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Front Splits: Four Pulse Preps, taught by Olivia


Kit_L

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My obliques are sore today as well as my hamstrings. The leg across the body with the pulses is awesome! Really gets into that tight line.

@Liv That makes sense, I haven't performed C-R on my calves for awhile and when I did it was pretty light. Lately only long static holds and pulses. Yesterday and today I did the calf stretch with 1min-15s C-R x3 each side then the same with a bent knee finishing with a SLDP for 3 minutes a side and my calves were quite tired after. Will continue this everyday.

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I've gone through the series twice now, not counting the first time I familiarised myself with the exercises and it's something I can see myself routinely doing. Front splits aren't a particular goal of mine but I'm pretty tight in all four areas. My favourite so far is the piriformis pulsing, I think I have a lack of strength in this area (right side) and post C-R stretching i've always been left with a dull ache in the lower back, which is undoubtedly related to a tennis injury I incurred a few years back. Might be a bit early to tell and perhaps it's just a cumulative effect of having worked on this area for a while now but after the pulsing there twice I do have a bit of DOMs but the post stretching dull ache sensation has not been there.

 

This might be a stupid question(s) but I'm going to ask it anyway :D  do the internal obliques wrap around to the lower back area just above the gluteus maximus/ iliac crest? I've seen some conflicting diagrams where sometimes they do and others they don't. If so, Emmet is this the position where you feel your DOMs or is it happening more around your front? Either way that hip squaring motion might be my ticket to a pain free back.         

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Joshvogel: absolutely agree! Goal is to get Suu Kyi in every program.

 

isenriver: not a stupid question at all, Kit and I have been discussing the same point the past couple of days. I don't feel the effects on the front, rather at the back around the lumbar/sacral region. I think/feel that whatever there is trying to stabilise against the force of the pulsing is what's then experiencing DOMS. Whatever it is, I think it is extremely important – something is getting stronger as I get looser. I have more freedom of movement in all hip movements, and lower torso movements, than I've ever had – not talking here about range of movement, rather looseness/lack of sticking in movement.

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Great success!

 

I am including piriformis and outer hamstring pulses into my daily morning routine before front split work. Well, maybe not "pulses", I go hard ballistic-style. The intensity tends to suit my body well. The exercise has been a pain more intense than any stretching I have done before; definitely felt on the surface. But I am rewarded with that same DOM feeling I recognize working my way down in H2T. (Yesterday I found myself instinctively walking on my tippy-toes, so the hips wouldn't have to move and feel the DOMS!)

 

Edit: After further experimentation, I am responding better to slower, softer pulses.

 

I started this 4-5 days ago, and this morning I found the outer hamstring pulses much less intense, and actually had to cross the front leg over my middle-line for it to feel "therapeutic". For the front splits, 4-5 days ago, getting into the start position was painful in that hip area, and it would take 50 pulses (of 72) for the stretch to move from the greater trocanter to the meat of the hamstrings. However, this morning I was able to get into the start position without an issue, and the stretch moved from the hips to the hamstrings after 5-10r. By the end of the set, it felt like my left-side split had the range of my right-side! If this is actually true, that is a significant release. Regardless, the sensations felt are night-and-day after only a few days.

 

And then, doing elbow to opposite toe on this leg feels incredible. That ischial tuberosity area has always felt like one stiff block, but now I can actually feel all the different muscles running over that area as they mobilize and glide. At the moment it feels like rock breaking up, but I'm sure they will continue to soften over the next few days.

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so something interesting occurred to me when Liv took me through this program on Friday. We were doing the kneeling foot against the wall bent leg hamstring stretch and Liv was helping me square my hips properly.  When she finally got me around to square, I noticed my front knee floated out (externally rotated) just a little.  So I figured I would pull it back.  I internally rotated as best I could and it found all the junk that has been hiding in my hips. It actually turned it into a short adductor exercise for me, which I think is where my main restriction lies.

 

So anyways, I've been playing with internal external rotation now in everything I do and it really is doing some nice things. 

 

Three things you can keep an eye on:

- what is the pelvis doing? (squaring and unsquaring the pelvis, as in almost every exercise in this program)

- what is the knee doing? (internal or external rotation, i.e. trying to point the kneecap inwards or outwards)

- what is the foot doing (internal or external rotation of the foot, this kind of sweeping action, also you have inversion and eversion, and dorsiflexion and plantar flexion)

 

I've been going deep into stretches recently and then pulsing back and forward with each of these three segments, trying to notice where the tightest/junkiest line is in each, and then doing a final set where I pull each of them into the difficult position at the same time. 

