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  1. I wrote to Kit not long ago asking for advice for a problem and it was suggested that I post here. For over two years now, I have been dealing with headaches / neck / jaw pain. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where I am feeling it, as the jaw, front of the neck and suboccipital muscles all feel afflicted. Muscles in the shoulder and middle/ upper back will tighten as well, on one side. The pain will be experienced almost always upon waking, though it will usually alleviate somewhat once I get up and move around a little bit. I cannot lie around in bed at all once I wake up. At seemingly random points throughout the day, the pain will return. It will also wake me up in the night. The randomness of the pain returning is the most maddening part, as I do not feel as though I am stressed sometimes, yet the pain will still come. Perhaps my awareness is so limited, that I simply cannot let myself relax. I have been made aware of the idea that most are aware of the concept of relaxation, but cannot actually invoke the experience. Perhaps I fall into this basket. Kit recommended that I try the hip flexor and neck stretches, and in particular the latest ones from the YouTube channel. I did so (my hip flexors are incredibly tight, especially on one side, from skateboarding - I assume) Kit also recommended that I try cultivate a daily relaxation practice. In response, I began to do the lying relaxation scripts. There is absolutely no doubt that these are effective - both in inducing a state of deep relaxation in the moment (which I honestly believe I had NEVER been able to do before) and in increasing bodily awareness throughout the next day. In the following three days, I experienced complete, sustained relief from the pain, for literally the first time in years. This was incredible - I was ecstatic. Life was beautiful once again. On the third day, I began to stress about one thing or another - the pain returned. I am now feeling as though I am “chasing the dragon” in trying to recreate the relief. I am trying to do the same stretching exercises, though I feel as though I may be stretching far too frequently and not giving the muscles enough time to recover. When the pain comes, however, it is hard to restrain myself from the utopia that stretching provided in the recent past. The pain is also now returning whilst I am trying to do the lying relaxations. I don’t know whether this is because I am missing a muscle group that needs to be stretched, or whether my muscles have been overworked, or whether I am simply stressed and unable to relax. I have just tried one of the seated mediation audios which was better and relatively pain free - I will continue with these. It’s worth noting here that I am currently about 2 weeks out from my final law exams. Undoubtedly stress levels are higher than usual and this must be playing a significant role in this affliction. However I have been experiencing this pain at relatively consistent levels throughout the past 2 years, whether on holidays or during the uni semester. I have only sought to properly resolve the pain and enhance my relaxation in the last few weeks, whereas in the past I was merely putting up with it. I do not know whether it is the stress that is causing the pain, or whether it is the pain that is causing the stress. When the pain occurs, I side with the latter. I find it hard to be relaxed when in pain, and as mentioned, it is severely disrupting my sleep, which only contributes to the stress experienced the next day. I’m sorry for the length of this post and the lack of cohesion. I realise I am probably rambling and I have no specific question. Any thoughts would be deeply appreciated.
  2. I've noticed that my ability to bring my torso upright in side splits is inversely proportional to the depth of the side split. So when I'm at my max side split I have to be leaning forward on something. It feels like its due to chronically tight hip flexors. I'm working hard to relax the entire hip region as I push my torso upright but it feels like it becomes a hip flexor stretch instead of a side split stretch. I feel it a lot on the outside of my hips as well. If I really hold it a long time there's some popping as I go deeper, feels like thinks are getting shifted out of the way. I'm assuming I just have to keep working on my hip flexors to overcome this. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. As always, my most heartfelt thanks for this resource.
  3. Hi Olivia I have followed Kit (and yourself) for a number of years, and my stretching routine is based on your methods. A question for you please. The hamstring and hip flexor stretches I use both come from a similar starting lunge position, with minor positioning alterations. I find that both stretches stretch both the hamstring and hip flexors but to different degrees. My main question is, does it matter what order they are done in? e.g, hip flexor first, then hamstring, or the other way around? Actually, this question could be expanded to include all stretches, but my question starts with the 2 stretches specifically. I hope this is clear? Olivia's reply: Thanks for your message. My apologies for my slow response – crazy times. In response to your points/question below, yes, the lunge position is indeed the base position for both the hamstring and hip flexor stretches. The cues for each are designed to help you target hamstrings in one exercise, and hip flexors/quads in the second. For both exercises, tension in the other muscle group is desirable in order to position the pelvis (and hips) such that the stretch effect is felt in the muscles you are trying to stretch. For example, take the hip flexor exercise. Tension in the hamstrings of the front leg posteriorly tilts the pelvis so that lumbar extension is not incorporated (extending the lumbar spine is one way the body avoids stretching the hip flexors on the back leg, after all 😀, and for someone with lower back pain, lumbar extension can be very uncomfortable and might cause a recurrence of their pain, so must be avoided). With regard to which order to do the exercises in, there is no strict rule here (we don't really have any 'rules' in ST). In our experience, the hip flexor/quadriceps complex is tight in almost everyone, and loosening it is fundamental to good health, so we suggest people start with it. If your positioning does result in the maximum feeling being experienced in the hip flexors of the back leg, it is still the case that the hamstrings are getting some work as well. As an experiment, you could do a session working only on the hip flexor version of the lunge and then feel where the soreness is in the days following – if it is mainly/only hip flexors/quads, then your positioning was perfect. If it is also hamstrings, then this may suggest to back off the hamstring component the next time you do the lunge to target hip flexors, and/or it may suggest that your hamstrings need the work, so next session (after all soreness has resolved) do the hamstring version of the lunge. "Backing off the hamstring component" is done by letting the front leg's knee flex a few degrees; play with this to find how much. A much shorter answer would have been that you will have to experiment and pay close attention to the responses in your body. One more comment. I encourage my students to vary the order from time to time. We as humans are creatures of habit, and like what we already know, so tend to do the same sequence each time. We know that the more novel the movement is, the greater the effect: this is true of order of exercise practice, just as it is of technique used, frequency of stretching, and many, many other variables.
