dust

Stretching for mobility, flexibility, wellbeing

105 posts in this topic

Is switching between languages a form of 'stretching' the tongue ?   :P

 

I've always admired folks who can talk multiple languages but my tongue won't stretch so much.

 

Being involved in sports all my love, as participant and coach, I think stretching is actually good for the masses as well... but I admit I'm a little more on the inflexible side.   I can't even sit Indian style correctly and when young just wrote it off as 'uncomfortable'... wasn't till about 30 years later I found out that my hip is slightly tilted and so won't allow one of my legs to stretch and lay in an expected fashion.  That also explains why in boot camp when I suffered through sitting Indian style, my legs would go numb and I'd crawl around to the enjoyment of others  :D

 

That being said, I have found what a few mentioned.   My diet seems to affect not just my weight but flexibility.   Resistance stretching is great, particularly for the butterfly stretch of the groin muscles.  Have a partner push downward (lightly and build up) as you 'resist' their push.... then get them to release that forward pressure slowly so you can release your resistance and then they continue to push downward again.   If done even 3-5 times, you'll find a huge jump in the stretch.

 

Both of my kids did gymnastics when young, although they didn't stay with it, the importance and understanding of stretching did through their other sport participation.  

 

I was shown a 'frog' stretch which seems really good for my uneven hips.  Lay stomach down on the floor or yoga mat while your knees are tucked upward (and to the outside) and your feet should come as close to together as possible. Those already stretched enough in this will find their feet can touch.  Just let gravity work on stretching it out.

 

I will say that stretching is really important in terms of the right stretch for certain issues.    My second cousin had a hip replacement and he was a serious athlete too.   But it was clear to me (and my wife) the stretches he employs are not as useful as they focus too much on the hamstrings.   The front and sides should be balanced with stretching too.

 

Great thread... thanks for making me confess all my inflexibility but enjoy sharing some thoughts :)  

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Thanks. I have been appreciating the exchange between Taomeow and dwai (however over my head) but it's nice to have some more simple stretching advice!

 

The partner-aided stretch confirms again that I would benefit from a partner to help with such sinew / PNF / whatever-one-wants-to-call-it stretching. Hmm..

 

I'll post a couple of my favourite stretches / mobility routines later on (try to fill in some 'gaps' from all the good advice offered so far)

Edited by dustybeijing
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@Dawei, curious what you have noticed about diet's effect on flexibility...

 

@dustybeijing, you might check out The Genius of Flexibility. Bob Cooley is the resistance stretching "guru", and it's a little twist on PNF, but a twist that makes a tremendous difference. I don't go so much for his "psychology of the meridians" rap, but the basic technique is tremendously helpful, and once you get the pattern, you can apply it to any muscle or tightness... and mostly without a partner.

 

Here's a link: https://www.thegeniusofflexibility.com/resistance-stretching/rfst.html

 

"Myth: Muscles become more flexible by simply stretching them. If this were true than everyone would be more flexible — but they are not.

Reality: You must CONTRACT a muscle continuously while lengthening it to produce immediate increases in flexibility. Muscles do not stretch the way most everyone in the world now thinks they do!"

 

And not mentioned there, if you then also continue against resistance while you are shortening the muscle, it will gain strength along with flexibility. Truly is genius. Interesting as a therapist to notice how much shaking can happen when people first try to get the hang of this, even conditioned athletes, although a few do catch on right away.

 

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Thanks cheya. The thing I like about that is the simple way he's explained it. To the point. I've read about PNF, PAILs/RAILs, and other similar techniques, but they all make it seem very complicated.

 

If this is really all one needs to know -- simultaneous contraction and lengthening -- it makes things a lot easier. It's close to the sinew / resistance stretching we both mentioned earlier in the thread (page 2).

 

I suppose this might explain why ballistic stretching / light pulsing against a load seems to have been working for me. PNF uses isotonic loading with a partner, PAILs uses isometric loading by oneself, LPS (loaded progressive stretching) uses isometric resistance against a load, RFST uses continuous isotonic loading either by oneself or with a partner, and the pulsing I've been working with uses isotonic loading in small bursts. And I guess the stretching that occurs as a result of good Taiji practice is similarly based on working against resistance into a lengthened position.

