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  1. The term elderly doesn’t have a precise clinical definition, though it is often used in medical articles. Elderly has been used for older than 65 to older than 75, and some of us in the ST community are indeed getting older over time. Possibly coming into the definition of elderly at the age of 73, I do have an interest in exercises for older people. I also teach an ST class where the ages generally go from mid 60s to late 70s (though the oldest one has done yoga all her life and has enviable fitness and flexibility). Because it is a class of mixed fitness and abilities (some of whom are carrying injuries and after-effects of e.g. cancer) what we do is necessarily limited, though there is plenty of encouragement for those wanting to do more advanced versions. As well as flexibility, the focus is on core strength, balance and body awareness. One of the features of old age is muscle degeneration and loss of strength, known as sarcopenia. The extent to which this can be prevented or is reversible once it has occurred has been a matter for debate. The current consensus seems to be: 1. The best protection is to have a lot of muscle mass to start with, so you can lose more before becoming doddery. If you are not naturally endowed with a lot, the best thing is to build it up while young, when putting on muscle mass is relatively easy, and then exercise to keep it. 2. The next best thing is to start strength training at any age, even though it will not be as effective as when young. Positive effects have been reported even in the old-old (late 90s) (though that may be from a very low baseline). The strength training has to be for hypertrophy (80% 1 RM, or 5 reps to failure). It’s not appropriate to do this in my group class, and I’m starting a program on my own. Hating weights (I’m the skinny flexible type) I don’t want to go to the gym, and don’t have a spotter to learn styles like Olympic weightlifting, and want to use body-weight resistance exercises where possible. Given that the intention is that the weights will be beyond the maximum that I can handle, it needs to be very safe. At the moment I am doing: 1. Single-leg squats (I can make it more difficult by going lower). 2. Pull-ups – if I ever get good at these (like I was when young) I can try to move to a single arm version. 3. Push-ups (see no 2 comment). 4. I’ve tried shrugging up when in an elbow stand against the wall, but can do that too easily. I don’t want to do it with bending-to-straight arms (in a handstand) in case I collapse on my head. 5. Pull-ups holding a low barre with body almost horizontal (feet on floor), pulling the chest up to the barre (see no 2 comment). I don’t know if anyone has any further suggestions, and I would appreciate hearing if anyone does - remember that the muscles need to be maximally loaded and it needs to be very safe. I’d like to be able to exercise all major muscle groups just using body weight alone. Doing free exercises this way means that accessory muscles will be exercised as well, though I guess most wont be loaded heavily enough to combat sarcopenia. Should there be a special ST flavour for the elderly? The problem here is that there is such a range once people are in their 60s-70s-80s. The fittest will be able to do the same program as a younger person, while others may be limited to exercises like sitting in a chair and rotating their wrists 5x one way and 5x the other. Comments appreciated. Thanks, Jim.
  2. The title is a bit off I know, but I am old myself. As well as classes for younger people (splits and deep backbends for aerialists, dancers etc) I have a regular ST class which is now populated by people in their 60s to late 70s (the oldest in fact has enviable flexibility, having done yoga all her life). But they include quite a range of people – some are like her, others are working round arthritis, the after-effects of cancer treatment, and more. My ST class as well as including standard ST exercises is intended to address some of the issues that people come with. I have found the following (some of which are probably primary, others secondary): 1. Lack of agility in simple movements. 2. Inefficient patterns of movement (in e.g. getting up off the floor). 3. Lack of confidence in simple movements. 4. General tightness –probably muscular as well as connective tissue including fascia. 5. Anterior dominance including weak and tight posterior muscles. 6. Poor core strength and core reflexivity. 7. Poor posture – excessive lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphosis, head-forward posture. 8. Poor balance. 9. Poor body awareness. 10. Lack of strength. Some accept this because “this is what happens when you get old”. However I try to educate them that many things are possible as you get older, though you may have to try harder than a young person would. Because my classes include exercises for dealing with all of the above, the regular members now all have good function in these areas, unless held back by injury. My hope now is that they go home and educate their spouses (I also have a two-for-one offer to encourage spouses, though it is rarely taken up). The regular students obviously like it, having been coming to me for years. The rapid improvement shown by new members is heartening. I know one response could be “just do the standard ST program” and this is what I try to adhere to closely, but with a flavour to deal with the above issues as well. Some of the core exercises are drawn from Pilates, and the balances are various one-foot balances. I would like to introduce some more dynamic balances with e.g. wobble boards but do not think it would be safe with this group in the spaces I have, where there is nothing to grab onto if falling. To catch yourself when actually in the process of falling, I think you need rapid reflexes, and these need practice, though unfortunately they don’t get it in my class. I wonder if anyone else has experience with this age group, and whether they look out for other things too, and any comments on my program and approach. Jim.
