—your mind does not want that (actually, does not want to be seen). As for "I should be doing more climbing..."—there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, etc. Same for everyone. You can't do everything, so decide what you want the most, and devote your time to that. The metaphor is perfect: if you are juggling too many balls, put one or two down. Thanks for posting; it's lovely to read, and it is the modern dilemma.
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    Just wanted to show off my shiny new baby whale that just arrived from ST headquarters
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    6/8 Thu. Heavy UB. Bouncing, burpees, Yuri sequences, dislocates, and handstands, followed by: RTO Support: (Paired with MWS) 2x20s. Manna Wall Slides: (Paired with RTO Support) 3x5. Felt good. Will keep moving up. OAC (pulley assist): 3x3@5kg assist. 5kg felt okay today, so I left the assist there. Managed the full 3x3, so will continue with this and add an extra set next time. HSPU (elevated against wall): 3x3. Made 3x3 here, too. Will add another set next time. Front Lever Rows: (Paired with PPU) (12X0) Tuck 3x3. These were tough, but squeezed them out. Planche Push Ups (parallettes): (Paired with FL Rows) (10X2) Prehab/Misc.: German Hang 1x60s, Cuban Rotations +10kg 3x10, Pike Compression Very slowly making my way back to where I was. Hopefully I'm working some weak links along the way. Not letting the shoulders ride up/not letting the traps take over is one thing I'm really focusing on as I build back up, and I hope to see favorable results with that. Need to get back to daily HF work and add pec minor in there, too! Edit: Forgot to mention... Found out yesterday that I got a big job I was really hoping to get, so I'm super excited Totally unrelated, but just wanted to share
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    I hesitate to link this because people like to name their "conditions" and then all of the sudden "something is wrong" and they are "broken" But have a look at this Wiki article about thoracic outlet syndrome. Basically, you have a bundle of nerves passing through that area and they have likely become sensitive. Did you screw up? What is screwing up? I would say you simply discovered something. It's up to you how to process that discovery. I would suggest not worrying, but rather treat it with care and explore. Perhaps avoid your neck exploration with the head unsupported for a while
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    Sunday's Practice: Warm-up: joint mobility, sections of "Form of the Father", a tai chi sequence taught by Fighting Monkey. Squat sequence, shaking/bouncing, leg kicks Skill-Work: crow to headstand kick up to handstand. Managed to stick the landing a few times. The less I kick with the legs/low back and the more I explode off the arms the better my form feels, the less of an arch as I end up in handstand. Not sure if that's proper technique...Played with some air baby, can get to 1 finger on each side although it will be a while before that finger will lift. Feels like a strength/endurance limitation rather than balance, it's intense on the obliques. Strength Circuit: -Pull-ups alternating grip: 7,7,7,8,7,7 -Pike Push-ups with feet elevated: 5,4,4,3,5. These felt more challenging than normal, perhaps because I was working that motion dynamically in the skills work -Rows: 5x12 -Pushups on Parallel bars (feet elevated same height as bars): 7,6,5,5,5. Working on increasing ROM and lean as I go down. -Leg Lifts Pike and Straddle variations on parallel bars: 5x12 Tuesday's Practice: -Front Lever & Planche: 10 sec on 10 sec off for 5 rounds. 3 sets. I tested my Planche after all this work and I managed to hold the tuck without resistance bands for about 10 seconds (a first for me). It seems I wasn't challenging myself as hard as I could have, which means I should start with the tuck hold without bands next time I train the hold, keeping the toes of one foot down and alternating. Today's Practice: Floor work, Release technique. Started with my usual warm-up then began to improvise and flow. Played with Crow to headstand kick-up to handstand and Macaco. Would any one like to offer some feedback? Not sure what I should be focusing on to clean it up. Finished the day with a community Fighting Monkey class. Love Aswad (@trumovmnt) he's an amazing teacher, so happy I found him. We began class with Stillness practice. Horse Stance transitions starting from straight legs in a straddle to balls of feet, bending the knees forward and squatting down keeping the heels lifted then placing them down, hold then straighten. A lot of fun partner work with the practice balls (head, ribs/pelvis, feet, then combination of all three, then keeping the feet planted). Helicopter partner game. Class time flew by too quickly. Met some awesome people too. Body feels great after a long day, now to study for my midterm! At some point I will write a post (it will be a long one) about the walking breathing meditation I've been doing inspired by the workshop I took with Steve Maxwell. Nothing new under the sun, I'm sure there are people who practice this, I'm just surprised at how I've been able to systematize and create progressions for breath holds while walking. Been feeling incredible benefits from this practice. Thanks for reading, Boris
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    Yes, me! Stretch piriformis first is the best way, I find; doing this usually results in less cramping, and then stretching again after SS will be easier, too. These tissues (all the external rotators) are trying to help you spread the legs further (hence the cramping, like when you point your foot), and they are also squashed in between the grater trochanter and the ilia when side splitting. Side, but relevant note: turnout can reduce this impingement; and the structure of one's hips determines whether hyperextension of lumbar spine or turnout will give you the easiest wide-leg position.
