My two young daughters want to start training with you. How do we take a class and what do I need to know?
Thank you for getting in touch with me. I actually work with quite a few young dancers, I have 1 8yo that trains everyday and some days twice.
My classes are 100% online. My technique involves:
Looking at how the body mechanics are affecting your daughters restrictions and other areas that may be impacted. For instance lower pack pain could be due to tight quads and weak glutei. So I would ensure that we target both of those issues in order to allow the student to get deeper in their progress and progress much faster than other trainers.
That is due to the fact that most flexibility teachers have no qualification, no formal training and are just repeating stretches they have learned of other teachers without any knowledge on body mechanics.
I on the other hand have had been trained in body mechanics and contraindications through my yoga teacher training and then I progressed into a health science degree which allows you to rehabilitate patients. That means I am just not looking at stretching the hip flexor to get flat I am looking at everything else that is not in harmony with the body.
The second reason that I get faster results compared to other instructors is that muscle limitation is not the only reason why you may not be progressing in your flexibility and you seem to plateau. You need to work on the connective tissue, facia and the nerves.
My classes are great for dancers because when you become extremely flexible it means that the muscles become weak. That means that you would struggle to lift into those higher extensions because you don’t have the strength.
My classes are directed for people who need to be strong in their flexibility. Such as dancers, gymnasts, trapeze artists and contortionists. In order to achieve this a different approach needs to be implemented that you don’t see or really know about unless you are training in the contortion industry. Contortionists not only need to be flexible they need to hold those awkward and amazing poses with the strength of their entire body.
The classes that I teach online are capped at 8 students. This is because I need to concentrate and see what everyone is doing and give them alignment cues and corrections for the poses we are holding. Some things as simple as a lunge I could bet that 98% of people don’t do it right and that’s why they don’t get results.
Here is a little article I wrote about the splits. If you take a minute to look over it you will see how much goes into correct technique so that you are sitting in your split correctly and not rolling out of challenging areas. When you are doing that in your practice once again you won’t progress you will plateau because you’re not changing the physiology of the areas of restriction.
Is contortion bad for your spine?
No contortion is not bad for your spine. In fact I used to suffer from herniated disks and pinched nerves. When you are training for back bends you are lifting and extending. That means that you are creating space between the vertebrae. The muscles in the back need to be incredibly strong in order to lift and extend the body to that degree. The core is a critical element because it is what helps you come in and out of your back bend. A lot of sufferers from lower back pain generally have a weak lower core and weak glutei. Both of these muscles need to be incredibly strong and are points of strength training for backbends.
Am I too old to start training contortion?
You are never too old to start contortion training. I currently teach online classes and I have a great deal of students that are in their 60’s.
Contortion will keep you strong and healthy as you age because a large portion of contortion is strength training.
With that being said, age is a factor that does naturally decrease ones flexibility although not to the extent that you can’t train and become more flexible.
Do contortionists feel pain?
Contortionists do not feel pain what so ever. Pain means you are pushing your body past its limits. Pain = Injury. Injury = Not being able to do the poses. I am an intermediate contortionist and a contortion teacher.
There is a lot of bad advice out there when it comes to contortion because many of the teachers have no qualifications and bad advice gets passed down.
If you ever have a contortionist or teacher telling you pain is part of the practice. Cease immediately and run for the hills. This is someone that is going to damage your body.
When I first started training chest stands my instructor told me that I wont be able to breathe once I get into the chest stand because my trachea will be compressed into the floor. So I would have to hold my breath.
This is a perfect example of idiotic and harmful advice.
The correct technique is as follows:
Push your shoulder heads down into the floor with the chin.
The neck should not be in contact with the floor, if so then push into the shoulders and chin into the floor and to try and elevate the neck creating a platform.
It is then and only then once that tripod platform is formed you can begin to raise the rest of the body up and away into your chest stand.
What should contortionists avoid doing?
When you are training in contortion the main thing you want to avoid is anything that is painful. You should never feel pain or crunching in the body. When it comes to stretching you want to be around a 6–8 intensity when it comes to the lower body as the muscles are larger and a 4–5 on the upper body as the muscles are smaller.
A good indicator that you are stretching too far is to notice if your face is grimacing, or are you holding your breath.
It is essential to understand how your body works, what the warning signs are and know when you are hitting your limitations.
What is the best way to get flexible?
Getting flexible the right way is more complicated than what people expect.
In order to get more flexible you need to address:
- Prehabilitation Exercises: To increase strength to support your increased range of motion.
- Nerve Flexibility: They are stretched very differently to muscles and if they are not targeted they will inhibit your range of motion.
- Muscle Pliability: Muscles do not lengthen thy become more pliable. By switching off the nervous system we can get deeper into the belly of the muscle.
- Breaking Through Fascia: Think the skin of a sausage, fascia is the skin the sausage is your muscle.
- Lengthening Connective Tissue: These are tendons and other tissues that connect the muscles into insertion points.
If you don’t strength train what you have stretched you are going to get weak in opposing areas, feel pain in the body from other muscles compensating and become less flexible in other areas.
My body is incredibly flexible. It holds me back with my dancing.
It sounds like you suffer from hyper mobility. The most important thing you need to do is to increase your muscle mass to support your flexibility.
When you keep stretching the areas that are hyper mobile you will continue to have less control over that area of the body. This is where things can dislocate.
Contortion training is perfect for you as well as active flexibility.
Why are some people more flexible than others?
There are so many possibilities to this question. Some people have thicker connective tissue than others which is harder to break through. Nerve restriction can inhibit flexibility. Ailments in the body can affect flexibility in the opposing muscle groups. Age plays a factor, joint structure, previous injuries and a big factor is what training method you are using. You need to make sure that you are applying the correct stretches for nerves, muscle and connective tissue. They are all stretched differently.
How do you know if you pulled/tore your hamstring? I was stretching and I was doing the splits and I heard cracking/popping noises from my thigh and it hurts to stretch and walk (I can walk but I limp a bit).
By the sounds of it you have strained your muscle. While a strain does not sound that serious it can put you back for months! I’m still nursing mine and its been over 6 months.
A tear in the hamstring requires surgery to repair the hamstring. This is followed by physical therapy and a long journey ahead.