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  1. Three lunar cycles is always a highly auspicious time period many traditions claim. I am one week in to this challenge today. I am alternating sets of baithaks (the so-called "Hindu" squats and our ordinary flat-footed ones. Each method emphasises different muscle groups. I exercise/play six days a week. Numbers are done according to how the old body is feeling, but usually 40 B, 30 S, 30 B, 30 S (so 130 total). I will add sets, and then try to join sets. The first set I can always do more, and I am doing them slowly, concentrating on smoothness of movement, and rhythm. High bodyweight squat numbers emphasise muscle endurance, which I need. These are alternated with chin-ups and wall HS supports for time on one day, and horizontal pulling and pushing on another day. Chins are a current best of 7 reps, and then descending sets. The wall HS supports are for counts of ten to fifteen (one thousand, two thousand,...). Then some fairly innovative arm exercises done on one side of a set of parallel bars. Bodyweight dips to start on these days, sometimes. Also current best dip # is 7. Then side splits: all the usual suspects here, including the tailor pose, parallel feet legs apart, then maximum depth with legs fully turned out (I have written about this before, but this is my test to see which of the two methods is most likely to yield success in the briefest time—in my case, SS has come via turnout and not lumbar hyperextension). Two or three repetitions, trying to use the leg muscles to support the body—today, only index fingertip support (feet on slightly wet grass). Turned out, I am at least 6" lower (150mm) than the parallel feet version. A few sets of both. Front splits: the approach I have been using for a while now is a both-legs bent standing lunge, opening out the front leg as far as possible and straightening the back leg as far as possible, and going for depth and time (light arm support). Around 30–45" here, sometimes quite a bit longer, depending on energy levels. Two or three sets. I intend to ask Miss O to film segments of these sessions in the next week or so, and I will post on YouTube. This too is part of the 90-day challenge: we all should be able to see what progress looks like (and it will keep me toeing the line!). The biggest difference I have felt is that compared to the Monkey Gym days there is much less DOMS (I am nowhere near as strong, so this makes sense to me) and I can feel that, currently, I have quite a lot less energy than before, and I know instantly when I ned to stop. On the other hand, this has been improving over the last few months. WRT SS and FS, I have been improving every session, and this is new for me. It might be that because I am muscularly not as strong, there is corresponding less resistance in the movements (my tendons and ligaments have been conditioned now over a great many years of these kinds of practises) and so far no real DOMS—only the awareness of having used the body the day before. If anyone would care to join me in this challenge, please append comments/images/posts/numbers below. Let's do this together!
  2. Came across this video: I only skipped through it because it is quite long. It points to faults in training that lead to damage. It reminds me of a friend who was trained as a rhythmic gymnast in the early/mid 1990s. She said they were encouraged to sit on each other in straddle splits, or the teacher pushed them. This may sound OK, but apparently there was NO KNOWLEDGE of the role of turnout in allowing hip abduction. They didnt bother to turn out. One girl had her pelvis fractured, and has been left with reproductive issues ever since. She said she didnt blame her teachers, because "they were only teaching how they had been taught themselves." This is inexcusable; even I as an amateur knew about the role of turnout many years before. It makes you wonder about the level of training of gymnastics teachers (in gyms by the way, maybe those who teach in schools have proper qualifications). I hope they are better informed now. The video had a mention of this paper: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29506306/ (Thomas et al 2018; The Relation Between Stretching Typology and Stretching Duration: The Effects on Range of Motion) - available free if you go to the "pirate" science literature website at https://sci-hub.se/ and put in the reference, I find it easiest to use the DOI which Pubmed tells me for this paper is DOI: 10.1055/s-0044-101146). The paper amalgamated results from a large number of studies on hamstring stretching. The age range of the subjects was 10-46, and the duration of the training sessions varied from 4-16 weeks. The results were analysed into active stretching (held stretches with the stretch held by the antagonist muscle), passive stretching, ballistic stretching, and PNF stretching. Where no distinction in the papers was made between the first two types (how could anyone report results like this???) they just put them in a category called static stretching. The results were that active, passive and static stretching were best and statistically indistinguishable from each other in their effects (not surprising as the categories seem to overlap), ballistic stretching was worst, and PNF (from descriptions it seems to refer to what we call CR stretching) in between. Also, increases in flexibility were greatest the more days you did/week, up to 6 and dropping at 7 days. Time spent stretching was the critical factor, not the length of number of each session independently of that, but while 5 minutes total PER WEEK was better than less time, there was no improvement with longer times. Well some of this experience differs from what has been described in the ST community. 