You want flexibility? You’re gunna need strength and muscle awareness to get you there safely!
When we think about splits, we normally don’t think about which muscles need to be engaged and which relaxed, how the legs need to rotate or extend, or the amount of weight that is placed on wrists. We just think about pushing down further; but please don’t do this, as it can cause injuries.
The secret to flexibility is being able to control each individual muscle by itself and in groups, in neutral and flexible positions. Understanding exactly which muscles need to be relaxed and which engaged is the tricky part. But when you start drawing your attention towards your muscles, you’ll better understand which muscles do what.
It’s one thing to have splits on the ground with the help of a flat surface and body weight, but what about just using your muscles to lift, extend, or kick your legs into a split? For any stretch, without the help of gravity or outside force, you need serious strength and muscle control!
Flexibility isn’t just about stretching, it’s about building strength and muscle memory in new ranges of motion.
How do we build strength in new ranges of motion?
Get to know you’re muscles like they are your best friend!
- Focus on controlling your muscles while in a “comfortable” static stretch or neutral position, and while doing dynamic stretches.
- It’s about relaxing the muscles we’re stretching, and strengthening the supporting muscles that allow the muscle to relax.
- Focus on flexing/holding, extending, rotating, pulsating, and relaxing your muscles by themselves and in groups. Then try the same thing with variations, standing up, laying down, kneeling, in a split, in a bridge, etc. The more control you have over your muscles in all positions, the easier your current range of motion will become, and the more flexibility and strength gains you’ll have made.
- Never force yourself further into a stretch. Stay in a position that is “comfortable” and work on muscle control in the range of motion you already have. I say “comfortable” because stretching is a “hurt so good feeling” or an intense amount of good. If it’s a “hurts so bad” or sharp pain, take a step back and take the pressure off.
- The activities below are all in basic neutral positions and will help you use your mind on specific muscle groups, and better yet infused with deep synchronized breaths and balance.
- This interactive muscle guide is my favorite website for figuring out which muscle is which. Although I prefer speaking in basic muscle language, so everyone can understand me.
The top things to focus on while stretching.
More on breath, form and posture coming out in the next couple of weeks.
What to Work On
To have strength and flexibility in the air effortlessly, you’ll need to work on a few more details…..
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