 

Ill do a short vimeo video on it at some point to demonstrate!

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The two extraordinarily useful exercises for me are the bent-leg hamstring and the standing calf. I have been doing a very strong modified and standard front split exercise using a bolster since beginning the 90-day challenge and my HFs and piriformis muscle both are pretty flexible already, so the HF (along the bolster) and HF–piriformis ones were not so strong, but still useful.

 

The bent-leg hamstring movement is pure gold, as mentioned above, and loosening this line has had major effects on my pancake, pike AND side splits. And talking about SS for a moment, I invented a small exercise today that I will describe now and shoot later; there is nothing much to it, technically. One of my problems in parallel-feet standing legs apart exercises (including Pu Bu) is pain in the outside of the ankles and difficulty in keeping the feet flat. Improving this is the goal; here's the exercise:

 

Stand, and bend one ankle to the side, so only the outside... bugger it, as a non-touch typist, it will be a lot easier to shoot it. Stay tuned; I will come back to this later.

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what is the pelvis doing? (squaring and unsquaring the pelvis, as in almost every exercise in this program)

 

I've been going deep into stretches recently and then pulsing back and forward with each of these three segments

 

Love it!

 

Similarly, I am enjoying using hip squaring to pulse into a greater range. For example, with Liv's outer-HS foot-against-wall, I cross my leg over mid-line with terrible hip placement. This is a perfect start for my just-out-of-bed cold flexibility. As I pulse and create more space, I gradually square up my hips to increase the stretch.

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Question:

 

I am combining the bent-leg hamstring stretch with hamstring pulses to gain FS range. In other words, I pulse a few times... slide a little further... pulse a few... slide etc.

 

Once my split range gets to a certain point, when I contract my knee straight, I get a sharp pain sensation in the patellar ligament area (right on that bone protrusion below the kneecap). The pain goes away as soon as I exit the lunge, the hamstring stretch is still perfect, and I'm still gaining new range - but, it would sure be nice to not have that knee sensation.

 

Does anyone have any idea what this could be? Can it be rectified? Is it likely to settle with time?
 

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Can you take a snap with your finger pointing to the spot? IMHO, likely to be being pulled on by a lateral aspect of the biceps femoris tendon, IF it's where I think you are saying it is. What I have found is (and this is something Robert Schleip talked about at length in one of his workshops) that sometimes the strongest sensations are experienced in fascia that (from a standard anatomical perspective) is not being pulled upon (in a leverage sense) but is immediately adjacent to the part being worked. He claims this is part of a lateral force resolution strategy the body uses to distribute any fore as widely as possible through the structure. He stated that in some of their experiments, adjacent tissues can experience up to 140% of the actual load that the tissues we are working are experiencing. How this works from a physics perspective remains a mystery to me, but I do recall we spoke about it publicly. 

 

Now, even if this figure is not accurate, the fact is that direct experience tells us that when doing this sort of work, all sorts of odd (if keeping standard anatomy as one's 'map') are experienced. In the exercise you mention, there are a suite of sensations in my body from deep in the pelvic floor, tailbone, and lateral structures all the way down to the prominence on the tibial plateau—all in a "hamstring" stretch. So, WRT your question, I feel it is likely that it will settle in time.

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Thanks Kit.

 

Wow... loading of the adjacent tissues is fascinating!

 

The sensation is just here, the bony protrusion below the kneecap:

FS%20knee_zpsgauytyck.jpg

 

It's very medial and anterior to the bicep femoris tendon, but it could still be interacting.

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Kit - thanks for your reply too. I have a pulling sensation in another part of the upper calf near the knee when I pull the foot back hard (dorsiflex) when in a strong hamstring stretch, and one that doesnt correspond to any muscle line that I expect to be stressed by the move. Interesting that it could be fascia.

 

Jim.

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Wonderful! I did the sequence while on vacation in Florida! My fiancee even sort of joined me for a bit of it :-)

 

Regarding the ischial tuberosity / lateral hamstring tightness. I've found deep, targetted tissue work to be invaluable in this regard. Actually MANDATORY for me personally to get into my front / pancake / middle splits.

 

Kit / Olivia /others - give some of these exercises a try for the front splits if you get a chance! I'd love to hear what it does for you.

 

Rectus femoris / sartorius / gracilis / adductor zone of convergence / cluster-f*ck area (pardon my french:)

 

Ischial tuberosity / lateral hamstrings:

 

Love it! Keep up the great work!

 

-Shane

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Shane, this is convergence, my friend: we have been doing this kind of thing for a very long time now, and it's excellent.