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    The goal of the contraction is to contract with a good steady contraction as hard as you can for the duration of the set. if you contract too hard at the start you die early so that becomes a nice gauge. Also contracting too hard stops the breathing which is another key thing to avoid.
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    I began my academic career in medical anthropology, Alexander, that part of academia that construction the theoretical base of Lorimer's work—and a paper I wrote there in 1988 (Low back pain: review and prescription) was radical, then. Outside of physiotherapy, the bio-psycho-social model of medicine generally (Kleinman) has held sway for a very long time now. I am familiar with the literature, but science and the current narrow "evidence-based medicine" are blunt tools that do not look at the lived, subjective experience of being a human being—and that's where our present work sheds real light. Pain is simply one aspect. You have heard me mention "pain is a sensation' suffering is the story we tell ourselves about it": this is how any experience is constructed. The whole of one's life is similar in this regard. Can you link to his book please; I could not find it on Amazon.
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    Standing heavy calf raises to near failure, with cautious deep flexion between reps, then the wall calf stretch between sets. Little to no DOMS despite the deep stretching and some cramping on the last reps I know Im re-inventing a wheel you discovered, but like I say it's started to make sense for my body.
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    6/15 Thu. Heavy UB. Bouncing, burpees, Yuri sequences, dislocates, and handstands, followed by: RTO Support: (Paired with MWS) 2x20s. Manna Wall Slides: (Paired with RTO Support) 3x6. Added a rep. Height felt really good today. OAC (pulley assist): 4x3@5kg assist. Added an extra set. These finally felt really solid today. HSPU (elevated against wall): 4x3. Added another set here too. Last set was tough, but overall felt solid. Front Lever Rows: (Paired with PPU) (12X0) Tuck 3x3. Kept these at 3x3 but felt really strong throughout. Planche Push Ups (parallettes): (Paired with FL Rows) (10X2) Prehab/Misc.: German Hang 1x60s, Cuban Rotations +10kg 3x10, Pike Compression Finally a session that felt pretty good! This was the first time since taking an extended break that an UB session felt pretty solid overall. Not sure if it was recovery (food/sleep) related or if my body is just finally ready to start working again, but I'm happy either way Today should be a SS session, but I'm considering doing it with LB tomorrow. LB session will probably be a bit rushed, though, so I might just get it done later today. We'll see
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    It seems like I'm making better progress and starting to break through a bit of a pike plateau now when including more of bent-to-straight leg varieties and also unilateral stretches instead of only both sides at the same time. Right now for the pike I'm doing 3 sets of jefferson curls supersetted with a head-to-wall neural glide (neckflexion+kneeflexion, then neck extension+knee extension) a few repetitions, followed by foam Rolling. Then I do more static bent over weighted pike stretch, but not in the jefferson position but with more of a hip hinge position, followed by trying to achieve it actively without weight, and then against the wall. Against the wall I vary between starting out with flexed knees and extending one at a time, working both with agonistic contraction (i.e. hip flexors), quads, trying to extend the knees, a few reps on each side, as well as doing both legs also. I do a few rounds of those. Today I finished the pike stretches with doing seated stretches, first both knees from bent to straight, then one at a time and also gripping the foot and working with plantar/dorsalflexion to get a neural tension effect, then doing one leg at a time without gripping the foot, starting out with a correct hip hinge and trying to extend the knee. After that I do the pancake stretches, and then the hurdle stretches for lats and quadratus. All in all it feels pretty good right now, so im gonna stick with this for a while and see if I make good progress. I'm gonna look through Kits videos a bit more in-depth also and include things like the elephant walks etc on a more frequent basis.