6 days/week best? It suggests they're not stretching hard enough. PNF worse? CR has shown itself of proven benefit in ST. I suspect that amalgamating a lot of studies done differently and with different subjects and conditions leads to - let us be frank - nonsense results. Also, even the longest times - 16 weeks - is very short to produce anatomical changes in the muscles (in contrast to adaptations of the nervous system to stretch sensations). So I wouldn't act on the findings of this paper, and am just posting it as a warning. There are some results that seem reasonable to me - from my detailed experience (n=1). Ballistic stretching is poor (for me at least). I am surprised that 5 minutes/week (on a single hamstring) is as good as longer times, but maybe that is true. I certainly spend longer than that stretching but once I divide it up into all the different things I am stretching, maybe it comes out to that figure. Jim.
  3. Cool! I would really appreciate to see and learn from a new turnout/tailors pose video from you. I will defently try to implement more partner stretching..it is a completely different feeling and helps me to relax way more in the stretch than doing weighted stretching. Concerning the picture from the hip flexor stretch: I am touching the yoga block with the front of the thigh. Every rep I try to push it away a bit more far. But it is defently not a hard resistance which I can relax into. It is more a target to reach to get deeper. But I feel this is a quiet "active" approach. Whereas I think during the next month/years I want to experiment/train more with your relaxation based approach. Looking forward for your updates on the turnout specifics on your YouTube channel! Andi
  4. I have seen this, yes, but not in everyone. That's a good degree of extension and alignment you've got going in the image above. My only reservation about this approach, is that the front of your leg is not touching anything – and it's very hard for the mind to let go of the fear of tearing something if there's nothing pressing up against the front of your quad. And if your leg is in space, it is almost impossible to let it relax much, and definitely not to the extent that we need it to relax to to get the maximum amount of extension in psoas itself. It is very hard to achieve this when you're doing the stretch that you're doing, and that is the reason I recommended doing the partner hip flexor as well. But if you can't find a partner, keep going with this—you can see your thighs are almost in the front splits position. Re. getting out of the tailor pose: have supports high enough that you can use your elbows/arms to lift yourself out, or drop a rope from the ceiling in front of you so you can carefully pull yourself out. I realise I have not made a turnout-specific video and I should – and I realise that that's not even in the Mastery program either. The reason I have not done this up until this point is you actually require a partner who has really strong hands and arms. I will ask Miss Olivia if I can demonstrate the technique on her, and I will film it and put it on our YouTube channel so make sure you subscribe there and when it goes live you'll be the 1st to know about it.
  5. Hey kit! Thanks for your recommendation! I liked the partner hip flexor a lot, when I did it. My problem here is consistency missing a regular stretching partner. I currently do the exercise in the picture attached, to work the hip flexors (integrated in my program). I definitely gained some flexibility in iliopsoas due to it (also some ROM gains in the back legs front split ability). But for the moment it does not (yet?) carry over to better rotation. Do/Did you see it often that opening up the hip flexors helps carry over to improve rotation? I defently think that external rotation (that's what you refer to, when talking about turnout, or not?) is the missing link for getting better in legs apart for me. But here especially my left hip fires up like crazy (doing the tailors pose variations).. also coming out of the stretch is overly intense. Any recommendations of how getting out of the pose might be less intensive?
  6. I would also recommend going over to our youtube channel, and getting someone to help you with the partner hip flexor stretch; it's intense, but could make all the difference. And I agree strongly with Nathan's recommendation of learning about turnout in the link that he presented above. For me turnout was the key to getting side splits.
