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  1. (All references to exercise numbers are to Stretching and Flexibility) Generally, I have been reluctant to include much partner stretching with my (older student; mostly 60s-late 70s) stretch class. Recently, it was because of Covid distancing restrictions, but previously, it was because many students have vulnerabilities and are at greater risk of damage (and poorer recovery) than younger students. However we have always done the partner shoulder depress, and partner arms up behind back (ex 11), both of which they have enjoyed. Recently, because all the students have been with me for a long time and know themselves and each other well (as well as being highly responsible) I have been introducing a few more partner stretches, ones that I myself have particularly enjoyed. These are Partner all fours rotation (ex 49) and Partner lying rotation (ex 8). In my earlier ST experience I found that there were some partner stretches which I did not like, and which I did not find valuable. These included e.g. partner hamstring stretches and partner piriformis stretches. In both of these case the partner forces are directly applied to a simple muscle group. I am wondering if the ones I like (and therefore I introduce my students to) involve a complex muscle anatomy and have a big fascial involvement. Another partner stretch which fulfils these requirement is the partner hip flexor stretch (in its many variants). However I think this is too powerful for my students, but maybe will give it a go and see how they like it. One that I like is knees being pressed to the floor in either tailor pose with the torso upright, or inverted frog (lying flat on back, knees apart and soles of feet together). I am more flexible than my students so may not respond as they do but if I am anything to go by they should like these (although they seem to have expressed a bit of reluctance when I've mentioned it, though we haven't tried it so far). So my query here is for two things - 1. What partner stretches have people found best with older and sometimes more vulnerable students? 2. What do people think of my idea that the partner stretches that feel most valuable, involve stretching complex muscle arrangements and have a high fascial involvement? Jim.
  2. I've recently discovered this gem of a stretch. I've named it the Slingshot ! There is also a longer post in German on my website about it and also more pictures which might be helpful. The thing that excites me the most about this stretch is that solo hip flexor stretches hardly can get you the intensity of the Slingshot. The ST partner HF stretch still is the best one, but few solo stretches come close, if any. Standing variations can come close to the intensity but they also have some strength or balance component that doesn't allow for full relaxation (though these exercises of course have their place too!). To perform the stretch you'll need a power rack or some similar structure that allows to attach some strong bands. A pair of table legs might work too but I haven't tried it. Happy about feedback or suggestions. A weak band won't help much, the only language the hip flexors understand is intensity! To perform this stretch the setup is as follows: First figure out a proper height for the band(s). You dont want the band to extend your foot. In the stretch position the band should be at, or slightly below ankle height. The intensity is determined by the band strength but also by the knee position. The more back you bring the knee behind the line of the band the more intense the final stretch will be. All standard positions from the ST hip flexor stretches work: Hands on floor, arms resting on chair, etc..My personal favorite, if performed in a rack, is as shown in the image above as it brings the upper body in an upright position. A third option is to grab some rings hanging from above (see blog post) To enter the stretch, first kneel on all fours and bring the back leg into position, only then swing the front foot around. Push back into the bands until your setup is complete. Once your are correctly set up slowly let the bands push you forward into the stretch. Should it not be intense enough, go out and bring the knee further back. Also remember to use strong bands. Standard contractions work. I like pressing the foot into the resistance, release, breathe, relax, ... I have also found that this stretch works great dynamically. Move into and out of it for repetitions. At the deepest point in each repetition, press the back foot into the resistance for a count of three, breathe out, bring the hips a bit more forward, push them back and repeat. Some advantages of this version: External support: No partner needed to push the hips forward. It's not the same but the vector is quite efficient. Relaxation: Easy to relax in this position, and it's safe. Accomodating resistance: The band support will get weaker the deeper you get. As the intensity increases I find this works quite well. Easy to adjust the intensity: Band strength combined with the back knee's position in relation to the bands gives plenty of options to set up the right intensity for your body. Please give it a try and report back how you like it! Markus
  3. When I go to do a deadlift my hip cracks a bunch of times. It gets even worse when I flex the hip more and add more internal rotation. I feel like my medial quadricep does not want to compress. Any suggestions on how to stretch the issue?
  4. 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?????
  5. 2016 Hello! I am nervous about adding any hip flexor stretches into my movement practice because I developed patella tendinosis in both knees about a year ago from stretching my hip flexors and quads too intensely. My quads are very strong from a lot of heavy squatting in the past (I have not squat heavy in a few years). Instead of stretching my hip flexors the last year I have focused on strengthening my core and glutes, relaxing, and gaining body awareness and my range of motion in a lot of movements has really improved! --- 2017 After posting on the forum a year ago I attempted the hip flexor stretch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bWQGIm9raw several times but after 5-10 seconds of the stretch my patella tendons in my left knee would consistently get irritated. Instead of putting all my energy and effort trying to stretch my hip flexors (which did not seem to be fruitful), I simply tried to move better and more often. This last year I did a lot of crawling, hanging, squatting, rolling, inversions, etc. Also this last month I have been following the Master the Pancake series and have found great benefit. I am able to find stretch positions that really seem beneficial for my body. However today I was drawn to attempt the hip flexor stretch and I again experienced a similar discomfort on the front of my knee after 5-10 seconds into the stretch. The sensation start towards the front and top of the hip and then quickly moves to the front of the knee. It appears my quadriceps and hip flexors are overly tense when trying to stretch them. I am not sure if the discomfort or soreness I experience on the front of my knee is actual structural or mostly an apprehension reflex. When my quadriceps or hip flexors are not in a stretched position, my knee is asymptomatic. The rest of my movement practice has greatly improved, but somehow I have not been able to solve my tight hip flexor and quadriceps patella tendinosis puzzle. ST Standing Solo Hip Flexor Stretch Left Leg (Relaxed) (Side View) 3-2-2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ1d_Qj4dZ8 ST Standing Solo Hip Flexor Stretch Left Leg (Active) (Side View) 3-2-2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmu3hbs28nI ST Kneeling Solo Hip Flexor Stretch Left Leg (Side View) 3-2-2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7RduD2bM3E ST Kneeling Solo Hip Flexor Stretch Left Leg (Side View 2) 3-2-2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz7t_idS0DA Note I would normally perform the stretching with sweat pants, but I thought it would obscure the video. I also only performed the stretch to the point that my knee felt comfortable.
