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  1. Recently I made something I've been thinking about for ages - two boards hinged together to support the legs in the front splits. The pins of the hinges are level with the top surface, so that body parts dont get trapped (OUCH!) as you go down. It has a rubber mat glued on the top surface for comfort and to stop sliding. The hinges are arranged so that the range of movement is 270+ degrees, allowing bending both ways. A problem I have is that my front knee tends to hyperextend in oversplits, and this support means the legs stay straight. Once I got my splits flat, I was told I should move to oversplits, not for aesthetic reasons (I think they are unaesthetic) but to make the flat splits easier and to bring them into my normal repertoire of movements without much warmup. These boards have made that much easier. In the first of the attached pictures (top left) shows the boards raised if you're not yet down in flat splits. You can use a rolled up rubber mat as the middle support, so that you get partial support while still sinking into the stretch. The top right picture shows a flat split. My hips are level and nearly square. Note that I'm pulling myself down and slighly back with my arms. This locks the spine, and makes a strong backward bend at the front of the hip joint of the leg going back - the most difficult thing to stretch. This move has loosened up the front of the hips considerably. The lower left picture shows a 1-block each side oversplit. My hips are almost but not quite level, there is a small gap under the rear thigh, I'm leaning forward more which means most of the extra stretch is happening in the front hamstring. Not too good, but not too bad either - this position will make progress. The last picture on the lower right shows 2-blocks each side oversplit. Too far. Any extra bend in the legs has occurred because the hips have tilted, not because of an extra stretch. Not good - though I see lots of oversplits done like that.
  2. I use a straddle stretch machine - each time, I measure and record how near a straight line my legs are (the distance to the front of the pelvis from a straight line running between the front of the ankles). I realise I can easily plot my "progress" over time. The graph below shows this distance (in cm: vertical axis) as a function of the session number (horizontal axis) - the sessions may be weekly, or (rarely) more often, though commonly about 10 - 14 days apart, but sometimes a few weeks apart, depending on what I'm doing. Among all the scatter, there does seem to be some slow progress - maybe I'll be in a perfect straight line in another 50 sessions (maybe 1-2 years). We shall see (at the moment, I seem to average about 6 cm away from a straight line). Sometimes (e.g. as in one of Kit's classes) I might have seemed closer to a straight line than this, but that was because the forces were applied to the feet and my knees can bend sidways a bit if this is done - not a good idea, as this will destabilise the knees. That is why I use a straddle machine, as the force is applied directly to the knees, not the feet. The scatter in the results comes not only from true variations from day to day (I only go as far as feels right that day), but measurement error, as errors of a few cm add a lot to the variability.
  3. 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?????
  4. I’ve been trying to improve my straddle & middle splits by holding the straddle stretch for one minute, doing frog splits and holding them and doing wall/lazy straddle splits. The issue I think I’m having is that every time I do this stretches I only feel the stretch in my outer hips or with my straddle splits- outer hip & hamstrings close to my knee. I thought the straddle splits required inner thigh/abductor flexibility so I’m a bit confused. Can someone explain what this indicates . I’ve been stretching consistently for the past 2 weeks but I have always felt this discomfort. Thanks
  5. My latest performance from Las Vegas - a bit of flexibility, which is why I can link it here. There used to be a forum with lots of videos like this, but I cant find it now. Cheers, Jim. I tried to delete this post, because I later found the correct forum, but dont know how to get rid of this preview (I know posts cant be deleted, but they can be re-edited to show just a blank). I didnt mean to double-post!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Hallo!!! Just a quick question regarding ballistic stretching. I've been doing the 17 minute bonus Pancake video (part of Liv's Slow Flo 2 VOD) every night for the last three weeks with amazing results. At the end of the video I do three sets of ballistics where I attempt to get my chin to the ground (which I now can). Question, using my chin to touch the ground (head facing forward not down) I'm more likely to keep the back flat and rely on correct pelvic rolling, is this correct? also, with my chin now on the floor is my next target chest to floor? 2nd question, is it silly/insane to want to work on both front splits, side splits and pancake ballistic methods everyday or is this really going to tear shit up for the worse in the longterm? Would an alternative be doing 90 days focusing on each individually? if so, has anyone seen loss of mobility from one when moving onto another? 3rd and final question, Craig is there a copy of your Ballistic Stretching protocol VOD video anywhere that I can purchase? It seems to have been taken down. Does it also focus on multiple ballistic movements or just one? Thank you all so much! I get so much from ST and love how helpful of a community you are X
  9. Hello today I will post my workout log because I find it pretty useful to read other people logs, so maybe I will help someone with my type of training. So to start I want to say that I never trained like this in my past. Before my workouts before were really shitty untill I found out that I was just big ego guy who couldn't say something bad for himself - I guess thats what puberty was for me most. So last summer I got back to basics, I couldn't touch my fingers with my toes and I couldn't do a squat with my heels on the ground but I could do a shitty form back lever hey lol! I trained a lot from last summer and my training intensity went from low - mid - high. So today: One arm passive hang 30,20,10 sec alternating hands One arm active hangs 3x max sec hold 3x4reps oacp pulley sistem with 10 kg handstand negative push ups 5x3 rep - 10 sec descent push ups feet elevated hip size body vertical to floor ( lower intensity than negatives for hspu ) 5x8 RTO dips 5x3 Bulg dips 5x5 I was just practicing mobility here because it's really easy for me but I made a topic about it so I am improving my form, video coming soon dragon flag on bench 5x4 rep One arm passive 30,20,10 sec One arm active hangs 3xmax hold In the end I did 10 min deep squat limbering movements 2x5 mins and I did handstand balance exercises 3 reps each. ( today is not my handstand day) I like to call this day bent arm strength day - MON, THUR static arm strength day - TUE, FRI leg and handstand day - WEDN. SAT
  10. Hello everyone, I just completed Ido's 30 minutes for 30 days squat challenge and noticed drastic improvement in my general hip mobility and the comfort of the deep squat position. I'm curious if anyone has done a 30/30 challenge for other positions like the pancake, tailor, or splits. (I see no reason to reinvent the wheel as Kit has shared excellent programs for these positions, simply wondering what effects I might expect.) I will probably start this process with the tailor pose as it is also used as a common "resting" position in other countries and see what happens. Thanks for any advice! Brian
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