  7. Hi Andi, Good to hear you've talked with Emmet about this and he gave you the go-ahead to experiment with other techniques. My first recommendation (again) would be to return to daily relaxation practice. What you describe above is a reactive approach. This is not a bad thing, but far better, IMO, is to make the relaxation foundational, so that (ideally, and in time) you completely shift your whole baseline. To try an "even more relaxation-focused approach," you must (re)learn how to truly and deeply relax, not intellectually, but in a direct, embodied way. @Kit_L has struggled with both of these positions in the past and discovered solutions for his body. He may reply here, but I'd also suggest searching the forums. Off the top of my head, you will find a lot of good discussion around side splits and turnout in MaRo's workout log. From a quick search, here is something about tailor pose. There have been threads about FAI as well. Lots of gold scattered around the forums
  8. Your words are encouraging! I don't need the full splits, but some more angle would be helpful. At them moment, I can not hold the posiiton that long. Some muscles always start cramping. It is really had to relax into the position. I do the turnout stuff, cossack squats nearly every day, contract-relax about twice a week and a lot of work towards pancake.
  9. Thanks for this, @Kit_L and I am sorry that it took me so long to reply. First, I was in my homecountry for a week and then I started playing around with these contractions. I feel that I have to be careful and shouldn't do it too often. For me, it is very diffcult to relax in "side split" pose. One problem is that the knees fall "in", mein legs are really crooked (not sure if this is the correct expression). I feel that the adductors are always very thight, it is super difficult to relax them eve just a bit. Working with contractions might improve their ability to relax... I hope! I thought if it is maybe a good way to do it upside down: lying on my back, legs on a wall and in "split" pose and do the contractions like this: a partner could push the legs slightly down and could contract towards "closing" the legs. I will give it a try... After all that complaining, I checked my photos and discovered that I did take a picture of my my "side split" angle in August 2020: It was about 100°. Now, after doing 1,5 years of cossack squats, pancake exercices, tailer pose ect, it is about 120°! It is a lot of work, but at least, there is a little bit of improvement. Thanks to Stretchtherapy, so again thank you very much! Btw. I admire your turnout!
  10. Well done! I'd say your knees are about 60-70 degrees turned out - difficult to be precise - certainly further than mine, which are about 50 degrees (unless I "screw the knee", which means putting feet in full turnout with knees and hips bent, and then standing straight again - not advised). Maybe you can give me a more precise angle. Good work!
  11. @Kit_L "my turnout is almost perfect" - great to hear! Please can you post a photo of yourself, with bare knees, standing in perfect turnout, in other words, with the knee caps pointing out to the side? (ballet 1st position). Would be interested to see! My turnout has hardly improved over the years. Thanks in anticipation, Jim.
  12. There is a saying in the dance world that I heard many times when I was doing limbering classes at the Australian Academy of Ballet, that "the turnout that you take to your first class is the turnout you'll end your career with". It is, in fact, complete nonsense. I had no turnout when I started and now my turnout is almost perfect. I will write a tutorial about this one day, but the key thing is to make every effort to not only point the feet up, but even up and out behind you (this strengthens the external rotators of the hip joint). To work directly on external rotation, you need s strong partner to hold a thigh in external rotation; you then try to internally rotate against that force, then you help the partner externally rotate more, while he is trying to help you do this. It's intense, but extremely effective.
  13. @Kit_L, thank you for the reference to that post. It addressed a lot of my questions concerning APT and side splits. I've tried turnout in side splits but felt it was very difficult to get even a small amount. I'll keep at it. Thanks again.
