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Jim Pickles

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Jim Pickles last won the day on October 18

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About Jim Pickles

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  1. According to some earlier information from Kit and Olivia, the following move will target the piriformis, and can therefore be used for specific strengthening. Here, I'm demonstrating a way of getting it tired by making it work hard, before stretching it. Points of form are noted at the side: 1. Leg raised more than 90 degrees, 2. Leg rotated inwards so heel is pointing up (and therefore front of knee and foot down, as described). However MarcusO's method looks very good - I'll try it.
  2. A quick reply, as its bedtime. I've just been trying this. I think it depends on the direction of the knees (i.e. the degree of external rotation of the femur). Sitting with knees up and legs out in front, then actively taking the legs apart will activate one set of muscles. However, if the knees are rotated out further (as happens in a piriformis stretch) (i.e. knees starting not pointing up, but out), this activates a different set of muscles. I may be wrong, but I havent had full time to try it.
  3. @Nathan " Sure... If $27 and 32 days were all it took for full splits, then everyone would have full splits " - well, its obvious that they've not tried hyperbolic stretching. I just wonder if the name is a joke - and in fact its all a joke - based on "hyperbole". To see how many gullible people there are in the world?
  4. A friend asked me to comment on this rapid-splits method. I was not exactly positive in my response. See https://hyperbolicstretching.net/fullpower/ However, all is not lost, because I also found this in a website about the technique: "Alex Hyperbolic stretching is a flexibility fitness program that is specially designed for men who are looking to increase their male organ and perform to satisfaction in their responsibility as a man with their wives." Not only rapid splits, but you perform better in bed. Does everything! Anyone have any comments, or any experience with it (in terms of flexibility, at least)? Jim.
  5. Theoretically, we might expect that extra flexibility can give extra strength, if we get extra flexibility because the sarcomeres grow longer. In this case, there would be opportunity for more actin-myosin crossbridges, so more force could be generated. However, there is some evidence that as a muscle becomes more flexible it grows extra sarcomeres. In this case, the force of contraction would stay the same, but the velocity of the contraction would increase (because the sarcomeres are in series, so twice as many in series means that the muscle as a whole would contract twice as fast). I have no idea what actually happens. I did a quick Pubmed search. I cant be sure that I have found everything, because I have not used all the search terms possible. However, I came across this review, that says to increase the number of sarcomeres you need to increase the muscle fibres' intracellular calcium, which is best done by active stretch. Passive stretch just reduces muscle stiffness, most likely via effects on the connective tissue, unless the stretch is so great as to raise intracellular calcium (which I think is likely to cause soreness). In other words, the end-range contraction which has been talked about so much here is best for making functionally useful longer muscles. In the abstract of the review, these are just put as statements and I cant see the quality of the evidence behind them, as the paper is behind a paywall. Maybe someone who has access to the paywalled literature can share it. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22239873 Ta, Jim. Though this is partly relevant (in relation to reducing shortening, rather than lengthening from normal): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22334171
  6. @Nathan - I tried the long lunge isometric hold as in the Emmet Louis video you linked to - not quite as low as the lowest she reached, and held for 2 mins (aiming to work up to 3) with the buttocks of the back leg clenched as hard as possible to open up the front of the hip on that side. Also tilting the hips up at the front, and reaching up and away with the arm on the back-leg side. Wow! Thats a strong stretch! I think it will be my go-to preparation for the hip flexor. I realise that something similar is in Stretching and Flexibility (p. 79) though without the buttocks of the back leg clenched as hard as possible, which to me is the key to making progress in this area. No DOMS after though. Many thanks for posting it.
  7. I came across this article, and suggest the advice would be useful for everyone, not just ballet dancers. It emphasises the importance of strengthening in injury protection (which we all know theoretically, but I at least need continual reminding). https://www.dancemagazine.com/injury-prevention-for-dance-2639821288.html
  8. @Nalradamajo - one of the signs of this adhesion is a pull on the lower inside of the knee when attempting a pancake. It releases over time if you keep stretching; otherwise the massage Kit shows can do it rapidly.
