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Gymnastic Bodies and Stretch Therapy: Getting the Most Benefit

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Hello to everyone on the forum

After recently completing a Building the Gymnastic Body Seminar that included a Stretch Therapy module, i thought I would ask here how people think ST could best be used to benefit gymnastics.

Kit showed us a variety of great stretches and recommended 1 day of real stretching per week.

Just wondering what people would think would be appropriate stretches to choose and what order would be they should be done in.

I realise this would be fairly individual but hearing some ideas would be nice.

Currrently I would be looking to include the hip flexors, piriformis, behind the back shoulder stretch, bridge stretch, straddle pancake stretch and calve/hamstring work for my pike.

If anyone has any advice or experiences to share that would be more than appreciated.

Regards

Adrien Lalchere

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Hi Adrien

This reply is slightly tangential to your question, perhaps ... but still important to consider, I feel.

One focus for ST work with regard to your gymnastics training is working on the 'bits' that need more flexibility to achieve a particular position (so, pike, pancake, bridge, corrct alignment for handstands, etc.). Another focus that I think is important is ensuring that you don't end up with (maybe) too much flexibility in a few parts to the neglect of other parts; so, balance of function with regard ROM around all joints is an important focus, especially as you get older (I know you're only 23 now, but ...). One of the things I found at the end of my years doing gymnastics was that I had distinct patterns of flexibility around my body; that is, some parts very loose, others very tight. Specifically: loose in legs-apart movements, very tight outer hamstrings; super-tight calves and ankles; tight hip flexors; marked differences around the shoulder joint --- loose in flexion (including being very flexible in thoracic extension, indeed spinal extension generally) but relatively tight in the back of the shoulder joint; tight in thoracic rotation; and tight in lumbar flexion (very likely fascial restriction primarily).

I'd recommend you structure a program to ensure that you even out flexibility around all joints. I feel very fortunate that I got involved with ST in my early 20s and have worked on precisely this in the past 15+ years (as well as on maintaining strength) and now --- entering middle age --- I have no problems in my body, which is not true of many of those I did gymnastics with.

Cheers

Olivia

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Adrien, Craig and I are meeting on Saturday at the MG to discuss just this. The way I have decided to break out the MG/ST material for the Foundations is to look at the mobility elements in particular at all ME levels, and have the right ST exercise to overcome any limitations there.

So, I would be very grateful if you could look at the PEs and MEs before I repost here to see what obvious flexibility elements all the individual MEs require—then I can suggest solutions.

For example, HS requires the stick stretch, and the HF stretch. A decent pike requires spinal flexion (we have many of these; we demoed two); the Hammie Lunge, and the wall calf stretch. Glutes could be added. Fascial releases on the lumbar and thoracic spine as required.

I will really appreciate any help you can give me on this. Stay tuned!

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Thanks for the replies Olivia and Kit.

Olivia- I completely agree with avoiding imbalances. I will be working at this but time constraints might dictate having some elements pull ahead in the short term and then maintaining them while bringing the body back into balance.

Kit- No problem. Here are my very basic attempts at breaking up some body part/stretches per each of the elements.

Planche: Hip Flexors/ Hip Extension (both legs together and legs in straddle). Toe Point.

Front Lever: Spinal Extension/Bridge. Hip Flexors. Shoulder Flexion

Manna: Hip Flexion (legs straight in straddle or pike). Shoulder Extension. Spinal Flexion.

Handstands: Straddle Pancake/Pike for press work. Hip Flexors, Toe point, Wrists, OH shoulder/Lats for stacking

Push: Pecs, Tris, Scap retraction/protraction, anterior Delts

Pull: Lats, Bis, Posterior Delts, Scapular Depression Elevation.

Sqt work: Ankles, Feet, Quads (knee flexion), Glutes

Things missing: Spinal Rotation/Lateral Flexion, Hip Rotation and legs across midline stretches, Shoulder rotation, Neck work.

Hope this list was of some use. Can't wait to see the finish product.

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<snip>

Planche: Hip Flexors/ Hip Extension (both legs together and legs in straddle). Toe Point.