  14. @Jason: The secret is "turnout". There are two ways into side splits; the first necessitates a strong anterior tilt of the pelvis; here is Mary Lou Retton showing this approach to perfection: see how her sacrum is perfectly flat, while her trunk is as upright as she can get it: Note that her knees and feet are pointing forwards; in other words, her thighs are in moderate internal rotation. Actually, I just did a search here (I knew Emmet and I had talked about this at length; see here: https://kitlaughlin.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1264-rethinking-the-dancers-split/. Please read that thread, and we can keep talking. For many people (I'm one of them) turnout is absolutely necessary to side splits. And, yes, loose hip flexors are necessary, too. The hip flexor partner version (free on my Youtube channel) is the best way in to this one. The basic test is, when you put your legs in side splits, or as close as you can get, what does your body want to do? If you are like most people the pelvis wants to tilt forwards to facilitate the hip movement. Then try SS with your legs externally rotated as possible (feet pointing to ceiling). If your hips go lower, then concentrate on turnout, and get into SS using that direction.
  15. You're so right concering the doctor's advice... And I ask myself why it is not possible to get more physiotherapy. It is much less expensive then going to doctors and they (many of them) really know their stuff. And their work is preventional, it saves so much money when people continue to be active instead of visiting continuously doctors (but it does not provide money for doctors...). Anyway, I observed my running movement pattern. It was raining today and I had to run at 6am, so pretty much on street because of the light situation. I am careful now, but I guess the problems of the toe joint are a result of many years of "letting the knee fall in", especially in skiing. I knew about this problem in skiing, but I was not able to change it. It has gotten better since I do turnout exercices, cossack squats etc. I am really curious for the skiing season!
  16. With "this" I mean running barefoot or in minimal shoes (on tarmac or other hard ground). Altough I am convinced that I don't want to do my running barefoot, I appreciate the goal. I think about doing my weekly outdoorfitness class in minimal shoes as a step in this direction. The "silent running" is the most effective way we train barefoot running with the gymnasts. It is also key for the running up to the vault. I see a lot of strange movement patterns in running and walking in my gymnasts and it is also one of my problems. For me, it is important to make sure not to let the knees fall inwards while running and walking. It has actually changed since I do turnout exercices / cossack squats etc. It is mostly a question of awareness while walking and running. In the beginning of this week, I felt a bit impatient again - with everything. On tuesday, I did some contract -relax in the pancake position which got me some sore muscles (in a good way). Interestingly, my hip loosened up in "splits" (or "towards split") position on thursday. I hope it remains like this but am very careful, I don't want to force anything.
  17. Oh thanks, I'll read this tonight! I already suspected pronation to be responsible for the problem: I think the "turnout" exercices I do also support a better (non-pronated) position of my feet. And I have to blame myself that I neglected these exercices a bit during the summer weeks. And the pain on the toe joint got worse... I generally try to walk barefoot at home (and in the gym and in the garden etc), but for running, I use running shoes with some support as I get the feeling that it does no good to my foot joints when I have to run on hard surface with light shoes. I try to avoid hard surfaces, but it's not always possible in my usual running ( about 2x/week on workdays before breakfast)
  18. Did deep lunge again and again, I felt my hip flexor. This time in a way that I thought: How could I not feel it so far? Until last Sunday, in deep lunge, I used to feel a stretch in the back quad, front hamstring, gracilis etc - never "found" the hip flexor. Now I feel it, pretty heavy. Something must have loosened up in my body. Strange that I don't know what. I am convinced the "rolling on the kneecap" in deep lunge has helped and led the "way to hip flexor". Thanks again for this! I borrowed a middle sized wedge from the gym which is a big help for stretching, it prevents my body from tilting and tiping. So far the best bolster I got. Changes in piriformis as well, not so thight anymore. Nearly daily work on turnout and cossack squats, this is really good!
  19. Yes, sure! And the good thing is that I like doing Stretchtherapy work every day. I do not complain, I just report - and I do report my feelings frankly, which may sound like complaining. I am sorry for this! I like the sitting hamstring limbering with the bent legs very much. Things are happening in my "back chain", glutes, hamstrings and smaller muscles in the lower back. This improves my forward bending in a much better way than any other pike exercise. I think it will improve the pancake eventually. Hip and legs feel a bit sore all the time, but the good kind of sore (like something is happening) - just by doing this position, some cossack squats, some turnout every day and other stretching/limbering by turns. I do work on shoulders as well and I am now able to practise back bridge several days a week (not very pretty though). @Jason thanks for your input. I will certainly try it this way. I do a similar way of working my inner thigh, also with a ball, but without the block. I just ly flat on my tummy and fold the leg out. Maybe I'll feel it when trying. I understand the reason @Kit_L explains why the leg should be straight. I'll also try this, but I'm afraid I am not able to put it straight.. Thanks so much for your suggestions!