  9. I had a student this happened too as well. I never worked out why. We adjusted the position of that leg a bit, to redirect the forces, and it was OK, though we never really worked out why. I'd be glad to know if you find a solution. (and in response to Nathan, whose response has just come up, in my student it was the back knee.)
  10. Nathan - many thanks for your response. I never found the first stretch you described did much for me, though I must admit I didnt do much CR in that position because I stopped doing it before I came across Kit's method. Also I suspect that the discomfort in the front of the hip stopped me from doing it much. Your second one sounds great and I’ll try it – I do something a bit similar as part of my backbend warmup and will try it for forward splits too. I like going into splits from above, with torso vertical and hips level, so that the full body weight forces the legs apart. Obviously in this position you need some sort of safety factor if not down to the floor, and I used to relax onto a pile of books (adjusted to be exactly the right height). Now with my students I use blocks or fractional blocks, topped by what I call a "squashy block" which is a half-thickness block, made of 4 cut pieces of softish mat glued together, which provides just the right combination of support and resilience to support them while letting them sink and get a stretch. This pic below shows a class in progress. All are using as many props as necessary so that they can relax with full confidence in the final position. Obviously you have to work to keep the hips square and level, and to stop too much of the bend going into the front hamstring. I found it good to precede it with a long pre-tensioningand stretch of the hip flexor by standing in a high lunge (often with the front foot raised on a support) while clenching the gluts and other buttock muscles of the leg that is going back as hard as possible, to push the front of the hip forward, arms raised overhead and leaning away from that side (to direct more stretch into the psoas), held for 3 minutes. I tell them it will give them a firm butt which they seem to like for some reason. In me, it is this that turned the forward splits from something that was occasional to something that is now easy and routine (and I hardly need to warm up for it now). The one nearest the camera now has beautiful flat splits which she does easily and routinely too. Cheers, Jim.
  11. Thoughts on forward splits. We often see people trying to stretch for forward splits like this (Fig. 1): Obviously they are making things difficult for themselves because there is very little bend in the hip flexor of the back leg, and the stretch is almost entirely being directed to the hamstring of the forward leg. We all know that there are a lot of stretches to extend the hip flexors of the back leg so the torso can be held reasonably upright (Fig. 2): One hip flexor stretch is shown below, where the rectus femoris is pre-tensioned from its insertion by putting the lower leg up against the wall, and then the hips are allowed to sink forward (Fig. 3). Many people find this excruciating around the front of the hip, to the extent that they do not allow themselves to get a proper stretch from it. However I’ve been experimenting with rectus femoris stretches where the muscle is pretensioned from the origin, at the hip. In a forward split (which gives a maximal extension around the hip joint) I then lift the back foot off the floor. I’ve been resisting doing this for many years because if the hamstrings have previously been getting a strong stretch, there is a danger that they may cramp. However, as I have become more flexible and splits have become nearer to my normal range, this doesn’t happen so much. Then when the foot is within range of the hand, you can pull it closer with the arm (Fig. 5). If you are doing a partner stretch, then you can ask the stretchee to resist the stretch slightly (by pushing the foot gently into your hand) which reduces that chance that the antagonistic muscles, the hamstrings, will cramp. What I have found interesting, is that after this, the flat split (Fig. 2) becomes much easier, even though the rectus femoris in this position was clearly not at its full extension, and therefore should not been limiting the stretch. This is shown because it is possible to voluntarily lift the foot off the floor (Fig. 4). Also the previously-painful hip flexor stretch against the wall (Fig. 3) becomes painless when the hips are dropped forward. I suggest (in me at least) that there are a lot of fascial adhesions at the front of the hip which affect more than the rectus femoris. These adhesions can be freed by pre-tensioning the rectus femoris at its origin, and then stretching it from its insertion (Fig. 5). I also think there are a lot of individual variations: the leg against wall stretch (Fig. 3) is not at all painful for one of my students, and I have the impression from this and other stretches that she is less limited by fascia and connective tissue, and more by muscle, than I and many of my other students are. Finally, I have found a better way of doing oversplits. Oversplits help