Front Lever: Spinal Extension/Bridge. Hip Flexors. Shoulder Flexion

Manna: Hip Flexion (legs straight in straddle or pike). Shoulder Extension. Spinal Flexion.

Handstands: Straddle Pancake/Pike for press work. Hip Flexors, Toe point, Wrists, OH shoulder/Lats for stacking

Push: Pecs, Tris, Scap retraction/protraction, anterior Delts

Pull: Lats, Bis, Posterior Delts, Scapular Depression Elevation.

Sqt work: Ankles, Feet, Quads (knee flexion), Glutes

Things missing: Spinal Rotation/Lateral Flexion, Hip Rotation and legs across midline stretches, Shoulder rotation, Neck work.

Hope this list was of some use. Can't wait to see the finish product.

Let me address these point by point.

Planche: Hip Flexors/ Hip Extension (both legs together and legs in straddle). Toe Point.

Agree. HFs (Hip Flexors) are already part of ST Foundation 1 (what Coach calls the first part of a four-part series to mirror the new GB seminar material arrangement). We have an excellent toe point improvement technique; I can make a YT video on this.

Front Lever: Spinal Extension/Bridge. Hip Flexors. Shoulder Flexion

We much prefer the transition to the full Bridge to go via the box Bridge (feet elevated; typically 300-400mm). I am talking to Coach about this. And Shoulder flexion is covered by the stick stretch. We will be sending out the full list of the relevant YT clips to workshop attendees as soon as I have finalised (uploaded) all the clips I shot last Saturday.

Manna: Hip Flexion (legs straight in straddle or pike). Shoulder Extension. Spinal Flexion

We covered the pike in detail on the ST module. We will be addressing the pancake in ST Foundations 2. Spinal flexion is covered with two forthcoming YT vids: Floor middle & Upper back, and Standing lower back. Both are ready to go (Floor middle & Upper back is uploading as we speak).

Handstands: Straddle Pancake/Pike for press work. Hip Flexors, Toe point, Wrists, OH shoulder/Lats for stacking

Pancake ST F2. Wrists already covered extensively here:

As for Lats, I uploaded the Stall Bar Lat Stretch last night:

More to come; have to go to the gym now; KL

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Hi Jade

Pancake is seated legs apart (side splits) with forward bend so chest/ribs/abs are on the floor! Maximum anterior pelvic tilt makes it quite strong!

Cheers

Olivia

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Hi to everyone, i'm new to this forum but i am one of the first person who is experimenting the new approach to GymBodies with Stretch Terapy pairing strength element with mobility elements and it works well.

Now i'm waiting the late 2013 to attend the Kit's workshop here in italy.

I've purchased the books and dvds so i'm anxious to start with them.

meanwhile i have simple question about gymnastic strength and stretching terapy. in your opionin there is a point where the body structure is an obstacle for the stretching goals? stupid example: achieve a great pike compression (expecially active) is possible for people with big legs muscles near the hips joints?

i'm glad to hear opinions by world experts of your level.

thanks for your time

Alessandro

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Alessandro, Welcome!

You asked:

Is there a point where the body structure is an obstacle for the stretching goals? stupid example: achieve a great pike compression (especially active) is possible for people with big legs muscles near the hips joints?

Realistically, no. I have pretty solid legs myself, and my pike is fine. The question is 'are your legs soft enough?' By this, I mean that if your quads and hip flexors are loose (and hence soft) enough, then when body parts come in contact, they "flow" out of the way.

For example, if I sit in full lotus pose, my quads are soft enough now for the whole ankle bone to be below the surface of the rest of the quads, up near the hip joint: in other words, the muscles simply flowed/moved out of the way, without pain. Same with sitting on the legs: if the hamstrings and calf muscles are tight, then the knees feel like they are being separated—but once you loosen these same muscles, they flow out of the way and the bottom can sit on the heels.