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    Hello everyone, I was thinking I'd post here every now and then documenting my progress in making myself more flexible and mobile. A brief background to that is that I started stretching systematically around summer last year (2016), trying out various approaches, but the core of it being in the Foundation series mobility exercises, like the Jefferson curl. I've been approaching it very carefully as to avoid aggrevating a previous herniated disc and sciatic symptoms. The symptoms have flared up frequently (with that exercise in particular), but still been under control, and with proper rest I've felt my body go from stiff as a board to slowly more and more mobile. I still have a long way to go though. I'm far off from all my mobility goals right now: pancake, full pike, full split and front split. I've had a few smaller hamstring and adductor sprains, but those heal pretty fast. I've tried reflecting on my methods every time and trying out various approaches. Right now I've sort of eschewed most of the passive stretches altogether, and focusing on active mobility with a dynamic and/or isometric component. A lighter version of Van Zandt side/front split progression for side/front split. For pike I do jefferson curls, active/semi-passive with my head/back against the wall for extra support and reaching down actively with hip flexor strength and gradually easing into the stretch, as well as seated varieties. For pancake I do an elevated seated version on a stepup board with either a 10kg weight to help me forward or just with my own weight, and then seated on the floor as well. I did the back against the wall version as well, but now I feel I can reach forward enough to get more out of the abovementioned stretches that they seem sufficient for the time being. I started doing the pancake stretches more recently, january this year. I could barely sit in a neutral position and felt my back wanting to arch back. I'm still sort of combining my attempts of hinging at the hip and some arching when I do this stretch now. I have no idea what a fast or slow progress is in this, but I'm just happy I'm progressing and getting there one step at a time. Just noticed I tagged the wrong date on the lower pics, it's supposed to be 17, not 07.
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    Just posted this. This is my best pike to this date. Stretched yesterday and after going the the initial soreness I felt the barrier had moved dramatically so I decided to give it a go.
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    It's been an interesting week. After a long and hard training day on Tuesday, I had a pretty terrible night of sleep. Wednesday I felt drained and couldn't wait to finish class and work. Any movement practice was light and focused on limbering and decreasing soreness, which was very intense around the hips from the Kinstretch sequence and the single-leg RDL's. Thursday was better. I went to a 2 hour Contact Improv basics class, a much needed yin practice. Nothing like bodies rolling around on each other and on the floor to help release tension and soreness. We worked through what the teacher called "known pathways," a solo practice of transitioning from prone to supine to sitting, changing levels in various ways, before using these pathways with a partner. I liked his definition of an Inversion: "when the center of gravity (sacrum) is above the center of consciousness (head)." This applied to the basic shoulder rolls. Friday was another light day. Practiced juggling. FINALLY getting comfortable and decent with the 3 ball cascade. Although I've only been practicing for a little about once a week, I was still surprised how difficult the skill was to learn. I had to confine myself to a little circle on the ground to teach my feet to stay planted and my hands to throw the balls more accurately. My friend showed me the next pattern, Tennis, where every 3rd ball arcs over (and eventually ever ball will arc over the center for the reverse-cascade). This pattern showed some progress. I met a very interesting human on Friday at the park. He was practicing Contact Juggling with a medium sized, 5 lb clear sphere. It was incredibly beautiful to watch as it flowed on the back of his arms, around his neck and chest. Such amazing movement and incredibly challenging to learn. He said almost everyone who he has t aught it to quits because it takes at least 6 months of