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Found 8 results

  1. There used to be a topic for dramatic or unusual poses, but I cant find it, so am starting a new one. I hope I've got the identification right, as I've never seen it like this before.
  2. I guess many of us have heard of the serratus anterior muscles – they run from the edge of the shoulder blade forwards to the side of the ribs, and are used to pull the shoulder blade forwards. They are sometimes called the “punching muscles” for obvious reasons, and also contribute to shoulder stability and strength, being heavily used for instance by aerialists. In well muscularly developed people, they are visible as a set of muscle ridges on the side of the ribcage. However the name serratus anterior suggests there might be a serratus posterior too. In fact there are two of them, superior and inferior. I got an introduction to them in a recent ST class with Sue Kelso where she got us to massage our upper back against the wall using a small hard rubber ball, first moving the shoulder blade to the side and out of the way. The area was surprisingly tender in me, suggesting that I hold chronic tension in the muscles there. Later I looked at the anatomy, and found that the area of tenderness most closely corresponded to the superior serratus posterior (upper bands of muscles in the picture). They run from the vertebral processes to the ribs (definitely not onto the shoulder blade). The muscles are in a layer just under the rhomboids. The action of the muscles is described as elevating and pulling back the ribs. I suspect that I was holding tension there as a way of helping to stand upright and counter my tendency to forward stoop. A stretch for these muscles would be something like the ST “3 Amigos” which uses a forward bend in the upper back, and drawing the shoulders down and forward to increase the movement of the ribs. Then that got me thinking about the inferior serratus posterior muscles (the lower band of muscles in the diagram), which I think solves a puzzle that I’ve had for ages. These muscles run from the lower vertebral processes upwards to the lower ribs. Their action is described as depressing the lower ribs. However, if the front of the ribs are fixed (e.g. by strong muscular activity around front of the ribcage) the action will become lifting the lower vertebrae. In the days when I used to bend over gently backwards and put my hands on the floor behind me, and then slowly stand up again, I found it enormously helpful if about 2/3 of the way up, I was able to contract a band of muscles around the lower back near the bottom of the ribcage. It was as though someone had put a hand on my back in that area, and was lifting me up. Until now, I’ve never been able to work out what these muscles might be. But now I suspect that they were the inferior serratus posterior muscles (I certainly felt them in the correct area), in the second mode of action described above, lifting the lower vertebrae on a fixed ribcage (remember once you are in a backbend, the direction of the action will be different). Stretches for this area include deep spinal rotations combined with a forward bend (many exercises). I also find that now when doing my (now minimal) standing backbends, I tense up both the upper and lower of groups of muscles in preparation. I wonder, does anyone else do this stuff and does anyone have any corresponding experiences? Thanks, Jim.
  3. I wonder if anyone else has information this - I'm trying to work out the main restrictions on backbending at my hip. E.g. in a total backbend, such as a bridge (gymnastic) I have very little backbend at the hip, and if I could improve this, my total backbend would improve a lot. 1. If my knee is bent strongly, then I have very little backbend at the hip joint. This suggests a rectus femoris limitation. This is shown for instance if I do a lunge (one foot in front, the back knee on the ground, with the back lower leg upright against a wall), and then try to drop the hips forward - I have very little movement (and the front of the hip joint hurts like hell - sorry, I mean there is a strong sensation). 2. In a forward split (where there is a backbend at the hip joint of the leg going back) I can lift my back foot using the hamstring, and then pull it closer to my torso with my hand. The fact that I can use the hamstring to lift the back foot (and can then pull it quite a bit further), suggests the rectus femoris is not the limitation when my foot is on the floor. However, after lifting the back foor to its limit and then putting it down, the hip joint definitely feels looser. So stretching the rectus femoris (which is not limiting the movement) frees up the hip joint. The only thing I can think, is that either (1) there is a connective tissue tightness across the front of the hip joint, or (2) if muscles are involved, there is a fascial adhesion somehow from the rectus femoris onto the iliopsoas (maybe the same sheet of fascia crosses both muscles). If it is the first possibility, then I just have to stretch the front of the hip joint with a fascial-directed regime (long held stretches), if the latter, working on iliopsoas and rectus femoris with muscle-directed stretches would help too. I wonder, has anyone else faced this issue, do you find the same thing (limitiations not fitting with the anatomy of the muscles), and what exercises have you tried? Thanks a lot, Jim.
  4. What are some good alternative stretches for improving extension in the spine, for back bends, without aggravating the tendonitis in my triceps? Stretches like the box bridge cause too much stress on my elbow and triceps on my right arm. Any kind of pressing movement will give me a slight pain in my elbow. "Ex. 2 backward bending from the floor", only works if I press mostly with my left arm, and only add the support of my right when I can fully extend both arms. With the elbows on the floor I still feel a pain in my elbow. Passive backbends over a support do not cause pain though I feel as if I either am doing the exercise wrong, thus feeling no stretch, or I need to make it more intense. The rehab process is going great and its getting better. I just don't want to put any undo stress on my elbow. Also, I don't want to lose time working on my upper back for the sake of my elbow. If needed, I can explain with a video to illustrate the issue.