This is why we preach the virtues of "no unnecessary tension", and promote the virtues of s soft, relaxed body: such a body can move very quickly; does not use any more energy than required, and can be put into any required position. hth, kl

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Hello Alex,

Yes, definitely, and the ideas have been refined significantly in the wide contact we have had with some many other experts in the field. Think about a cat: there's the finest model of poise, power, precision, and relaxation, on the planet. We even sub-title our classes at the University, "How to get a body like a cat."

Best wishes, KL

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Continuing from my last post, above:

Sqt work: Ankles, Feet, Quads (knee flexion), Glutes

Things missing: Spinal Rotation/Lateral Flexion, Hip Rotation and legs across midline stretches, Shoulder rotation, Neck work.

Re. the Squat: please see HERE.

As well, some remarks HERE (a lengthy post in a reply to a question posted on Coach's site) will be relevant for some of you, and some of the HORSE STANCE information is relevant to understand the difficulties some have with the full squat in the broader context.

Re. Quadriceps: Please see a solo quadriceps stretch HERE, and a stronger partner version

.

And if you look through the rest of the YT channel, you will find a number of other clips that address the rest of the list.

I hope this helps, and please follow up with more questions. KL

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i've just started to work around the second lesson of the book.

My question regards the number of sets where is required a C-R approach. before your book i was following the template of 2-3 sets of a particular position but the sets weren't longer then 40-45 seconds. now i've noticed that one set takes to me about 2-3 minutes for complete relaxation. so the total time under relaxation/contraction is the same...(more or less). is necessary more sets of an exercise in C-R approach?

currently after my gymnastic/breakdance training i'm doing split exercises but i have to recognize that i cannot do some exercises of lesson 1 that are more more simple then split !!!!!!!!!!!! do you think i have to stop with current stretching and restart from zero? or i can continue with lesson + normal stretching that i'm doing?

thanks for your time

Alessandro

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i've just started to work around the second lesson of the book.

My question regards the number of sets where is required a C-R approach. before your book i was following the template of 2-3 sets of a particular position but the sets weren't longer then 40-45 seconds. now i've noticed that one set takes to me about 2-3 minutes for complete relaxation. so the total time under relaxation/contraction is the same...(more or less). is necessary more sets of an exercise in C-R approach?

Excellent question, Alessandro.

I am going to answer this from my perspective. For big exercises (like side splits, for example), then you need to find out what regime your body responds to best. We often practise front and side splits in the Advanced class here; for me, I need to do 5-7 strong, long contractions to get down as low as I can on that particular day. Sometimes I do a number of these in the one set; sometimes I will separate them (and do other things in between). The point here is that you will need to find what works best for your body, and the only way to find that out is to play with it.

As well, I have found best results come from really warming up/really turing the area first—with (again, this is just an example) Cossack squats. Earlier this week I did five sets of five reps on both legs, with a 6 Kg KB held to the front (my fascia is tight; this preparation makes me feel that the groin/adductors are really 'stretchy' by the time I start side splits.

(another thought; just added). As well there are some exercises that men need to use maximum contractions on; the splits (both directions) are two of these. By this, I mean that you will need to be strong enough to hold yourself off the ground by your leg muscles alone (using a finger or two for balance) and hold these contractions for up to 60", if you can. And when you relax and lower, keep a small amount of the contraction there; it decreases the discomfort, in my experience.

currently after my gymnastic/breakdance training i'm doing split exercises but i have to recognize that i cannot do some exercises of lesson 1 that are more more simple then split !!!!!!!!!!!! do you think i have to stop with current stretching and restart from zero? or i can continue with lesson + normal stretching that i'm doing?

thanks for your time

Alessandro

That's no problem at all, and we are all similar in that regard. One of the reasons Olivia and I have gone back to the very early PEs and MEs is that there are many of these we find hard (even though we can often do more difficult elements), and the main reason is we want awesome tendons and ligaments! In stretching, though, sometimes it is not necessary to master all the preparatory elements. Work at the level you are at, and be patient. hth, kl

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Re. the PEs and MEs for the SL: best to post that inquiry over at Coach's site, I feel—he is the originator, after all. Cheers, KL

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