  4. Hello everyone. I hope this is the shape of things to come: my Vimeo on Demand channel begins today Adding @Nathan's Cheat Sheet: https://kitlaughlin.com/forums/applications/core/interface/file/attachment.php?id=811 Once the ST for GST programs are ready to go, this will be the format (but as a "Series" rather than one-off programs, as this one is). A series contains a number of 'programs'; this term will be replaced by exercises in our usage, like this: The Master the Pike Series contains 13 'programs' (exercises); you will be able to buy the series or individual exercises. Maximum flexibility for all. The program How to sit for Meditation can be rented or bought outright, for the princely sum of $3.49! And, adding here courtesy of AndrewL: A cheat sheet if anyone is interested. I have printed this and stuck to my wall, maybe will help others... How to sit for meditation limbering Slow gentle awareness inside body Elephant walk Squat, side to side, knee circles, adduction, rotation Burmese, side with tiny rotation, pelvis trunk walk forward rest, up then either side. Hook thumbs, pull forward again. Change legs over & repeat. Tailor, small contractions, pelvis forward. Stronger balance version. Seated piriformis one leg extended, then bent, breathe into inside of hip Instep, move calf, weight on hip, relieve cramp Quadricep: hold and move opposite leg. then opposite leg on stretched leg CR Lunge sequence, then bent leg, feel what the body needs, gentle, boxing compass Elbow cobra backbend, pull elbows back chest forward, sideways bends Piriformis pigeon Side bend girl seiza with lats pulling arm down Cat/dog just feel what they feel like, no particular effort, follow line around floor seeking tail bending spine. Then with hands pull push/tuck arch. Arms forward, extend reaching hands on floor, then stretch muscles under arms by grabbing one arm. Passive backbend over support (eg rolled towel or cushion), back on support, tuck tail to straighten lower back, support head, gently lower head, reach arms actively, lower tail to ground. To come out put fingers under head, tuck chin, raise head, roll off. Hands clasped behind knees forward bend, leg straightening rotations & head to mid thigh Badly done forward bend lower back via leg straightening Sit and feel Neck rotation Neck sideways, pulling down with lats, roll forward stretch lift head up. Shrug shoulders Head forward, turn look at other leg Seated spinal rotation, shoulder back and down bent elbow. Sit on sit bones, lean forward straight spine, bottom out, lean back, back forward relax tummy, hold hands, lift chest slightly, head back very slightly, side to side feeling where I am front back side to side, relax tummy relax completely, relax shoulders. Ready to sit Sincere thanks, AL
  5. Hi Kit et al, The last time I posted was in 2012...long time. I am still very tight and I really want to get start to address my issues. I read throughtthe START HERE forum. I also took a look at the limbering exercises and know the kneeling side bend would be an issue. As posted in 2012, I can't even sit back on my heels. Still can't. I sit for long hours, I go in the gym and I am pretty strong. This might to beTMI but I will post anyway. One of the reasons why I am keen on improving my flexibility and mobility is due to my belief lacking in these areas are contributing to painful periods (primary dysmennorhea). I eat well, I have been exercising for year, recently starting back Chakra meditation chants as well. So the questions are 1) Is it tight hip flexor muscles that are causing the intense pain that I am feeling (please see attached pic. image on left is comfortable position, image on right is painful position. Excuse the cat) 2) The Daily 5 exercise of the Kneeling Side bend might be a bit problematic for me so is this recommended? 3) Due to my restrictions, should I start with the Absolute Beginners Series even though I have attempted stretching in the past? Or should I start with Mastery of Squats program p.S I suffered a left upper trap injury while doing a back tuck for gymnastics about 4 years ago so I get a burning pain there especially when stressed. I landed on my head luckily I am still alive. So my upper body is an issue as well.
  6. As we all know, one of the major limitations to getting good form in forward splits (one leg forward, one back) is having sufficient stretch in the hip flexor of the leg that goes back. This is usually more of a limitation than hamstring tightness in the leg that goes forward. Playing around today, I found a nice way to enhance the hip flexor stretch. Do your split along the length of a bench, and put your arms down and behind you, and grab the sides of the bench, and PULL. This transfers to a nice extra stretch on the font of the hip and the hip flexor, without straining the spine. Jim.
