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Where to begin - and how to continue


MaRo

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Yesterday was my first day doing some gymnastics - a little session on every apparatus. I am only doing basic things in gymnastics, nothing wild.

But I can hardly lift my arms today from doing uneven bars... 😋 this is such a specific use of muscles, it can not really be substituted or prepared.

So rest day today, just some easy moving around...

(But by the way, as said bei Miss Downie: the skills don't go anywhere if you stay conditioned!)

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I keep it slow (but steady) this week, concentrating on upper body/shoulders. The bar work is a pretty different load to anything else. It's not that I am doing fancy things on bars, just basic work, but the muscles are reacting.

I do hips, but just a bit every day.

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I have to stretch and limber about 45min / day at the moment just to "remobilise" my body to the level I had. The load of work and training now again after the lockdown has quite an impact and my body tends to tighten. But it is great to do gymnastics again, work with the gymnasts, giving horse riding lessons, private training and so on.

And I am very happy that I know now stretchtherapy methods to keep my body at its flexiblity level. I really like the daily stretching&limbering sesions. I am convinced that it will become lighter again and I will gain more flexiblity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is pretty diffcult to establish a good flexiblity routine into my days now, but I defend this time! I do flexiblity training at the very least for 15min/day, this is always possible to fit in. Usually, I can do between 30 and 60min which I feel I need just to remain at the level I am.

I do turnouts daily, my legs do have changed and I think I feel some improvement on cossack squats. Now I can sit in (still relativly narrow) straddle position and turn the knees up. Now improvement at pancake, but I think I get to the level where I am in shorter time (in about 5min of movements - it was about 15min).

Hip flexor still feels short... keep working on it.

In these normal workdays, I have to take more care about my shoulders. I think it is because of the support/safety work in gymnastics. But I am still able to do the back bridge on basic level.

I also work on handstands. Once up there, I can balance myself (not always and not very long, but a bit). The problem is with going up and I feel that the restriction is also in the flexiblity: It would be much easier if I was closer to splits position. I work on this as well.

The very good thing is that I now have a track to follow, things to do. It is not anymore that I feel I am inflexible and can't do anything about it.

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@MaRo: if this is any help, it took me five years to be able to get my knees to the ground in the tailor pose... And that was because I had not yet discovered the techniques that were necessary for my hips to open (for me, it was pressing the heels together in the plane of the floor that unlocked my hips quite quickly, as soon as I found it). The point is that all these ranges of movement take the time they will to establish themselves, and all have aspects that are particular to you. I feel your current approach is excellent, and the only suggestion I could make is that you do something, and a different something, after each day's apparatus practice – your body will be properly warm then.

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Very good to read this. I "kind of" know it, but it is the daily task for me to find out what's good today. It is totally ok if "things" need five years - as long as these years are interesting, challenging, and approachable. And this is how it is at the moment.

Yes, it is not every day the same that is good. So it is important to keep reading and watching inpunt. I am really greatful that there is so much input. Thanks for that!

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  • 2 weeks later...

As it was raining all day long, I had time for a long stretching session.

And I think I got at my hip flexor for the very first time!

As recommended by Kit, I continued doing deep lunge work in different angles and "hip flexor stretches" which are rather hamstring/quad/gracilis etc stretches for me (like everything around is thight)

Today I did deep lunge for a while, then got to hold my foot for quad stretch and after this, back at deep lunge. And suddenly I felt a new stretch which must have been the hip flexor! It was closer to the middle of the body as I expecet, but looking at an anatomical picture, I am convinced it was it.

How great, after all these months! I just keep going!

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Did deep lunge again and again, I felt my hip flexor. This time in a way that I thought: How could I not feel it so far?
Until last Sunday, in deep lunge, I used to feel a stretch in the back quad, front hamstring, gracilis etc - never "found" the hip flexor.
Now I feel it, pretty heavy. Something must have loosened up in my body. Strange that I don't know what.

I am convinced the "rolling on the kneecap" in deep lunge has helped and led the "way to hip flexor". Thanks again for this!