  20. I discovered when I come to kind of a standstill with certain stretches, I have to approach it from a differen angle. I am so happy that Stretchtherapy offers different exercices for poses/muscle areas and that it is said that there is no order, not given time to hold it etc. I learnd a lot about what I can feel in my muscles. Eg deep lunge, a pose I do for years. It was never targeted and it never changed. With the approach of not being strictly square but to find the thight line of today, I found out that the square position at the moment is not leading me anywhere. I love the "rolling on the kneecap". I do movments towards cossack squats every day. I do work my "turnout muscles" when I walk. I do turnout exercices. The muscles in my thighs have changed.
  21. Skandasana (feet parallel, and extended leg's foot held on the floor) has the femur internally rotated (so "turned in"), whereas the in the Cossack squat, the extended leg is externally rotated, and why I recommend Cossacks over Skandasana for you. In other words, practising the Cossack and making the leg turn outward will give you the turnout you need, in time.
  22. I am sorry - I wanted to write once a week. I stretch tailor pose once a week. It would be super crazy for me to do contract relax once a day...😬 ouch! My reference for the tailor pose is the video in the pancake course (E1A). I will study the YT-Video today, thans for the link. Yes, I mostly slip forward when pressing on the knees. Thanks for your explanation about the impossiblity of doing turnout in frog position, I understand. I do Skandasana almost every day (moving towards Skandasana - it takes me a while until I come a bit further down) to get towards a Cossack Squat. I try to keep my legs turned out there, it is exactly one of the positions where my knees tend do slip inwards and bend. I will go on with that then. It is interesting that you say that squashed frog did not get you closer to the side splits, but you got side splits via cossack squats and these improved your squashed frog. I never heard that before, but makes sense because the frog feels "blocked" for me while I get a loosening up feeling from doing Skandasana and Cossack Squats. I understand that the thigh has to be turned out do move the greater trochanter into the hip (I had to look at some anatomic pictures first, but it is pretty easy to see then) While I don't "need" full splits in any direction, I really like to improve the angle of twist of my legs in all directions. It would give me so much more range of movement. Eg When I do handstands, it is pretty hard to keep balance because I need momentum to get up there because I can not straddle enough and not pancake enough to get up there slowly. I can compensate a bit with strenght, but not to a sufficient extent (and it is not a good way to go). Once up there, I can balance for about half a minute. So it is the flexiblity which would improve my handstand. Again, thank you so much!
  23. This is not recommended, unless I have misunderstood you: use the contractions every third day only. To experience the feeling of being able to lengthen, it is essential to fully recover from the previous session's contraction's effects—and this only happens when you rest. Do the tailor pose daily, if you want, but without contractions two days out of three—this turns it into a limbering movement. Please be clear about the distinctions between "stretching" (which uses contractions, and yields greater ROM in the session) and "limbering" (no contractions). Stretch twice a week only for any part, especially if it is tight (your case) and you have had injuries in the past. I can tell you from 30+ years experience in this field it is a failure to distinguish between these two critically different activities that is the greatest barrier to people's long-term progress. Regarding slipping forwards in the tailer pose: put the mat on the floor and your back against the wall, and concentrate on using the glutes to pull the legs down (don't press them down with your hands); actually, before I go any further with this, what is your reference for how to do the tailor pose? We have amended the directions a number of times. The free tutorial on YT gas all the latest cues. Short suggestion: concentrate on getting the legs to the floor first, before trying to pull yourself forwards (that is 'part two' of the pose and this will be hugely easier in the hips IF you can hold your legs properly onto the floor with your glutes). In other words, master part one first. It is not possible to engage more turnout in the frog pose (femur position is more-or-less fixed in an internally rotated position); instead, use the Cossack squat (tutorial on our YouTube channel; search on "cossack"), where you can actively engage more turnout. Keep trying to turn the outstretched leg further into external rotation – this allows the greater trochanter to move more easily in the hip joint. It was Cossack squats that got me side splits back in the 'old days', not the squashed frog. Having said that, getting decent side splits allowed me to do a good squashed frog, but it took many years of Cossack squats and other exercises to get there. Getting real turnout was key for me and probably will be for you, too.