dedicated practice just to get something cool going. Most people don't have the patience for it. Very interesting to also see him balance this sphere on his head while juggling 5 balls... Today, after mobility and warm-up I did some climbing on the 45 degree wall. V5's were challenging and I tried a few 6's. I'm finding the lack of confidence in my climbing, a feeling of clunkiness and a greater inclination to muscle through movements instead of using good technique are areas of improvement. The lack of confidence stems from a feeling of "not enough," as I should be dedicating more time to climbing (I have a real aversion to that word, I feel everyone these days loves to tell people what they should be doing). What's interesting is that people who watch me climb tell me that I look very fluid and controlled on the wall...as Kit said, my mind loves to torture me. Any remedy for this? I've tried meditation, can't seem to stick with it. What's been helping is journaling at the end of the night. 3 pages of mostly nonsense but it helps clear my head and I notice my quality of sleep greatly improves. Are there any other practices people suggest? Thanks for reading, Boris
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    Saw a PT today concerning my right knee. Multiple ankle sprains in the past, hypermobility in the ankle, hypomobility in the hip are taking my patella out of alignment (umbrella term: patellofemoral syndrome). The lateral structures are particularly tight, especially TFL and Vastus Lateralis. I get a sharp random pain in the patellar ligament when I come in cossack squat, or stay too long in hero's pose. Luckily no meniscus damage. After some soft tissue work, she took me through a Kinstretch sequence (FRC/Spina) to help with internal/external rotation for the hip and taught me CARS for the knee and a close-chained mobilization technique to increase internal rotation at the knee (which is currently 15-20 degrees, the ankle compensates for the rest, hip internal rotation isn't much better). I've added single-leg RDL and Peterson Step-Up to my program. She also showed me a nice stretch to TFL. In the Couch Stretch, turning the shoulders away from the hip being stretched will target that line. Also thought about playing around with the arm position, raising it overhead with the spine in slight extension may intensify it (as if Couch stretch wasn't intense enough). I scheduled another session with her in a couple weeks. She is planning on teaching me how to use cupping for my recovery/yin practice. This used to be done to me as a child when I got sick. I never thought about using it to help open up tense tissues and heal damaged ones. Today's Session: -60 minute rocket yoga flow Break for lunch. Salad, roasted veggies and baked salmon, fried gyoza. Dessert was honey greek yogurt, an apple and almonds. Main Session: Warmup: some rolling/crawling/release on the floor. Yuri's band sequence. Squat sequence. Core: Hollow body (Upper-Lower-Full) 30 sec, Side plank on forearm hip pulses 30 sec plus top leg lift x10, arch hold with 2lb weight in hands overhead 30 sec, wipers hanging from the bar x8. 2 rounds Skill: FL 10 seconds on 10 seconds off, 5 rounds. I used the light resistance band, which allowed me to open into an adv. tuck position and really keep my scap retracted and depressed, elbows locked. I was very happy with my form. Same setup for Tuck Planche, also with the slightly heavier resistance band. 5 rounds of 10 sec on/off. I alternated btw FL and Planche for 3 sets. Felt great after and strong. Strength: 3 sets of each. Pullups x7, Ring dips x5, single leg RDL x12/leg with 10lb weight, Peterson Step-Up x20/leg. FInished with 1 round of rotator cuff sequence: band retraction pulses x40 with hold at end rom, external rotation x20, drawing the sword x20, single arm cuban rotation (elbow on knee to take deltoid out of the equation) x20 with 5lbs. Thank you for reading! Boris
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    Keeping my training really minimal. 1' wall handstand 1' hanging x5 no rest about 5 days a week. Sometimes 5x1' 1' rest if I am working in other stretching / mobility. Backbending every 7-10 days... quite a good frequency keeping things sort of happening. Today hit my goal of 5 minute hang... video not required but whatevs. https://youtu.be/1qjyglz94YY Little while back did a weekend workshop with Zenthai Shiatsu crew, totally awesome, I recommend these guys, they put on an amazing show.