I borrowed a middle sized wedge from the gym which is a big help for stretching, it prevents my body from tilting and tiping. So far the best bolster I got.

Changes in piriformis as well, not so thight anymore.

Nearly daily work on turnout and cossack squats, this is really good!

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8 hours ago, MaRo said:

Did deep lunge again and again, I felt my hip flexor. This time in a way that I thought: How could I not feel it so far?

Believe it or not, this is the same for everyone. Awareness is identical to this: I am not aware of (whichever thing we are talking about), or 'I can't feel whatever we are talking about', and then we can, and we can't not be aware of it!

Re. hip flexors: please borrow someone to do a partner version of this exercise (all are on YouTube; that's how important this exercise is, and I believe that everyone needs this) and do the strong partner version a once or twice every couple of weeks. Having a person's weight in the right position on the back of your hip, or where the hip and leg join, focuses the stretch effect on the very muscles were talking about. It is very difficult to get a strong stretch effect in these muscles if you can't feel where they are, too. Now you are starting to feel them, which is excellent, and Olivia's long held hip flexor stretch is also extremely effective, especially for women.

In the advanced class that were used to run at the university, over a two year period all of the advanced students and teachers did this partner sequence, and all experienced a kind of liberation in their body as a result. Even if your hamstrings are super flexible, and lots of the advanced teachers had very loose hamstrings, the paradox is that the looseness in the hamstrings actually stops you getting a really good stretch in the hip flexors if you're using the deep lunge or the front splits as the main tool (the pelvis can rotate anteriorly to escape the stretch in the hip flexors). 

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  • 2 months later...

Oh, my last Posting seems to have been lost...

Anyway, I am back from "summer break" - this considers school, not stretching.

I guess I am back on track, pretty exhausted thoug. I think I have to check the iron level.

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@MaRo: We most definitely have not deleted anything, I assure you. If you can remember the content, please try again.

Odd things happen in the on-line world we live in now. And earlier versions of this software have eaten many of my posts in the past – what do I do now is (if I think there is anything strange happening), I will compose a post on TextEdit or some other text program, save it and then copy and paste here. That seems to be foolproof.

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Thanks and a I am sorry - I am convinced, the mistake was on my side. The saving of the last post took pretty long. So I guess I closed the window too early.

I teach an optional course in gymnastics at a local school  for 5th to 7th graders (beginners).This years course started yesterday.

In the first lesson I usually do some basic evaluation of flexiblity, strength and skills.
For beginners, it`s a nice skill level (all are able to do forward rolls, cartwheels, basic handstand against a wall etc.), have some movement awareness and basic core strength.

When we worked on flexiblity - which isn't bad either - I discovered that I really had made progress. The position of my hips sitting in straddle position is not as much rolled backward as it was once (and as the girls') and I can open the shoulders and hip flexor more. I can lean a bit forwards towards pancake. That's good!

The sore spot inside my thighs nearly disappeard, luckily.

New problem: I really do feel the base joint of my big toe and am afraid that it might be some beginning arthrosis...

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There's a long relevant thread here on pronation (the most likely cause of pain in the big toe joint):

 

Make a cup of tea, and start reading! :)

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Oh thanks, I'll read this tonight! I already suspected pronation to be responsible for the problem: I think the "turnout" exercices I do also support a better (non-pronated) position of my feet. And I have to blame myself that I neglected these exercices a bit during the summer weeks. And the pain on the toe joint got worse...

I generally try to walk barefoot at home (and in the gym and in the garden etc), but for running, I use running shoes with some support as I get the feeling that it does no good to my foot joints when I have to run on hard surface with light shoes. I try to avoid hard surfaces, but it's not always possible in my usual running ( about 2x/week on workdays before breakfast)

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On 9/24/2021 at 12:53 AM, MaRo said:

for running, I use running shoes with some support as I get the feeling that it does no good to my foot joints when I have to run on hard surface with light shoes.