  6. I was looking for a video showing the Stretching and Flexibility Partner hip flexor Exercise 39 on p.113-4. I cannot find one. In one of the other videos I found it said that this stretch had been replaced by the version with the stretchees body leaning forward (e.g. 04 Stretching Limbering_ E2 Partner Floor Hip Flexor-HD in the Mastery Series). While I like the original partner version (and so do my students) it does have the disadvantage that if there is insufficient control or strength in the abdominal core the back becomes crunched. Is this why it has been discontinued? I have tried searching the forum for the information but cannot find it. However it also seems that at the extreme of the stretch in 04 Stretching Limbering_ E2 Partner Floor Hip Flexor-HD, as at 7:52 into the video, some degree of core strength will be needed to protect the back because the hips are being forced down while the shoulders are being pressed back by the arms, so maybe the same problem recurs here anyway. Or is it reduced? As I explained earlier, for various reasons I am reluctant to sit on my students like this so it would be good to have a powerful stretch not needing this degree of physical contact. Many thanks, Jim.
  7. Hi everyone, I am currently experiencing fairly significant discomfort and muscle tightness in my mid thoracic spine and shoulder, rotator cuff and QL on the left side (lats/traps) which I am working on with the help of various ST stretches especially forward and backward bends, the neck series, spinal rotation and QL stretches. I also have a set of anti-gravity boots and bar and gymnastic bars coming and am working on creating a better fit "baby whale" (barrel to back bend over) as I find it really hard to hit the right spot. Today I discovered that if I clench my glutes really hard then the pain relieves immediately. As soon as I relax it comes back. Like turning on and off a button. Amazing! Further observation revealed that clenching my bum makes my pelvis tip up, reduces the curve in my lumbar spine and makes my shoulders drop back and down a little and my upper back muscles relax. Even more amazing! Fortunately I stand with my back to the wall in a corner at work and I have a fully adjustable standing desk so I can do this without looking too odd. Now I am wondering if perhaps as well as stretching my back I should focus on strengthening my bum (and loosening hip flexors?) If I clench my glutes too much, will I strain or over tighten other areas? Is it possible to strengthen/activate my glutes enough that I can achieve this posture naturally without such intense effort (which I can't keep up constantly - either I get tired or distracted). Finally, I am rather curious, can anyone shed any light on why this is happening? I understand glute strength/activation and pelvis position impact posture and when used correctly reduce back strain, but I thought this would occur over time. I'm surprised by the on/off (like a switch!) effect this is having on my pain. By the way, a Physio, chiropractor, osteopath and GP have all advised the back pain is from muscle tension (described as "like rope" and "like reinforcing rods") caused by typing/desk work and my rotator cuff being strained as my shoulders roll forward a bit like "wings." I don't have a specific injury, more like constant throb and tightness. I also have a patch around dinner plate sized on my thoracic spine, left side, where the skin feels "frozen" or numb to touch (like how hands feel on a very cold day without gloves and fingertips lose sensation). Thank you! Sorry my profile is "faceless" for now, pics on my phone are all too large to upload. I look forward to making my way through all of the excellent info on the threads (I have begun, but there is much to read and experiment with) and getting to know you all better, virtually. Ngaire
  8. Thank you for you videos. I am a high school junior who has been running track and field for three years. My freshman year, I wore shoes with very thin soles--almost like barefoot-running-shoes. Over the course of the year, my hip-flexor began to hurt and my coach suggested purchasing different shoes. I ignored his advice at first because the season was almost over and went into the summer without new shoes. Then, during cross-country season the next year, the pain came back and I decided to get fitted at a running stores (RnJ). There, they said I have an over-pronation and they suggested I purchase a shoe with maximum support. In the end I purchased the Trance 11, and have used 2 pairs of it (there was a slight issue with the first pair after a season of running so they gave me another) for a bit more than a year. The pain was rare at first with those shoes but used to return periodically because my hip flexor was still tight. Now, the pain has returned in my hip flexor. One of my hip-flexors is far tighter than the other (this is the one that pains). i have tried to stretch it with minimal results. I also have tried to strengthen it in the weight room. I was wondering if you could offer me some advice on what to do to help get back to full-training with no pain as soon as possible. Also, do you have any recommendations for new shoes keeping in mind I have an over-pronation? If so, how should I transition into these new shoes? I'd be happy to provide any more information. Thank You for helping.
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