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    This often happens to me teaching workshops. Hahahahaha! Hurts like Hell, too. Usually a pike or a strong forward bend where I forget to relax my abs completely, and the abs try to help. Don't forget the rule: "any muscle asked to do work in the contracted end of of its ROM is liable to spasm". Doesn't matter how long you've been doing this, either!
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    Soreness didn't feel too bad this morning, so decided to go ahead with my heavy UB session. 6/1 Thu. Heavy UB reload. Bouncing, burpees, Yuri sequences, dislocates, and handstands, followed by: RTO Support: (Paired with MWS) 2x15s. Manna Wall Slides: (Paired with RTO Support) 3x4. Great height. OAC (pulley assist): 2x3, 1x2@5kg assist. Lowered the assist. Jump might have been too much. Felt like the final rep would have been ugly, so stopped at 2 on the last set. Will probably bump assist to 6.25kg and work on building volume back up before pushing intensity any more. HSPU (elevated against wall): 2x3, 1x2. Triceps were feeling pretty fried by the last set, so I cut it at 2. Front Lever Rows: (Paired with PPU) (12X0) Planche Push Ups (parallettes): (Paired with FL Rows) (10X2) Prehab/Misc.: German Hang 1x60s, Cuban Rotations +10kg 3x10, Pike Compression, SS Doom Session 5 Midway through I got the feeling that I had more than enough of a stimulus to make this a beneficial session, so I dropped the second pair of movements. Middle 2 "abs" cramped and froze up at the end of my first set of manna wall slides. Folded up and sticking out even after standing up - looked ridiculous Have had the same happen to the top two before, but this was a first for the middle two. SS felt okay. Probably means I'm not pushing hard enough
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    Since my name was mentioned, I will reply. Until a year or so ago (until the age of 70) I did drop backs (i.e. backbends from standing) regularly. It did not need excessive lumbar extension nor did it ever hurt. However, it does also need extension at the shoulders, upper back, and the hips - all needed together to do it safely and under control. There are different styles. In one gymnastics style (I never did this style) it may be done rapidly so that momentum is gained for the next stage, e.g. a back walkover. In this case, there may be moments when you are out of balance, and falling back. In other styles, balance is maintained at every stage, so that one can stop and stand up again from any point. I used to do this in what some have called the "Mongolian style". The spine is braced, the arms are raised overhead, and then a progressive curve is made travelling down the spine from the shoulders, to the thoracic spine, middle spine, and lumbar spine, while the butt is stuck out to keep balance. Once the spine has reached its maximum curve like a C, this is held locked, and the whole upper body tilted back at the hips, using hip extension, while the hips move forward to keep balance. Once the maximum of this is reached, then the knees are gently bent (only a little) to gently lower the hands to the floor. I found it better to get the maximum spinal curve made before attempting hip extension, because I got less of a total bend if I attempted to bring the hip bend in before the spine was fully extended. As far as I am aware (but I do not know) in the gymnastic version, hip extension is started before the spine is fully extended, making more of a dynamic flowing curve. What I have described is what I experimented with and found worked best for me. Jim.
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    That's ok, underdoing things is better than overdoing!
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    Wed - Back DL 3x10x120kg. Technique focus to use a bit more leg and less back. Have recently been trying to ST stretch the relevant parts after working them hard. This always used to feel counterproductive, but Im starting to feel the opposite.