Edited by dustybeijing
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The taiji way to push against resistance when doing a solo form is to do it in a vat of honey.  This way you also stretch your mind. :)  The honey is imaginary, but you move, for purposes of this exercise, keeping in mind at all times that you are in a sticky, resistant medium.  Hard to push into, hard to pull out of, every single move is against resistance.  The honey can be almost runny or almost crystallized solid, depending on how difficult you want to make it.  The thicker, more difficult honey slows down your movement to a greater extent, and this kind of training is partially the reason for doing the forms slowly (not the only one of course).  Add to this "sitting" in that vat of honey rather than standing, i.e. a low stance, and you will stretch the hell out of your lower body while gaining stability of all the elongated parts.  When you face real-life resistance in the form of a push-hands opponent, he or she will merely be more of the same, just a sticky, resistant something-to-overcome.  :)  My teacher calls the exercise "honey bear," because you are supposed to push against this imaginary honey with the strength of a powerful bear.  

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@Dawei, curious what you have noticed about diet's effect on flexibility...

 

This is my reality and experience but I just feel less internal resistance with a lower weight... and less meat... could be partly age too, as an athlete we seem to want certain foods and meat protein used to be quite important to my body but now seafood protein seems to really drive me more... BTW, my blood type is "O" in case anyone is wondering.

 

Thanks cheya. The thing I like about that is the simple way he's explained it. To the point. I've read about PNF, PAILs/RAILs, and other similar techniques, but they all make it seem very complicated.

 

If this is really all one needs to know -- simultaneous contraction and lengthening -- it makes things a lot easier. It's close to the sinew / resistance stretching we both mentioned earlier in the thread (page 2).

 

I didn't mention that I sometimes do the 'frog' stretch with a partner pushing down from the back, with some hip resistance from myself, etc...   So I think resistance stretching is much more useful than most realize.   I saw it in my kids gymnastics quite a bit.  How do you think they can 'force' a child into the splits ?  It doesn't really come natural except out of the womb :)

 

The taiji way to push against resistance when doing a solo form is to do it in a vat of honey.  This way you also stretch your mind. :)  The honey is imaginary, but you move, for purposes of this exercise, keeping in mind at all times that you are in a sticky, resistant medium.  Hard to push into, hard to pull out of, every single move is against resistance.    

 

Sounds like Tai Ji Ball too... the feeling is really quite the 'push-pull' with resistance in both direction... maybe this is what the push-me--pull-you would say :D  but Dwai started a thread on that :)

 

In some cases (depending on the language) it can be stretching and convolution of the tongue

 

:)

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Let me add my absolute favorite stretching routine. 

 

I sleep on a hard surface. 

 

That's all, folks.  Several years ago, when I discovered the miracle, it only took me a couple of days to adjust, and I feel I've been reaping the benefits ever since.  I used to wake up stiff and achy as though sleeping is hard debilitating physical work, and everybody past their teenage years, twenties, thirties tops, would cite the same pattern.  It just didn't make sense.  Well, on a soft surface it was indeed hard work.  Your body can never stretch out and relax properly if your back is sagging, your neck is cutting off circulation from your head, and parts of your body press on other parts of your body with their whole weight in search of support.  The hard bed is like a stretching routine engaged in all through the night.  Your all joints open and your all muscles truly relax and your bones gain the breathing space they need. 

 

Think developmental history.  There's no memory foam in my genetic memory.  There's no metal springs, no down toppers.  There's two memories the body has of how to relax and recharge during sleep.  A more recent one -- of the way we slept for some 400,000 years --  on a hard surface lined with maybe a pelt.  And an earlier one, of the time we brachiated and made our beds in the trees the way chimps make them, weaving together branches into a rocking wraparound for the body, with the head and the legs sticking out, replicating the relaxed position of a baby in her mother's arms.  That's all.  The second version (which I've read a Japanese company started making and plans to launch commercially, a circular wraparound bed on eight legs for the gentle rocking effect, which sounds very inviting but will probably cost a fortune when/if it becomes available) is currently for chimps only, but the first one  I replicated to my body's great stretching satisfaction.  