bring flat splits into your normal range of movement and let you use less warm up. Usually it is done with the forward heel on a support. I find that because my knees tend to hyperextend, this is not good for my knees, and propping the back of the knee or leg with a support is painful. I have found that if the whole forward leg is supported on a board, it becomes a good stretch (Fig. 6). The challenge here is to make sure the front of the thigh of the back leg is in contact with the mat, and that the hips are level and also fully pressed into the mat: I may use weights to do this in future. I often see people doing oversplits with the forward leg raised much higher, but with the hips very tilted – I do not think this is useful as a stretch. As for whether particular stretches are more limited by muscle or by fascia, this is a fascinating question that I am investigating. It is clearly difficult to decide, and a lot is guesswork and going by impression. I also have the impression that (for me at least) partner stretches are not useful where the primary limitation is muscle, but are very useful where the primary limitation is fascia. Seeing we don’t clearly know which is which, there is obviously a lot of guesswork, but it is part of adjusting the stretching strategy to the individual. I’d be glad if anyone has any views on this. Cheers, Jim. And for some reason the figure below keeps appearing here, even though I delete it. Maybe our esteemed Webmaster can do it?????
  12. Well, I read through his article, but didnt look at the video. I thought what he said was absolute rubbish. The facts are confused and reversed througout. The only thing I would agree with, is that you shouldnt need to be taking fibre supplements. You should be getting your high fibre intake from fruit and vegetables. As an example of the reversed logic: e.g. "If insoluble fiber causes large stools, large stools cause straining, straining causes hemorrhoidal disease, ..." Large stools (which if they come from fibre are SOFT large stools) cause LESS straining, and so REDUCE the the chance of hemorrhoidal disease. All twaddle. I wonder how people can write this stuff. I suppose they have to write something different, to get attention and sell products. Or maybe its just a practical joke.
  13. Following a brief discussion about having the strength to hold yourself up in a straddle split, I was prompted to post this - if you cant hold yourself up, try this instead (Britains Got Talent 2019): BGT_strength_in_a_straddle.mp4
  14. One way to let go is to do what you are doing - focus on a different stimulus, so your attention is distracted from the one you want to let go of. Every time you focus on something that annoys you, you are telling yourself that it is an important stimulus. Naturally, the brain adapts to become more responsive to what is important, so the neural connections between the stimulus and your consciousness and the resulting arousal become stronger (generating the fight or flight reaction, in the extreme). If you distract yourself with another stimulus, over time the neural connections with the annoying stimulus will get weaker and maybe even eventually disappear, so you are no longer aware of it. Every time your arousal level is raised (maybe by the effort of trying to relax!) you are preparing your body for action (fight or flight again) and you will increase the importance of the annoying stimulus for you. That is why relaxing by focussing on your breathing is good, because (1) it is a distraction, distracting you away from the annoying stimulus or situation, and (2) long slow out-breaths help relaxation. As for sensitivity to sound interrupting sleep, use earplugs PLUS a noise generator in the room, to help mask outside noises (it can be white noise, or something relaxing like birdsong, depending what sort of noises you want to mask). With practice, the conscious control of your relaxation will become easier. The brain is set up for learning!
  15. What sort of explanation are you looking for? If you are looking for a description of neural mechanisms, you can search Wikipedia with terms like “attention” and follow up links to the neural mechanisms. You can also search the medical literature at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed. However unless you have a background in neuroscience you will just end up with a list of brain structures with no way of putting them in context, which will mean further studying. Or if you are looking for an explanation from the point of view of subjective experience, then I don’t know what to say, except that for me, one stage is generating a sensory experience associated with the phenomenon I am trying to achieve, and then refining it until it becomes more precise. Reading about neural mechanisms may help illuminate the neural mechanisms involved in this. However undoubtedly there are other things going on as well. But as for making a more definitive link between the neural mechanisms and the subjective sensations, in the end there is a gap that cannot (at the moment at least) be filled: search Wikipedia with the term “the hard problem”.
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