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    Today's Practice: Floor flow, started with some structure and moved into improvisation. Created an interesting shoulder sequence. Supine, hands in a T-shape, I start with a twist bringing opposite foot to hand while pressing the other arm into the ground and away from the leg that rotated. This line felt great as I actively pulled the arm-leg in opposite directions from each other, so I decided to explore different lines by position my arm on different angle in the arc while the leg also moved to create the oppositinal force. I also explored pronating/supination the forearm and internally/externally rotating the shoulder joint. The rest of the warm up was Yuri's band sequence, some skin the cats and a rice bucket sequence to prepare the forearms/wrists/fingers for climbing. I spent some time climbing, mainly sticking to the 45 degree wall. I managed to clean up the V5's I struggled with last time, got a V6 and projected a V7. After this was some Skill work: Front Lever and Tucked Planche with resistance bands. 10 seconds on 10 seconds off for 5 rounds, 3 sets alternating btw the 2 patterns. Limitation is the FL was grip because of climbing and core. Strength work was 3 sets of Rows with feet elevated for 10 reps, parelletes flow: L-sit to Shoulder stand to Croc on each arm to straddle sit back to L-Sit and single-leg RDL's with 15lbs for 12 reps. I challenged the balance a little by standing in a soft matted surface for these. The L-sit bent arm press to shoulder stand is feeling solid. The pike push-ups are paying off. I'm finally able to maintain a 90 degree bend in the elbow as I lift the legs up, which before was not possible. I finished the session with rotator cuff capacity work, 3 rounds of 20 reps for each exercise. I added poliquin step-ups with 5 on weight for 20 reps as well. Lastly I massage my shoulders with a lacrosse ball. Im enjoying the FL and Planche work. In an effort to keep things simple, these will be my strength goals, perhaps along with HS press. Will give meditation in the morning a go Thanks for reading, Boris
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    Amazing, I would never have thought of that. Life's lessons staring me right in the face. If only I would take my sunglasses off to see them properly. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond @Kit_L , I greatly appreciate your words. Someone dear to me said something similar, "Simplicity Amplifies." When I narrow down what I want to do to a few important things, I can amplify their growth with my concentration and focus. My movement practice is so diverse that progress is incredibly slow in all the different facets. The challenge in now to hone in on what really matters to me. I'll leave the question of "why" for another day (it's worth delving into, although I practice because it's such an integral part of my being and it fills me with joy, I can't imagine myself not having a regular practice).
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    It is a love–hate relationship in the beginning, to be sure! A perfect antidote to anyone working on a computer.
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    Thanks @Cam Ogle! Quick heavy LB this morning. Toyed with the idea of putting it off until tomorrow since I didn't have Wed. off like usual and hams were a bit sore, but went ahead and got it done. Glad I did because everything went pretty well. 6/9 Fri. Heavy LB. Bouncing, burpees, squat/hip mobilization, dislocates w/2.5kg, light wrist stretches, followed by: RTO Support: (Paired with Ab Wheel Rollouts) 2x15s. Ab Wheel Rollouts: (Paired with RTO Support) 3x3. Conventional Deadlifts: 3x70g, 3x90kg, 3x3@105kg. Last time was 2-2-1, so this went much smoother today. I think my body is remembering the skill part of the movement. SL Deadlifts: 3x3@90kg. Considered going for 3x4 here but just kept it the same as last session. Felt solid. Prehab/Misc.: German Hang 1x60s, Emmet SS of Doom I figured out how to get around the left shoulder wanting to drop in German hang. I just moved my hands in a couple of hand widths to a point where the left shoulder isn't ready to go further yet. Being very careful, though, because I can definitely feel more stress on the right bicep with the closer grip. Tried using two yoga mats for SS work today, and that worked great. They didn't slide like I thought they would, and I instantly got a few inches lower because I wasn't feeling apprehension about slipping off the edge of the one mat. Of course intensity was up too. Might feel this one tomorrow
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    09/06/17bw- 90.6injuries- nonesoreness- upper back Extended Warm up- incl. shoulders, scap, wrists and plenty of glute activation workFront Squat- bar x 10, 40 x 5, 60 x 5, 70 x 5, 85 x 5 (knee sleeves, oly shoes- no belt)Tuck Front Lever- x 10s, 5s, 10s, 7s, 8sOHP- bar x 10, 40 x 5, 45 x 5, 3, 5Again not quite getting the amount of time I want in the gym but I'm consistently getting in there so I'll take that for now and build as I go. Front squats felt boss. The weights not that heavy but 85 moved almost as fast as 40 did. Part of me thinks I should just front squat and deadlift and leave back squats out of it. The other part of me feels I have unfinished business with back squats and I want that double bw squat before moving on. The question is how long do I give myself. Both tuck FL and OHP were pretty solid although I lost focus throughout the sets. Also wasn't making it any easier on myself with front levers as I was still wearing my lifting shoes.