There is a company called "Birthday Shoes" that promotes minimalist footwear, including the Vibram Five Fingers we recommend (and use ourselves). Their recommendation, assuming you bought a pair of Five Fingers today, is to put them in the cupboard, and only walk and run as much as you can in bare feet for the next month. Two months would be better!

I think this is truly excellent advice – because you will find, of course, that you will be able to do a short fast run (you will be up on the balls of your feet), and then you'll feel like walking, because the body is not conditioned for this, yet. The point is that if you want to go over to minimalist footwear or go barefoot, you will be gently forced to completely change your running style from what it is when you wear shoes (which insulate you from the environment, as you noted). When you can run properly barefoot, your knees will never be straight; you will never land on your heels; and everything will be much springier than when you run in running shoes. Caution here – it took me about five years to make the transition from running shoes to 5 fingers, and another five years roughly before the transition to bear feet was complete. I am a lot older than you, though.

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I heard this a lot and to be honest, I am not totally convinced - for my case.

Im am barefoot oder in "barefoot shoes" ("Sockenschuhe" and Vivobarefoots ) pretty much of the day, at home and in my everyday life.
In the gym (with the gymnasts), working with a physio, I learned running barefoot in a reasonable way which works there on a good floor.

I do wear "bad" footwear in the stable, while skiing and climbing.

I really got used to this and I don't have problems with the ligaments in my feet anymore.

But when it comes to running, I only run barefoot (or in "barefoot shoes") when the ground is elastic or soft.
I am not a runner, I don`t really like running. I just do it about twice a week as an easy basic stamina training and because it gives me a good feeling for the day. We run before breakfast, so it really has to be just out of the door - and there there is tarmac and the parc with compressed paths. And there- no barefoot running for me. It causes pain. It just doesn't work.
It might be that a good barefoot running coach could help me develop a working movement pattern for running as well. But honestly, I am not really game for doing it. I just don't like running enough. Its just about 90min/week - I think, it is better to be barefoot most of the rest of the time.

When I am in the mountains, I run with very light shoes with thin soles, uphill and downhill - no problem.

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2 hours ago, MaRo said:

I heard this a lot and to be honest, I am not totally convinced - for my case.

When you say, "this", which 'this' are you referring to (we have been discussing quite a few things here!). 

Any case, I completely understand if you don't want to put any additional energy into learning how to run barefoot – you are barefoot most of the time so it's all good.

One tip I could offer you that might be worth trying, though, is when you are running barefoot, move in a way that means you are completely silent when moving on the tarmac you talk about. If you can do this, most likely there will be no pain—but if my experience is anything to go by it will take quite a long time for the body to condition itself to doing this, because moving silently is a completely different moving pattern to what most people do when they run.

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With "this" I mean running barefoot or in minimal shoes (on tarmac or other hard ground).
Altough I am convinced that I don't want to do my running barefoot, I appreciate the goal. I think about doing my weekly outdoorfitness class in minimal shoes as a step in this direction.

The "silent running" is the most effective way we train barefoot running with the gymnasts. It is also key for the running up to the vault.
I see a lot of strange movement patterns in running and walking in my gymnasts and it is also one of my problems.

For me, it is important to make sure not to let the knees fall inwards while running and walking. It has actually changed since I do turnout exercices / cossack squats etc. It is mostly a question of awareness while walking and running.

In the beginning of this week, I felt a bit impatient again - with everything.
On tuesday, I did some contract -relax in the pancake position which got me some sore muscles (in a good way). Interestingly, my hip loosened up in "splits" (or "towards split") position on thursday. I hope it remains like this but am very careful, I don't want to force anything.

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On 9/22/2021 at 10:44 PM, Kit_L said:

There's a long relevant thread here on pronation (the most likely cause of pain in the big toe joint):

 

Make a cup of tea, and start reading! :)

 

BTW I started reading the thread about pronation days ago. And yes, the advice to make a cup of tea was well given! So much information! I am not further than the first page and took up some foot gymnastics. I use toespreaders already which cause some release. Thanks for the links, it provides material to do and things to think about for weeks and months!