  24. Today I did tailor pose stretching after warm up. This is the only pose where I feel really ready for contract-relax and do it about once a day. After the stretching, my knees are about 10cm above the ground which is great! Then limbring with chinese grinder, the oder standing wide leg limbers, skandasana and half pancake. My little problem with tailor is that if I lean against a wall/door, I tend to slip forward. I have a wooden floor which is too painful to sit directly on. So I squeeze a Yoga mat under the door and do tailor pose in shorts (naked legs slip less than leggings). But either I slip on the mat or the mat slips under the door. It is certainly because I am still not able to put my pelvis completely upright, but still, I struggle a bit with this. Has anyone any suggestions or ideas? While the tailor pose improves, I see no difference in frog pose. In frog, it is the adductor longus that restricts deeper stretching. The strange thing is that I don't even feel a good stretch in the adductor. The muscle is like a cable, like an artifical thing which is not possible to lengthen. I can even grab it from outside, it is really solid. I am a bit lost with this, because also in other poses/limbering actions/stretches I never get the feeling that I can adress this muscle strand. I feels as if it is just impossible to let it loose. It has't to do with my "sore spot", this one ist further back. I also feel restriction in gracilis, but this is different - I think I can approach this one slowly. If anyone has any suggestions about how to adress adductor longus, it would be very much appreciated. Is there maybe an antagonist I overlooked that needs to be strengthened first? -------------- after some thinking and trying: is this again the "turnout" theme? When I activate my "turnout muscles" (outside thigh) while standing and do a demie plie, the adductor longus is loose. Is it therefore possible that I am just not able yet to activate these "turnout muscles" in positions like frog or straddle hence the adductor longus can not let loose?
  25. Thanks for those words. I know that it needs time. But, as mentioned, it is really good to read it again and again as the feeling is not always the same as the rationality. I completely second that the movement pattern and posture change and that it is a dramatic effect. What I described a couple of weeks ago - that when I do turnout when standing my spine "unravels" - is a deep, dramatic change for me. At the moment, I do walks nearly every day. I notice that my movement pattern in walking already changed: I keep the knees more forward, therefore I use the muscles (TFL etc.) differently. Liv describes somewhere that we should "pull the pelvis on the backside together" (not the exact words). I noticed that there is some liberation in the adductors and groin so that I can do this a little bit. When doing deep lunge and roll the hip /kneecap, I feel that there is some looseness in the pubic bone (hard to describe). I rekon that this "rolling" in deep lunge could be the key for me working to a certain extent with this position. So far, it was always totally the same... Good place to start stretching for me as well, I think. What I also like much for starting is "working towards Skandasana" in a wide stance, moving from left to right and going deeper and deeper. The support with arms (one inside bent leg, one under straight leg) is very helpful. (Why didn't I discover all this before giving birth? I would have made labour much easier... I gave birth twice and it was very hard both times and I not suspect that it was partly because of my very tight hip muscles.) My relaxation ritual is similar (and I sometimes wake up again from my snoring noise). Especially in the morning, when I wake up really early, I like lying on my back and taking up one leg like in "tree" pose and relax then. This is a pose I can hardly do standing, but which is very relaxing for the groin when the backside is completely supported. In the evening, I do it flat with hands crossed on chest. Thanks for your instruction, I'll try it. Breath counting: In passive stretches, I do 4-8 breathing, about 2-4 breaths /min. I am also open for new input here!
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