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    Tuesday did 100 handstands over the day. I wanted 108, but decided it is ok to settle for less. This was a great challenge, the counting over the day makes it worthwhile in itself. Last handstand was 44 seconds. Most were just finding balance and trying something, 3-10s - wanted to get some kick up practice in. Pretty informative thing really.
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    Wed - Push Feeling quite stiff after my legs day. Played around with some 3 rep maxes on a couple of the Hammer plate loaded machines. The seated dip station was entertaining as getting in and staying in the seat at 140kg (BW+40kg) was not straightforward!
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    6/7 Wed. Light LB. Bouncing, burpees, hip mobilization, dislocates +2.5kg, and light wrist stretches, followed by: RTO Support: (Paired with Pike Press Compression) Pike->Straddle Press Compression: (Paired with RTO Support) Glute Ham: (Bend->extend with assistance from hands during extension) 3x5. Pistol Squats: 3x5@20kg added. Sumo DL (Speed Focus): Prehab/Misc.: German Hang 1x60s, SS of Doom Kept this really short again. Bumped each exercise up 2 reps per set. Glute ham work feels pretty solid, but hard to gauge well since it's assisted. Tried holding the weights at shoulder level for the pistols, but didn't really notice a lot of difference in back activation. Will see how soreness patterns are affected. SS was intense today. Tried without the yoga mat first since I'm running out of mat, but just not enough friction. Will play with a double mat setup next time.
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    6/6 Tue. Light UB. Bouncing, burpees, Yuri sequences, dislocates, and handstands, followed by: RTO Support: (Paired with MSH) 2x20s. Bumped these up to 20s since they've been feeling fine. Middle Split Holds: (Bent Leg) (Paired with RTO Support) 3x10s. Bumped these up a bit too. Not getting much height, so may stay here for a couple sessions. OAC (Pulley Assist): 3x4@10kg assist. Was going to go with 3x5, but could tell that wouldn't happen. Managed to squeeze out 3x4, but probably need to work the numbers up slowly. 10kg assist seems like the limit to not being awkward, so will work with that for now. HeSPU: 3x5. Still tougher than expected. Strength is there, but endurance just tanked after the time off. FL Rows: (Paired with RTO PPPU) (1X02) (tight tuck) 3x5. Decided to work second pulling movements in for a while before working the second pushes in. RTO PPPU: (Paired with FL Rows) Prehab/Misc.: German Hang 1x50s, Cuban Rotations +10kg 3x10, Pike Compression Still slowly ramping back up. Going to take a lot longer than I hoped Endurance just disappeared. But hey... I've got no deadlines German hang was strange today. Left side released and dropped down pushing toward a full dislocate, but right side was still holding on. Tried to even it out, but wasn't happening so I just called it a few seconds early. Will have to hold the left side back until right catches up.
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    Sat - Push Continued the theme of more sets across at a slightly lower weight. Shorter breaks too, not that I take long breaks. Sun - Golf 9 holes (rain got too heavy to continue), so so. Still struggling with long game consistency, so +12 of which +8 on 3 holes, so +4 for the other 6. Mon - Pull Cautious return to RDL 3x10x80kg, seemed fine. Threw in a 12' metcon 6 KB Snatch 16kg, 9 Situps, 12 Air squat at the end as I havent really done much cardio last two weeks.
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    6/5 Mon. Delaying UB until tomorrow due to other plans, but got in a quick SS of Doom session just now I really need a wider yoga mat, because I think I'm holding back just to keep my feet on the grippier surface.
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    Only takes a few seconds of stretching it out What's worse is that it usually happens much more easily after the initial cramp (until some time has passed, anyway)
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    I bought the master the pancake videos yesterday. I'll be sure to add your suggestions and see how it feels. Thanks a lot Kit. Another things I noticed was when I tried that chinese hip grinder. I haven't really experimented around with doing internal rotation in that position, and when I did a posterior pelvic tilt there I felt a stretching sensation very similar to the more painful ones I've felt the times I've injured myself in isometric side split stretches. That feels like something I definitely need to work on as well.