 

I also use a hard neck pillow instead of a soft head pillow.  This was harder to adjust to than the bed, but I just don't want to either clench my jaws, develop a double chin, or get headaches.  Ever if I can help it and if gods don't deem any of that necessary for their own mysterious purposes.  So far it's no mystery, it's the pillow.   

Edited by Taomeow
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Thanks Taomeow! Sometimes we just need some validation of our own thoughts to start acting (sleeping) the right way. The hardest things to realize are the most evident, I guess. We are really living a crazy culture that makes it almost impossible to be and feel healthy.

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when I learned Taiji under a Taiwanese master, I can say he even changed my understanding of Qigong..   He taught us meridian stretches that should be in a book.

 

Too many are difficult to explain but one is really simple....

 

1. Look forward {drop all energy downward 100 feet from you}

2. As slow as you can, begin to raise your head upwards but focus on the chin as the extension.... point the chin to the heavens

3. keep raising your chin as high as it will go... release it upward from your body....

4. At the moment of not feeling your chin anymore, bring it down... as slow...  slower than a sloth... till it touches the chest and yet it disappears into the ground...

 

repeat again and again. 

 

The main point is actually to realize what do you feel in your chakras between 1-5...   that is where the magic occurs :)

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When you say hard surface, do you mean a Japnese style futon, and makura, or just on the floor?

 

When I go and visit the in laws in Japan I always sleep better on the futon and wake up with better posture. Do you sleep on your side or back?

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When you say hard surface, do you mean a Japnese style futon, and makura, or just on the floor?

 

When I go and visit the in laws in Japan I always sleep better on the futon and wake up with better posture. Do you sleep on your side or back?

 

Not the floor, since I also follow certain classical feng shui rules and it's considered bad juju to sleep on the floor, subconsciously you won't feel safe and won't relax completely.  A Japanese style hard futon is good, or a mattress of coconut fibers on a platform bed, in general no springs, no slats, a platform type foundation with either a hard topper or a thin soft one that does not sag.  I bought a plywood board to put on top of the futon slats and a thin topper on top, resulting in a bed that you can't plump onto without hurting your butt, or throw yourself onto without bumping your head.  It was experimental, I thought maybe I'd buy a Japanese or coconut version if the prototype works well, but it proved to work so well that I don't plan to replace it.  

 

Sleeping on your back is the best of course, but I am not a back sleeper, although the neck pillow might eventually help reprogram for that.  Not yet.  The pillow is a "sausage" stuffed with buckwheat, which I tied all over with a ribbon for structural integrity, it does not sag or give.  A tightly rolled towel can be used to create the same effect.  I also have a traditional Chinese neck pillow which is wooden, but it's not the right height for me (too high), I might be on a lookout for one that is, since this is the only thing that occasionally facilitates sleeping on my back, but would need to be adjusted for height to be perfect.

 

I also use that buckwheat thing for a Japanese stretch that works amazingly well.  Here's the instructions.  It's in Japanese but everything is shown so it is pretty clear what to do.  The pillow has to be positioned exactly at the level of the bellybutton.  

 

 
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back sleep is where I sleep best an deepest, also where the breathing is best (and if in good condition, the habit energy of the fine tuned breathwork shines through sleep, its almost like not having stopped the evening session)

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Thank you for that, TM. I have used a stretch very like that to improve people's posture, because it lifts the chest and opens the front of the shoulders, counteracting slumped postures from desk and computer work. It's very effective. This version has some interesting hand and foot tweaks, which I look forward to trying. 

 

The same method is explained in English (by a robot! :D ) on another youtube vid on this posture/exercise, and this one says you can lose weight! It has a few more helpful details than I understood from the Japanese. 

 

 

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when I learned Taiji under a Taiwanese master, I can say he even changed my understanding of Qigong.. He taught us meridian stretches that should be in a book.

 

Too many are difficult to explain but one is really simple....

