Hamstring and Hip Flexibility
Post date: March 15th, 2018
Hamstring and Hip flexibility are a common concern for many people. Wether it be a dancer trying to achieve a front split or an everyday man/woman just wanting to have less tension in this area. We all deal with tightness from time to time.
These stretches are static stretches and meant to be held for at least 20-30s. The best time to perform these stretches is either after exercise or before bed.
1. Forward fold- Start with feet together and hinge at the waist. Keeping your spine long and as straight as possible. If you need more of a stretch or help with lengthening you can try using stall bars as shown in the picture.
2. Piriformis stretch- Start in a seated position and cross one leg over the other. Using your arms to support and raise the back.
3. Kneeling Hamstring Stretch- Start in kneeling position with one leg extended to the front. Slowly fold forward keeping the back long and straight.
4. Kneeling lunge with rotation and foot hold- Start in the kneeling lunge position(this may be far enough for you) Using the same arm as the back leg for support, reach back with opposite arm to grab back foot as you release into a deeper hip flexor stretch.
1 month to front splits!
Post date: November 15, 2017
Welcome, welcome! It has been quite some time since my last post and it feels so good to be back:))
If you are reading this, it is probably because you’d like to gain flexibility and be able to perform a front split with ease! There is no doubt that most of us do not enjoy stretching and even if we do, keeping track of our efforts is seemingly impossible. With this in mind, I have created a 1 month to front splits log so that you can keep track of your stretching and keep yourself accountable! If you would prefer to not use a log and just want to follow these stretches for fun that is fine too;)
Now lets talk about a few guidelines for the stretches below
1. Be sure your muscles are warm before starting. After a hot bath or after dance class is a great time to stretch.
2. You may use a block for any of these stretches to assist.
3. Hold each stretch for 1 minute before repeating on the other side.
4. This should not be painful. Discomfort is normal but actual pain is a sign you are pushing to far. Allow your muscles to ease into the position desired.
5. Be sure to take pictures of your splits on Day 1 so that you can track your progress! Looking for the log?? Simply email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the attachment!
Finding the balance of stretching and strengthening
Post date: April 25, 2017
Why is stretching and strengthening the appropriate muscles important!? Why are these actions important?
The answer is because of muscle imbalances. In order for our body to function with human movement efficiently we require a balance of muscle length and muscle strength around a joint. If these muscles are not balanced, then the associated joint is directly affected. Which in many cases is the cause of pain, such as lower back pain or knee pain.
For example, a muscle imbalance at the knee involving a “tight” biceps femoris will cause the knee to move inward(knee valgus) during an exercise such as a squat. This is due to the instability around this joint caused by muscle imbalances. Consequently, Knee Valgus can lead to a variety of knee issues if not addressed. When dealing with movement compensations such as Knee Valgus, there are always going to be multiple muscles involved. Thus the importance of using stretch and strengthening exercises simultaneously.
However, the most important aspect is to be sure you are targeting the appropriate muscles. For example, the biceps femoris is likely the “tight” and “overactive” muscle when it comes to knee valgus, but the VMO(vastus medialis oblique) is "lengthened” or “underactive.” In this scenario we would work on lengthening the overactive biceps femoris by using flexibility exercises while shortening the underactive VMO with strength exercises.
Knowing which muscles to stretch and which ones to strengthen can be quite confusing, this is why it is very important to get with a certified professional to get on a corrective exercise program to avoid future injuries.
With that being said, I hope this post helps you to understand the importance of utilizing both stretch and strength exercises. We hope to see you in our Stretch/Strength classes on Tuesday evenings! For more info on classes visit: theasdanceacademy.com under the adult class tab! As always, don’t forget to subscribe for future blog post!
SMR or "foam rolling"
post date: February 23rd, 2018
If you are looking for ways to increase your flexibility and joint range of motion you should definitely try the foam rolling technique. As a dancer we often use static stretching(30-60s holds in desire position), active stretching(activating one muscle to allow the other to relax and holding for 1-2s then repeating) and dynamic stretching(taking joints through full range of motion at a steady pace), but I have never seen a dancer use SMR.
I believe this is probably because of the lack of knowledge and know how in this practice. As of recently I have started to incorporate SMR with my own stretch routines as well as with my students who either have muscles imbalances or have a hard time with muscle extensibility. I have been amazed at the results and how quickly positive adaptations have been made. With that being said, lets dig into how exactly SMR is used and why. SMR is a proven inhibition technique that increases range of motion and muscle flexibility as well as improving muscle imbalances and altered joint mechanics.
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to foam rolling is that you should "roll fast to get your muscles ready for activity." Using SMR as an activation technique is not supported by scientific evidence and therefore is not suggested. Instead, you should roll desired muscle slowly until you find a spot of tension. Once the tender spot is found simply hold with no movement for 20-30 seconds before finding one or two more spots and repeating. You may feel the need to tighten the muscles surrounding the muscle being rolled, instead try to relax and allow the foam roller to work its magic. The timed hold is important because of the principal of autogenic inhibition.
Each of our skeletal muscles have two important mechanoreceptors involved with flexibility, muscle spindles and Golgi Tendon organs(GTO). When your muscle length changes as in stretching, the muscle spindles are stimulated causing the muscle to contract to protect them from stretching too far. When this contraction happens it creates tension and as the stretch is held more tension is created. This change in tension stimulates the GTO and causes the muscle to relax and elongate. This process is known as Autogenic Inhibition. If the stretch or tension is not held long enough to produce ample amounts of tension that will then stimulate the GTO, the muscle will remain in a contracted state until you are no longer in stretching position. Therefore not allowing joints to move into a greater range of motion with increased muscle length. This process can lead to permanent adaptations in the muscles and associated tissues if SMR is used correctly over time.
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