/ Leg/hip flexibility

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Mr Fuller on 29 Dec 2012
My flexibility in my hips and hamstrings is just embarrassing. I'm some way off being able to touch my toes, can't sit cross-legged, and as for high-steps... forget it. It definitely affects my ability to climb some routes (usually slabs outdoors or when indoor bouldering) and I have to pull way harder than someone who can 'frog' or bridge better than me. I've already improved a fair bit, but want some motivation because I find stretching so boring... so, give me some inspiring stories of success/improvement. I watched Cirque de Soleil recently... is it possible for someone with dire flexibility, age 25, to do the splits one day? Is little and often the best way with stretching?
sianabanana - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Mr Fuller:

I have been doing some aerial acrobatics for the past year. A climbing friend put me on to it and its pretty fun. My teacher is amazing and super bendy. Half of your class is warming up and cooling down / stretching.

My flexibility wasn't as bad as yours when i started, but I couldn't do the splits - I was no where near.

I now do this warmup and cool down stretching before I climb too, and maybe another time on the weekend. So im doing this about 3 times a week.

I now have my front splits on one side ( I injured my hamstring/glutes which stops me getting the other side quite yet, but thats getting better and better each time).

When warming up, my splits are very nearly there, but is much easier and more comfortable after I have been training for an hour or so and are really warm.

So, I wont ever be good enough to join Cirque de Soleil but stretching definitely works, and can be addictive once you get in to it and see the benefit.

I know my teacher uses many yoga/pilates techniques so a class in that may give you some inspiration?
Scott_vzr on 29 Dec 2012
I have been doing basic lower back and hip flexibility YOGA, from a free App.

It helps after sitting to long at work.

Like this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00lB10oATck
Jack - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Mr Fuller: mobilitywod.com lots of great fixes for regaining full range of movement. Look back to the first post and take it from there.
dr_botnik - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Mr Fuller:

happened to have this http://www.beastmaker.co.uk/pages/neds-flexy-madness open in another tab, hope it helps
lost1977 - on 30 Dec 2012
In reply to Mr Fuller:

before you start stretching remember there may well be a reason for your lack of flexibility which needs to be addressed first
Mr Fuller on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to lost1977: what do you mean by that?

Cheers all, some really helpful answers.
Kimono - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to Mr Fuller:
certainly through the practice of yoga you will improve your flexibility to a greater or lesser extent...but will you be able to do the splits one day? Hmm, i would personally let go of that goal and just try to work from where you are at right now.
As someone posted above, there are no doubt reasons for your present state of flexibility, and a large reason will be the shape of your bones and positioning of the acetabulum on the pelvis....also the angle and length of the head of the femur. these are probably not going to change a great deal, no matter how hard you practice.

My experience as a yoga teacher is that some bodies are just naturally more flexible and that you can only improve flexibility up to a point.

Anyway, best of luck and if you do go for yoga, i would recommend starting with a type of yoga that stresses good alignment such as iyengar or anusara
Mr Fuller on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to kieran b: Thanks for that. I certainly feel that my flexibility has always been fairly crap, though I've never been sure whether it's due to running/cycling/hill walking a lot since I was young, and never really doing any stretching.

I certainly feel that I can improve significantly, though some stretches (eg. outside of hip) definitely seem to come up against massive resistance that feels like bone or similar, rather than muscle.

I'm going to bite the bullet and try yoga this year.
lost1977 - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:

most commonly sciatic nerve mobility and periformis spasm. the body will often limit mobility if nerve damage is thought to be possible
Mr Fuller on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977: Cheers. I googled that and it's something my power-lifting housemate has previously referred to. I don't generally have any pain, it's just a limitation on movement in hamstrings and in outside of hip. My housemate's given me a few good stretches for the sciatic nerve, though, and it definitely seems to help the whole area with mobility.
lost1977 - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:

in general neither problem will give pain and you won't notice a problem just lack of flexibility.
Ava Adore - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:

Yoga yoga yoga yoga.
lost1977 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Ava Adore:
> (In reply to Mr Fuller)
>
> Yoga yoga yoga yoga.

so long as there are no underlying issues
abh - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:

Hi, I too am generally inflexible, but found yoga, general stretching at home/ the gym(esp. Of hamstrings, calves, thighs, achiles) to do wonders. Having a desk- based job doesn't help but after a month or so I definitely felt better. Due to short term injury ( not stretching related) I had to give it up, and now I can feel all tight (and it feels a little 'uncomfortable') so can't wait get back into it again.