  5. I'm a little confused about the cues when preforming a passive backbend on a wheel, roller, or bench. In both the Backbend Mastery Series and S&F its required for you to relax into the stretch once you have your upper back stable on the support. Is it implied that I should tuck the tail during a passive backbend? I'm feeling a good stretch from the bottom of my rib cage through my abdominals without tucking my tail. I imagine there has to be some stretch in the lower back during a backbend, though without causing any compression? I just feel like I'm not understanding the proper cues. If I were to tuck my tail and breathe/relax into the stretch, I'd lose the tail tuck as my hips travel downwards or when I take a deep breath. That and I feel like my abs are continuously contracting without allowing a backbend to take place.
  6. Hello everybody, I have a question about counterpose and backbends. Why is it that everybody says that after some backbends you have to some forward bends to "neutralize the spine" but nobody says you have to do some backbends after your forward bends? Why is this so called counter pose needed only in one direction (after backbends only) ? and what do we exactly mean by "neutralize the spine"? It is very intuitive for me, in my practice, to do a forward bend after a full bridge pose. And when I'm working on my front splits and do a lot of forward bend, my body doesn't need any backbend. I want to understand why. Many thanks
  7. I am prompted to address this (1) because it has been in my mind for a long time, and (2) because of a recent comment (by Edd) in relation to Kit’s L3 Floor Backbend video which deals with this issue and recommends relaxation of the back muscles in backbends. In addition, many yoga instructions say to keep the back muscles relaxed in a backbend. Kit has always said to keep the back muscles relaxed. So clearly, some people think it is a good idea and therefore it must work for some people. However, I disagree strongly, at least as it relates to some others (including me). If I try a backbend and do not control it by using the back and abs muscles correctly (see more below), I tend to “crunch” the lower back. In fact, in my 20s, when I did not know anything about stretching, I damaged a facet joint in this way (shown on a much later CT scan). By keeping the muscles tight and in control, I experience a safe and comfortable bend. Some other people have also found that keeping the muscles relaxed leads to pain, which disappears when the muscles are activated. In addition, backbending contortionists use the back muscles enormously to control and support their bending. What muscles are being used? I find two types of muscle action. (1) The abs – probably via their fascial connections, which seem to tighten a girdle around the waist, which then supports the spine. (2) The spinal muscles – and these are probably the deep spinal muscles, the multifidus and rotatores. Developing conscious control of these muscles takes time but is well worth it. In contortion work, an essential component is the feeling of “lifting” and “lengthening” the spine by use of the spinal muscles when in a backbend. I am currently spending time on an exercise to particularly develop this feeling – it is like the yoga camel with arms overhead, but unsupported. Kneel up, and have a pile of yoga blocks on the floor behind you (I start with 4 high). Arch over backwards with arms overhead, remove the top block, come up, go over again, remove the next, etc, until you have removed all the blocks and touched the floor and come up (this feels better than a common similar exercise from standing, because you don’t have to worry about balance and if you cant hold the arch, you just sit back onto the floor). Repeat as many times as you can. If you manage to get the “lifting and lengthening” feel in the back muscles (most strongly in the upper lumbar/lower thoracic region) then when you are coming up out of this bend you get a lovely strong feeling as though someone has their hand behind your spine and is lifting you up. It is a strong feeling in a position in which we normally feel weak (I am currently using this exercise for an aerialist who needs to develop the use of her deep back muscles to control her backbends). Why do different people find different patterns of activation useful? I wonder if it depends on the degree of muscularity and pre-existing flexibility. Maybe an unmuscular loose lanky person like myself needs strengthening and stabilising, whereas a less flexible and more muscular person needs to get the back muscles out of the way somehow, and can push their (less flexible) spines quite safely when relaxed. Note that Iyengar says contract the buttocks when in the camel (Light on Yoga, ex 16) – we expect that this will lead to a chain of activation including the deep spinal muscles. In this context, I’d be interested to see what Craig thinks, as he is quite muscular, and also seems to have quite a flexible spine. For deeper bends (head onto feet) then I need to contract the spinal muscles in the thoracic area hard to deepen the stretch in the upper spine (I have not done this for a few years now by the way; I have lost some spinal flexibility over the years, but then I am nearly 70). Jim.
  8. For all other stretches, I can absolutely see their purpose and I have a sort of intrinsic interest in becoming more flexible in those areas - it just feels like it would improve my posture, well-being, ability to move naturally etc. But with backbends - I just don't understand why I should care. I am absolutely terrible at them: I once went to see a physio for an unrelated issue and all he seemed interested in was how remarkably little I could bend backwards, just because it was weird (apparently). But it's not a direction I ever feel the need to move in, I don't understand what issues it might be causing me - I just don't get the appeal. Also, this may well be unfounded but "common knowledge" seems to be that there is a (small) risk in doing this type of stretch. What are the benefits? [For the record - I asked the physio this same question at the time and he said he supposed it didn't really matter.]
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