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Today, I played around with the foot positioning as recommended in the pronation thread.

When I stand on my feet "neutral", I feel the weight on the whole ball of the foot (area behind toes) and on the toe. Not much on the toes, but evenly allotted. When I lift on the toes, it stays more or less evenly distributed.
I took a picture of my feet and they don't look pronated, as far as I can evaluate it (the tape is just because I stepped on a potshred in our apparatus storage room - it is just to protect the point on the sole where it bleeded). The toes look a bit cramped, though. I do have some problems with foot cramps.

fuss.jpg

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Today, I watched my running pattern carfully. As it is sunday, I ran alone and a different lap, including tarmac, forest, parc, uphill, downhill, flat.

I discovered that I use the toes on the right foot (the one with the problems in the base joint of the big toe) more. On the left foot, I tend more to heel- or middlefoot-running. I guess it is because I instinctivly feel that toe-running is better for the bad joint. So I tried to run more on the toes of both feet.
I have some problems with running downhill. Once I used to be "fluent" in downhill running (skiers train that a lot in summer on wobbly surfaces), but now, I don't dare to lean sufficiently forwards anymore and land on the heels. Very bad! I have to change that.
Running in the forest and country, I thought that I should give the barefoot/miniman shoe running another try (you see, Kit, your Influence works 😉 ). But back on the tarmac, it was clear that I don't want to.
So the plan for another weekend run would be to bike towards the hill and run there in minimal shoes. Unfortunately, I work the next weekends... I'll see.

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Your ankles look beautifully aligned in the image above. To know whether you pronate under load, though, just look at the skin on the inside of the big toe and the joint of the big toe and compare this to the outside of the foot – if it is calloused in the two places I mention and the outside is not, then more work is being done on the inside of your feet over time than the outside. Having said this, the ankles do look beautifully aligned.

Re. how you run: when running downhill, in particular. try exaggerating the bend in the knees, like Groucho Marx:

and try combining that with running as silently as possible—this is really hard on the quads (and why skiers do this I believe)! 

And there's absolutely no problem in running on tarmac or concrete in shoes, if that's more comfortable. All the things that I'm talking about are really about learning more about how you move personally – our walking gait and our running gait are such long-held habits, it is really hard to see and feel what is happening there unless you disturb the system a little in the ways that I'm suggesting. These are just a little personal experiments!

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Thanks for the extract - I'll try to run downhill like Groucho Marx 😁
I understand what you mean.

My big toes are calloused on the inside, in an area  of about 1cm. So there we are...

"Fun" story: I talked to a friend today who has the same problem with the base joint of the big toe. She went to an orthopedic who told her that theres nothing else than stop running... 🙄
She then went to a physiotherapist who now works on her movment pattern with her.
So why are we middle aged women told so often by doctors just to stop doing what we love to do just because it causes some problems whet getting a bit older? Shouldn't they encourage us to remain active and find to do our favourite sports in a healthy and enjoyable way?

Today I checked my "straddle" position. I gained some degrees since last summer whithout letting the knees fall in. Thanks mostly to cossack squats!

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1 hour ago, MaRo said:

So why are we middle aged women told so often by doctors just to stop doing what we love to do just because it causes some problems whet getting a bit older?

That is SUCH a good question, @MaRo. Over here we say it is because of the perspective that we label "CYA". From any specialist's or expert's position, it's easier to say no then to be creative enough to work around how the patient might actually do what she loves. "CYA" stands for "cover your arse" – in other words it's easier to say," stop the activity" then find a solution in case something goes wrong. As you can tell, here we don't believe in that at all.

When you do try the Groucho Marx way of walking/running the first time, bend the ease deeply, and move slowly so that you can feel what this new gait actually requires from the body. Very likely you will not be able to do any more than 10 m the first time. And don't forget – this is just an exercise for the experience and for the sensation. As well, make sure that everything is being done as quietly and as gracefully as possible. I think this will be interesting.

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