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    @MarkTN: we did not take images of the DWB workshop—just a room full of people doing nothing! Re. sitting and kneeling: in my experience, far and away the most important aspect of your sitting is the quality of awareness that you bring to the activity. The Buddha spoke of the "four postures of meditation" (lying, sitting, walking, and standing) and in his day, that would have covered all possible activities)—so I assume the directions for the First Satipatthana (foundation of mindfullness, in the Satipatthana Sutra) are that they be followed at all times one is in any of these postures. Accordingly, the idea of being present all the time (or as much of it as you can!) arises, and the concept of yoga in daily life. In the Buddhist world (in Theravada, anyway) practitioners are called 'yogis' even if they do no yoga. I recommend that you use both positions, as you are, and remind yourself at various times, "What's happening now?" as my learned colleague Patrick likes to remind students. This way a widened awareness can affect all aspects of daily life, rather than being a practise one engages in when sitting.
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    Hi and welcome Jonas! Check the master the pancake overview pdf (https://kitlaughlin.com/Master_Series_PDFs/Master-the-Pancake.pdf) as a reference. There are some more in the Master the Pike one, too. Cheers
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    @Kit_L Here are the images of me in the advanced p.exercise. http://imgur.com/a/Q9Rvs Multiple angles for both sides. After doing the right side, i noticed my hips were unsquared, so when doing the left side i was actively squaring my hips. And yes, hip flexors and shoulders are still my tightest areas. Both work in progress, but progress is coming along nicely. Very excited for Singapore!
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    28/05/17 bw - 91something injuries- tight right hammy soreness- all over Warm Up Skipping, joint rotations, wrists A1) Low-ish bar Squats- bar x 10, 60 x 5, 80 x 5, 90 x 5, 100 x 5 A2) Frog Stand- 8s, 8s, 8s, 7s, 4+10s Ring Dips x 3, 3, 3 Finally back in the gym. Been way too long but excited to get back into routine. Body feels sore and tight in so many places that I'll just train through the week and work it out as I go. Tried lower bar placement on squats and the first 4 sets were great. The 5th set not so much but bar speed was still good so not all bad. Frog stand I'm getting more and more comfortable with. I'm going away somewhere warm for a week in 10 weeks time. Want to build a nice solid block between now and then.
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    My first advice is to take it easy. Don't stretch an acutely inflamed nerve. I'm sure there are other opinions as this is a stretching forum. Its sounds like you overworked these delicate tissues in your quest for for the most "intense" stretch possible. The separate cervical nerve roots merge to form the brachial plexus. Working vigorously with the neck could strain the scalenes, tension as well as swelling and inflammation can pressure the brachial plexus. Paradoxically, stretching the scalenes is one of the best ways to heal soft tissue induced thoracic outlet syndrome. Consider soft tissue brachial plexus impingement as similar to piriformis syndrome when a down stream muscular compression cause nerve symptoms distinct from radiculopathy. I agree that releasing the scalenes (along with the pec minor) is an excellent strategy for many brachial plexus issues. I also recommend consider stretchng the subscapularis. Because this large, powerful muscle is difficult to touch I think it's often over looked. The subscapularis can impinge the brachial plexus as it emerges from the axila similar to how the scalenes can impinge the BP as it enters the torso. This is my experience and understanding. Hope it helps. I think it's Effective to try working above and below, up and down stream, especially with neurological issues that have a soft tissue impingement aspect.
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    @harryg: As Kit says, improvise. The world is a big place, and there is nothing special about the-thing-that-is-called-stall-bars. Simply look for something similar. The world is a big place full of things, and if you pay attention I am sure you will find something. Same for the rings - it does not have to be a ring, or even round. Think about the function and find something that can serve that function. That said, you don't have to do all of the stretches in the program. Feel free to pick and choose!