  3. I initially came across Kit and Stretch Therapy in my quest to understand flexibility. Through much trial and error, then finally getting actual flexibility results myself that made sense, I think I found out what flexibility truly is. At least a far greater understanding of the mechanisms involved. Kit seemed to be one of the few people that aligned with my thought process. I browsed the forums and watched a few of his videos for further information. I found we didn’t completely agree on the topic but that is to be expected. The similarities and differences pushed me to reach out to him directly through e-mail. He requested me to post our e-mail exchange in the forums and if I wanted to continue the conversation, to do so here. I don’t know the best location for this post or the best way to post the following exchange. I decided to copy and paste the e-mails in their entirety so the full context is preserved. Each post will be a different e-mail. There are a total of 13.
  4. Hello, I need some advise here on strength training. My background is ballet dancing and swimming as a teenager, racquet games and yoga as a adult. I am pretty flexible, and have no problem getting into bridge, pancake, front and side splits. I have recently started Taiji and found that has improved my lower body strength substantially, not to mention stablisiing the knees. My problem is getting upper body strength. While practising yoga, I always have problems with stablising my hyper extended elbows in downdog and all the arms balancing poses. I can't do a downdog without feeling strain on either on my right wrist or elbow. I can't do Chaturanga without feeling the strains on the neck and deltoid. Somehow, handstand gives much less problems. For the past one year, I hardly do any these poses but been focusing on gaining better range on my shoulder with Stretch Therapy Exercises. The exercises are great. They have settled quite a few of my issues on neck and shoulder and importantly learned to deactivate overused muscles on the neck, shoulder and arms... . I am currently running a centre teaching others ST. I am small-sized, 5 foot 1 and 99% of students are bigger than me! I wish to gain sufficient upper body strength correctly by using my own body mainly. I need the strength to assist students in class as well as doing simple household chores like lifting a heavy pots. I am currently doing some simple wall planks, getting the shoulder to protract and using the core. On the floor, I still feel the strain on wrist and elbow. Any suggestions to improve are welcome.
  5. Quick background story: I injured (pulled) my right groin during partner stretch at the end of taekwondo class when i was 13years old. I was unable to land any weight on my right leg for few days and it really never healed well enough after that. I quited taekwondo for studies 15years old. On early twenties i went back to taekwondo, i had became very stiff while doing nothing meanwhile my studies (studied music as a pianist and sat all the time). At the begining i really didnt even remember my injured groin when i only focused how much i enjoyed just doing taekwondo even tho my leg didnt raise any higher than waist level. I then slowly started to stretch and regain some of the flexibility that i had in my childhood. And let that be my background shortly. I just wanted to make a point on my injury. After doinh taekwondo sometime. I had gained enough flexibility to hurt my groin again. I let it heal. Didnt take long until i injured it once again. I went this cycle of injury to heal to injury few times, until it started to make me mad and i started serious research. From pavel tsatsouline to jujimufu and anatomy study i assimilated this one simple consept: "weaker muscle tense more". Thats when i started serious training to rehab my groin and make my muscles stronger. I started from as simple as tom kurz's deep horse stance squats. After that i added kattlebells to my training. And started to do this: Firts without weight i did as many leg openings as i could bear. Usually over 100 (legs opened around 115degrees). After gaining some strength i added 4kg bells each foot. Then i did for example 60->rest->40. As i gained more strength i added more weigth. On that photo i have 10kg kettles each leg and i did 25+25+25+25 or 30+30+40 depending on day how my legs felt. I avoided strength training when my legs were still sore. I want to make a point that keeping knees locked is important with these weigths. Also i always tried to be in 100% control when i was doing this and didnt let my legs fall go to total maximum so that stretch reflex would kick in. This was dynamic rather slow than rapid and fast movement. No static active holds on max ROM. Now i had developed fairly strong adductor muscles as i reached 16kg kettles each legs. I moved to next step. Which is: I didnt start this low but my starting point was fairly low becouse of kettlebell strengthening workouts i did before. After 2 months the result: And my groin had never felt better Stuff i read: Jujimufu (legendary flexibility) Pavel tsatsouline Tom kurz Kit laughlin had nice writings and videos that helped. And this one: http://www.martialartsplanet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96381 If anyone else have injury. Strength training might be the answer. -Harri
  6. Highly off topic, but as a proud Dad who is the greatest non-sporty wimp possible, here is footage of the (Dutch) team my son trains, as basic athletic skills coach for the Netherlands Olympic committee. As he says "A lot of weights, focus on peak power and lower mileage: We're doing things differently & it's working" (listen to the commentary on their efficiency, explosive power and relaxed style).
  7. Greetings all, I’ve been observing the forums for years to be honest and I’ve come across a concept that I’d love some input on specifically from the Stretch Therapy forum perspective. Some of my interests at present are Gymnastics, parkour, grappling, qui gong, Pranayama, Parkour, olympic lifting, ballet, trying to grow facial hair and rock climbing. I have been researching different training methods used by Olympic Coach Charles Polliquin and stumbled across the fascinated idea that brain chemistry dominance will dictate an individual’s optimum training frequency. Secondly an individual’s brain chemistry could be linked to traditional Chinese medicines 5 elements. Charles explains this in https://www.t-nation.com/training/five-elements For those not familiar with Polliquin he has decades of training Olympic athletes and can boast 18 world record holders. I’ve personally benefitted from incorporating his views on cluster training and periodization. According to the test I register as Acetylcholline dominant which poses some interesting questions for my own practice as it states that I would benefit from reducing my training output. This is going to first be challenging as I often train under coaches and would have difficulty asking for 40% less output during my ballet class. Secondly as this contrasts my entire approach to learning skills, I’ll often immerse myself in a skill daily until I feel I have mastery over it . As an example I practice handbalancing daily as I’m terrible at it. What I’d be very interested in from the Stretch Therapy community is: -what brain chemistry dominance have individuals found? -how have people adapted there practice/ research? Thanks in advance for any input Jarad For anyone interested in doing the test for themselves you can find it here http://advancedpsychcare.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/braverman.test.pdf Although I recommend that you take the time to do it properly (good nights sleep, not hungry) as you’ll only be able to do the test once. I’d imagine if you try a second time you’ll bias the answers.