I would'nt worry about setting yourself targets such as the splits ( sounds painful), just increased flexibility in itself is good.

Cheers
Ava Adore - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977:

Surely that applies to every form of exercise?
lost1977 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Ava Adore:

difference is the 2 issues which i mentioned you would be unlikely to know you were suffering from (they are not injuries as such but biomechanics problems). stretching is more likely just going to result in more tightness
climber007 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller: have you tried yoga? I took it up around 18 months ago and found it very good. Time commitments has meant that I haven't pursued it as much as I'd like to but I should do it more often.

The gym I go to has classes on a regular basis. DVD's are a good way of practicing it too.
Ava Adore - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977:
> (In reply to Ava Adore)
>
> difference is the 2 issues which i mentioned you would be unlikely to know you were suffering from (they are not injuries as such but biomechanics problems). stretching is more likely just going to result in more tightness

Ah, gotcha. I clearly hadn't bothered to read the rest of the thread and therefore your previous post :-).
Si dH - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977:
So is there any way around this for the inflexible among us other than giving stretching a go and seeing if it works?
lost1977 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Si dH:

imovefreely is a good site which i have used in the past, it has lots of information and i think they still do a free trial which includes a basic biomechanics assessment

http://www.imovefreely.com/site/

if i can i might see if i can get a BM coach i know to register on ukc (she give a lot of advise on another forum i use for free)
Mr Fuller on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to all: I've bitten the bullet and have joined a yoga society at uni. This is going to be painful, but hopefully I will soon be able to touch my toes...

Cheers for the help.
mikehike on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:
To add to the above,
'Yoga as long as no underlying issues'

I think of it as a lifestyle thing.
ie dont try stretching like mad for a couple of weeks then give up or over stretch due to frustration. This can lead to injury.

Ive done yoga for years and climbed indoors a fair bit. I can't touch my toes though. Yoga teacher told me Lanky people who have slumpped in chairs like me tend to be that way. Quad stretch no problem but hamstrings tight as hell.

I was taught a technique for stretching as follows.
For Hamstrings sit on floor as you would legs out stretched. But instead of bending forward to touch your toes, you bend forward slightly so hamstring tightens a tiny bit, then you activate the hamstring muscle (contract it) ie you try to force your heel through the floor. Work the muscle. Then you can relax it, then stretch it. The theory behind this is when going for a stretch people tend to stretch straight to their limit the muscle then shortens itself to protect itself. By working the muscle first you a) warm it and b)trick it into not protecting itself.

If find this does work for me.
Im no expert though
lost1977 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to mikehike:

quite similar to a technique i use to release my periformis, you can also an opposing muscle to release a tight one
tom vellacott - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:

I've done a bit of yoga and found it amazing for flexibility and it also helps with injuries. It's also really relaxing and chills you out so not a chore. Bad flexibity will really hamper your climbing so i'd try to improve if i were you ....
Mr Fuller on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to mikehike: Thanks, yeah that style of stretching seems to really work for me too. I've been doing it with a towel over my foot and lying on the floor with a leg in the air.
mikehike on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:
Dont get hung up on not being able to touch yr toes, I cant, but I would class myself as fairly flexible.
More important for climbing is to be able to slowly and gently place your foot onto the back of your settee (groin height, no hands balanced on other leg ;-)
Mr Fuller on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to mikehike: Does it count if you use your hand to pull up your foot...? (my current tactic)
mikehike on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Mr Fuller:
That would be poor form;-)

But it all depends on your inner leg length and settee height.

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