  7. 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.
  8. Extremely tight hip flexors (HF) seem to be the root of all evils in my body and I'm really determined to do something to about it. Because they are so tight I really struggle to be able to relax into the usual HF stretches (solo and partner versions), except for maybe the standing version. I was wondering if anyone had some tips on recommended limbering/mobility exercises that would help my HF prepare before I get into the more intense stretching sessions? Essentially what I would love to know is what is a good 20 min or so program for me to really get the most out of my HF stretches. I can work on my flexibility for things like squats, pancakes and pykes on other days but I would really like to focus once a week on a solid HS session. HELP?!?!
  9. Hi, it's my first post here but over the last week I've been in touch with Kit. We now decided that it makes sense to share this with other people. I'm an F1 student on GB and I'm additionally a swimming student. Some general info on myself: > 26yo, 184cm x 72kg, very low bf, always been exposed to sports since my youth. Started out my sport career as a cyclist. Competed 7 years until my 18. > In 2002, I started weight training to complement cycling. This had a huge impact on my body structure, moved from ~180cm x 52kg to 183cm x 65kg. After a surgery (orchidopexie, after which I have been advised to use a compression jock/supporter for training and always did so since then) I switched my attention to strength sports. Started training for PLing and competed at Nationals until early 2010 with good results. >This May, following suggestions from my physician, I started to get myself into swimming and to learn the crawl. Moved from not being able to float to swim with decent technique for 45-50’ in 2 months. The first thing I noticed is that I was entirely lacking mobility in my body. I never paid attention to it before, never. Figured out gymnastics could help me in that and I got started with some basic calisthenics routine with the help of a sport scientist friend of mine. Since then, I trained regularly in both swimming and calisthenics. At work, I changed my working position from sitting 10-12h per day to a standing working position, with short intervening sitting pauses. Now, after contacting Kit I purchased the book and the DVD update. I immediately started to work on limbering my lower body. I introduced work for piriformis as Kit suggested and attempted glute activation exercise as well as other exercises for lower and middle back flexibility. Here I report some questions/facts: 1) Harder version of the piriformis stretch (floor piriformis exercise): I can not even fold myself in the front leg. Next steps are out of reach for me now. What I mean is that I do not even manage to lower myself onto the front leg. I feel substantial tension in a region (deep into the mid gluteus, same on both sides) that I recently injured by doing windmills. In contrast, the seated version works fine and I am learning how to feel it properly. However, when I try to arch my lower back in that stretch, I can not even reach a straight line. 2) The hamstring stretch: by the time I start sliding my foot in front from the starting position, I feel tremendous tension in my glutes and I cannot proceed. Actually, over the last 2 weeks I do feel that, even if I just bend to the ground to collect an object. I also feel my lower back very compact, stiff, I hate this feeling! I tried out the modified version of the pike (in the same video), where you use the same principle of sliding the foot to contract the quad and hence inhibit hamstring contraction. If I do that, I can reach a position that I can forget if I just perform the stretch in the standard way . 3) Glute activation. While I was doing the exercise (video is on YT, using a swiss ball), I tried to understand the degree of contraction of my hamstrings and glutes. Hamstrings were fully contracted. Not so much was going on in my glutes. I tucked the tail before and during, but still not managed to have them working properly. 4) I keep going with the lower back stretch. I realized that when I straightened my legs, I was not perpendicular to the floor. If I try to do so, by leaning forward, I feel a tremendous stretch in the calves and this is very strong, yet very painful. My calves are deactivated, totally. I completely lack muscle mass in there, and it has always been like this although I now feel that this is becoming a major problem for the rest of my posterior chain as well. I'd like to explore how to get out of this. Should I start making some video so that you understand the whole picture to a greater extent? Thanks to anyone who will have the time to go through this, Federico
  10. I attach a photo taken at the recent inaugural Monkey Gym workshop in Chattanooga; in it, Ryan (a participant and keen CrossFitter) is shown using a piece of Pilates equipment (the Cadillac) to stretch all the hip flexors. Getting the back leg to the Cadillac table surface is easy: by leaning forwards, and by hanging the lower leg off the table top, you can get the hips square and in the full front splits position. The string hip flexor stretch is then brought on by taking the trunk away from the front leg, using the Cadillac uprights to assist. The partner holds the hips square, and provides the pivot around which to move, as well as weighting the hip joint itself. Three contractions are done: the standard 'drag the back leg through the table top'; the fold up the back leg until there's a stretch, then 'try to straighten the leg', and the novel 'press the trunk forward and down' (uses psoas very strongly). Then the back lower leg is replaced on the table top, and then you try to lift the shoulders and trunk as far away from the Cadillac table top as you can; Ryan has done a brilliant job here. I should add he's 6' + and 100Kg. Very nice suppleness in such a big man. Try this; you'll like it.
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