  8. This is a spill over thread for comments from a post in my Facebook group that is going crazy with good information. Some of us are using this year to Intensify footing and lower leg training, and see what good things occur. No 'formal protocol', though people will discuss individual protocols, exercises and observations. Personal responsibility is taken by all who join in and experiment. Please let us know if you discover something interesting! A lot of us have already noticed wide ranging benefits from this type of work. Some get bigger feet (*cough* Craig), other's have had no noticeable hypertrophy but large increased in function, ripple on effects through the body - even thermal tolerance increase. So, please join in the fun! http://physicalalche...-foot-foot.html D
  9. Holy moly; it's Autumn! I've always been interesting in seasonal rotation of exercise.. currently pondering what would work for Autumn (suggestions welcome). It does have a winding down towards winter feel to it, but I still want to enjoy training outside in the sun whilst it is still warm (and frankly Sydney gets nowhere near as cold as 'tha 'berra'). Training - keeping up the isometric work, which is going really well, but possibly not the TSC protocol for a month or two. Adding back in some more concentric/eccentric exercise.. Also, hopefully I will be adding in some thai pad rounds in once a week! (training partner dependent).. Ideally, I'd love it to be two times a week thai rounds (medium intensity) plus medium strength on the same day, in the same session (hybrid workout); and one intense strength session plus all the restorative/explorative/movement work on the light/rest days. We'll see.. I'm also toying with the idea of bringing back one strong ST/PNF style stretching session per week (or a strength-stretch session with kettlebells and bands - or some mixture). Goal - Would like to do 18 dead-hang full ROM chin-ups by mid- April.. let's see how we go. The other day - Embedded Static Chin-ups feeling reeeaally good. Much better awareness and contraction through the deep forearm flexors; lats; pecs; abs; traps; etc..it almost feels like I'm returning to the upper body strength-control-awareness I had as a kid - playing around on the monkey bars all the time. Yesterday and three days ago: Alternating screw Push-ups on a bamboo staff with body-weight rows. First time I did this it was 50 reps each; 10 reps each set (plus an extra 20-30 reps just stuffing around with different variants on the bamboo stick). Second time was 3 x 15 reps; alternating rows and pushes. Great fun and great exercise. Workouts ~10 minutes. I also had a really interesting sciatic nerve pathway stretch/flossing explorative session.. some interesting things happened, but method still in experimental stage - so back to the lab for a while yet. D
  10. Late 2012/early 2013 training has been influenced heavily from a number of points that came home to me strongly during the 'Fundamentals of Human Movement' workshop that Steve Maxwell put on in Canberra late last year; and my own continuing exploration/dabbling in movement, mobility and body awareness. I've done some testing so I can mark progress throughout the year. Nothing too special; Chin-up max ( dead-hang and in good form); push-up; one-leg squat; broad jump; vertical jump. And some somatic markers, too. Basic strength work plus movement for a while yet; to condition before doing more intense agility work (deeper goal for this year) later in the year. The methods that I've been trailing in my workouts are isometric Timed Static Contractions (TSC) and Embedded Statics. These, tied in with the Systema style breathing strategies that I learned at the workshop have been fun and challenging on many levels. It's fascinating to work with controlling the urge to making noise or mouth-breath at high intensity contraction and lactic acid level. I get the full ROM in my body-weight movement work throughout the day. I've upped my volume of mobility and movement work, and added many new movements - to great effect! More on the specifics later. Tuesday's Workout: Chin-ups with Embedded statics (10 seconds): 4 sets of 3-4 reps (holds at lower 45; just above 90 and top position of chin-up - 10 seconds each with added over-contraction i.e. not just holding the position with minimum energy/fascial cheating) One-leg Squat hold TSC (just above 90°): 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R] Push-up TSC: 90 seconds with 3 waves of intensity (followed by 5 negatives). Unilateral Shrug TSC (done both sides) w 28kg KB: 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R] One-leg Calf Raise TSC top position w 28kg: 2 x 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R] (Second set was more donkey calf raise angle) One-armed Push-up TSC on knees: 90 seconds w 5 negatives [L:R] Using strength training workouts as also breath-training workouts makes so much sense, to me. The controlling breathing under duress is worth the price of admission alone! D
  11. http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/ Lots of free passed-copyright books on Physical Culture. Great site, if you haven't already been there.
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