 

1. Look forward {drop all energy downward 100 feet from you}

2. As slow as you can, begin to raise your head upwards but focus on the chin as the extension.... point the chin to the heavens

3. keep raising your chin as high as it will go... release it upward from your body....

4. At the moment of not feeling your chin anymore, bring it down... as slow... slower than a sloth... till it touches the chest and yet it disappears into the ground...

 

repeat again and again.

 

The main point is actually to realize what do you feel in your chakras between 1-5... that is where the magic occurs :)

We do similar drills with taiji practice. Stand in ward off. Sink into the ground with your mind as far as it can go. Then reverse and send mind up from crown point as far as it will go. This will make you physically sink (vertically down). Then again send the mind down through the feet. This will make you float.

 

It's a very interesting feeling and develops both suspension and root. Also shows how we can sink or float energetically...(not a physical but an energetic stretch nonetheless)

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Thanks for the robot version, Cheya!  :)  I had the original instructions in Russian, but figured the Japanese version is where it comes from. 

 

Yes, it was posted as a weight loss method!  The idea was that when your spine adjusts into its proprietary J shape (instead of the deformed S shape you find in Western anatomy books), the pelvis adjusts too, and the room opens up for the stomach to get "sucked in" naturally, instead of bulging out the way it does in so many people.  In some it definitely bulges out because misaligned pelvic structures sort of push it out.  So it's not so much about loss as redistribution of weight, the stomach gets flatter, is all.  However, I've noticed that prolonged and intense stretches (and this one can be made intense if the roll is thicker and if you stay like that longer) jump-start deeper breathing, perhaps increase metabolism too, so maybe there's other weight loss effects from doing them too. 

This one is great for working out any "kinks" from the lower back, e.g. from sitting too long in front of the computer. 

 

Which brings me to the next point.  The kidneys don't work well in the sitting position.  Chairs are not part of how we evolved.  The filtering system is not designed to go on a bend.  You have to either be standing or lying down or squatting for the kidneys to work properly.  When you're sitting, the don't.  That's one reason any good taoist cultivation routine always combines sitting meditations, however prolonged, with some type of qigong engaged in for at least an equal amount of time. 

Edited by Taomeow
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The idea was that when your spine adjusts into its proprietary J shape (instead of the deformed S shape you find in Western anatomy books)

 

Well... I have to ask..

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Makes sense. I was picturing a more literal J, straight down with a big hook, which would've been a bit... frightening.
 
I don't know about letter shapes, but my idea of good posture has been informed by 2 things, probably working towards the J more than the S now that I think of it:
 
(1) 顶头悬 dingtouxuan, which I was taught as imagining a hook at the top-back of my head (between the parietal bones) pulling me upright (learned in Tai Chi years ago)

and
 
(2) working towards maintaining an invisible line between my head, shoulders/upper back, and pelvis/top of bum (so that one could place a stick on the back and it would touch all 3)

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drum stool for work makes it easy to make it a halfass horse stance a bunch of times a day :lol:

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that's in accordance with what i'm taught.

 

One of the reasons of this faulty alignment is the feet pointing to the outside, when you teach yourself to walk with your feet straight forward, it also changes the position of the pelvis etc.

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drum stool for work makes it easy to make it a halfass horse stance a bunch of times a day :lol:

 

for elderly ladies this one works nicely too

 

varier-multi-stoelen-met-kniesteunen-ink

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I had one of those as my office chair for some time. Gave me terrible knee pain

Edited by Vajra Fist

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Great article! B)

 

I think the curvier, Westernized 'S' spine is due to prolapse and collapse.  Collapsed foot arches and a collapsed spine, etc.  Like the inevitable collapse of anti-Natural Westernized civilization, lol...  :lol:

 

Whereas similar to what Esther Gokhale sought by observing native, non-Westernized peoples - the ancient Daoists observed babies and their more natural traits/behavior.

back-pain-promo2_custom-f0b45c9971709faf

Babies and natural athletes tend to have high foot arches, prominent glutes, and straighter backs - like her pictures shown above.

Size_guide_curled.jpg

Whereas the modernized Westerner tends to have a curvier spine and flat feet & azz, lol!

Edited by gendao
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