 

Jon Valentine filmed a whole sequence a few years ago, but we never released it (it was not visually interesting to viewers who are not actually doing these things themselves; watching him roll around didn't get the crucial info. over, I felt). As well, Dave here and I have filmed a number of what we call "RollStretch" sequences, and we will do more on this in time.

 

I use an indoor hockey ball; they are incredibly hard. I let my whole weight relax onto it; I am sitting on our gym floor, and I use it as you are, on the distal side of the ischial tuberosity ("IT") on all hamstring attachments as well as on the ITs themselves, both longitudinally and across the leg. Then sitting in a figure 4 position, I let the ball do all the work on the external rotators and in between the ischial tuberosities; lots of interesting spots there.

 

I will give the Oly bar exercise a try too.

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Update for me. I no longer get any sensation in the hamstring stretch so I have taken it into a front split as a progression and I can feel things again.

Same with the piriformis stretch no stretch so I have taken it to the floor but even then I only feel anything when I put my chest down to my thigh.

Hip flexor stretch I feel in the hip crease of the rear leg. I was wondering though does this stretch psoas at all? I don't feel it there at all. Where my hip flexors fail on front split and anything else especially backbending is being able to stay upright and arch my back. I'm crazy mobile right now after my ballistic stretching everything is so loose except psoas its like its in lock down and I can't even even get a stretch in it.

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Thanks for this program!  I finally understand/feel the sensation of stretching in my outer hamstring.  What's been interesting for me is how unaware I was of that part of my hamstring.  It's like the sensation there was turned off and now it's back.

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To MattPark re. psoas, we'll be filming part two of this series which contains a different HF stretch which does target psoas. Plus, progresses to straight-kneed versions for the front leg, in particular the outer hamstring line. 

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Kit - convergence indeed! I figured you'd probably experimented with almost everything under the sun having been immersed in this world for a long time! (Notice how nicely I just called Kit "old"? :P

 

JK! But I am curious to see how it goes for you.

 

Side-note: I'm day-dreaming about how I can get out to visit ya'll in Australia for a week or more and mess around with all these things! I think it would be great fun!

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  • 2 months later...

I've done the outer hamstring stretch a couple times in the past successfully, however just now I seem to have greatly upset the sciatic nerve (correct?) as I left the stretch with a completely numb leg and foot; I can't even bear weight on the leg. Perhaps I was doing it wrong, but I was going quite slow and pulsing maybe a cm or two, and was in the stretch for half a minute before I felt something was off. I suppose waiting is all I can do?

 

I've been hesitant every time I've attempted the stretch, and don't see myself eager to return to it when the numbness subsides. Keep in mind I am quite a beginner when it comes to stretching, and hamstrings may be my weakest link, but can you point me in the direction of alternative hamstring stretches? (I do own all the Master programs, with the exception of Pike... I'd imagine that has all the hamstring stretches :lol:)

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Hi there Zenwoof

 

It sounds like you overdid it. It may be that you've irritated the sciatic nerve and that is producing the numbness. It will calm down and the numbness will disappear, I'm sure. I did something similar in the advanced piriformis stretch last week, but it has completely resolved – this can happen to anyone, experienced and beginner stretchers alike.

 

Being hesitant as you approach an exercise can contribute to you resisting the stretch, rather than relaxing into it. Going slowly – as you write you did – is an excellent approach, so keep doing that.

 

As for alternative hamstring stretches, there are a bunch in the Pike series – best start point is the 'elephant walk', IMO. There is one on YouTube – see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrF2iMnn09w.

 

Something else to bear in mind about the outer hamstrings is that in most people this is by far the tightest part of the hamstring group. If, as you write, hamstrings are your weakest link  – by which I presume you mean your tightest part – then first work on exercises that don't emphasise the outer hamstrings: use these to loosed up the hamstrings generally, and then progress to the tightest line. This is the soft approach!

 

Final comment is to make sure you do some work in the piriformis exercises, as there's a direct relationship between that muscle in the hip and the sciatic nerve. For example, 

 

 

and 

 

Edited by Kit_L
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Cheers Olivia - you've nailed it with the soft approach. When confronting my tight hamstrings, it's as if I've been presented with a big block of stone, and using this stretch is like first reaching for the fingernail chisel to etch out fine details in the face, having not sculpted at least a base structure first. I really, really like the suggestion of working on the piriformis. While I already do (it is part of the daily five after all), I never thought to "warm-up" by first stretching the piriformis... but doing so puts my legs and hammies in a much better mood to be worked on.

 

Also, nice to know we've all had that "great, now I'm going to be numb for a few days" feeling when coming out of a stretch, for whatever reason. Still a shitty feeling though

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