Category Archives: Flexibility

30 Days to a Sassier Straddle – NEW and Improved!

Miss Hannah's gorgeous straddle!

Miss Hannah’s gorgeous straddle!

 

Hello Dear Danglers! You asked, I answered. Here is the NEW AND IMPROVED, very shiny, fancy, glittery 30 Days to a Better Straddle PDF! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura


Click here for all the stretchy, straddle-y goodness! 


 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Awesome Back Bending Resource!!!

Hello Dear Danglers! Just a quick post today. A friend on the F-books (thanks Autumn!!!) pointed out a GREAT video resource to help keep your spine healthy and bend-y. It’s only free until August 18, so jump on that!

Go to www.yogatoday.com, go to Sign Up, and create a free account. Each week, they have a free class! The one this week is “Compression-Free Back Bends”. There are also paid memberships if this is your thing. I love free (and I’ll bet you do too), so YAY!

 

Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

How To Get An Awesome Split Part 2: VIDEO

Hello Dear Danglers! Hope you enjoy watching this as much as I enjoyed making it. Be sure to watch to the end for the bloopers! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

 

 

PS – this video is aimed at folks working towards a 180 degree split. If you’ve hit that, go ahead and train further! Work on squaring the hips, or elevate the front leg a bit at a time to develop an oversplit. My students and Ihave gotten the best results by holding each stretch for 10 seconds, and going through the series at least once a day. Alternatively, hold the stretch longer, but vary the angle and position (“move” through the stretch) – this prevents too much strain on one area. Consistency counts – this won’t work if you only stretch once a week.  Remember – never stretch a cold muscle!!!!!! Peace out, yo.

 

If you liked this post, share it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days!

How to Get an Awesome Split Part 1 – Mistakes to Avoid Like the Plague

 

Is your split lookin’ a little triangular these days? Yup – there’s an app for that (you wish). Kick that sorry straddle to the curb – it’s splitsville, baby!

How NOT To Increase Your Split

  • Force it – Hey, if something won’t move, forcing it’s a great idea, right? Nope. Bad. It’s not a peanut butter jar, it’s your muscles! Don’t ever force a split – be where you are on any given day (whoa – that’s deep).
  • Hold it forever – Holding a stretch for an hour is great advice if you’re in 1985. The most recent research suggests holding a stretch no longer than 10 seconds, but doing it very consistently and varying the angle. If you’re sore after stretching, that’s a Big Red Flag that you’re actually injuring your muscles.
  • Tear your hamstring – I see this ALL THE TIME. Suzie AwesomeStudent decides she’s going to get her split This Weekend, so she spends an hour a day stretching it. By Monday, her muscles are sore, her hamstring lightly torn, and her splits worse than they were when she started. So what went wrong? The short answer is that hamstrings are prone to small tears (getting one is often referred to as “popping a hamstring”). Pop a hamstring and you’re looking at a minimum of 6 months of reduced flexibility – total bummer when you were trying to do the opposite. Also a bummer? That injury is going to heal with scar tissue which is less flexible. Boooooooooooo all the way around.
  • Stretch an injured hamstring – Try this. Break a plate in half. Glue the two halves together. Every 10 minutes, pull the plate apart and try to stick it back together. How’s that working out for you? If a muscle is injured, the LAST thing you want to do is stretch it. By all means, take it through its pain-free range of motion, but once you hit the injured bit, ya gotta stop. That totally goes against our nature, doesn’t it?

OK Miss Smartypants – How Would YOU Do It?

Tune in next week to find out! I’ll even be including VIDEO of my favorite series of “increase your split” stretches! WOOT! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

If you like this video, share it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days!

 

Working A Sassier Angle: Get A Better Straddle In 30 Days

 

 Is your straddle more sad than sassy? Do you celebrate every inch beyond 90 degrees? Take heart, Dear Danglers – help is on the way!

The Anatomy of a Straddle

 When I say “straddle”, I’m referring to the wildly indelicate position we adopt while inverting in the air, stretching our inner thighs, or falling down the stairs. It looks like this in the air…

 

Miss Hannah Risner's Aerial Straddle

 

… this while seated….

Miss Hannah's Floor Straddle

 

… and this while falling down the stairs.

 

Laura falling down the stairs. In a straddle.

 

Several factors go into whether your position is wow-worthy, namely:

  • The structure of your hip joint
  • The flexibility of the inner thigh muscles
  • The strength of the gluteal (tushie)muscles
  • How much padding you have in said area
  • How many times you’ve fallen down the stairs (kidding…. mostly)

 

How to Make It (More) Awesome

 

  1. Stretch your inner thigh muscles while seated in a straddle. Remember: only go to strong sensation, never to pain! Now, play with the position of your torso – take it forward, over one leg, over the other, etc. Play with flexing & pointing your feet. BE GENTLE – you want to be able to walk tomorrow.
  2. Strengthen your “straddle pulling” muscles. Lie on your back with your legs up a wall. Straddle, and engage the muscles of your tush & outer thigh to puuuuuuuuuuuull your straddle wider. Jump around to get rid of that muscle spasm you just gave yourself. Now, do it away from the wall (for you yoga types, you can also work this from a modified shoulder stand position).
  3. When conditioning in the air, squeeze those same muscles you just used & see if you can get some extra inches – strength matters almost as much as flexibility!

As usual, consistency counts. Take three minutes every day for the next 30 days to work your straddle, and you’ll be thirty days closer to sittin’ pretty like Miss Hannah up there. Happy straddling, peeps! Love and pull-ups , Laura

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, FB, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are posting things these days!

Many thanks to the beautiful and always sassy Miss Hannah Risner for posing for photos!

 

Photos: Laura Witwer

Sitting On Your Own Head: The Joys And Perils Of Increasing Flexibility

I am not a contort-y person. For the last twelve years or so, I’ve had a recurring dream in which I sit on my own head (a perfectly reasonable dream for a circus performer, I assure you); I kick up into a chin stand, bend my knees, and my feet just gently float down to the floor on either side of my head – I can actually FEEL my ankles in my hands! Well, my dreams is the only place I will ever do that,or someone will have to call an ambulance. Today, we’re going to chat about the bendy-flexies, and what you can do to increase the likelihood of a Gumby Moment. Join me, won’t you?

Mahself and the fabulous Angela Jones in a toe-to-the-head moment

 

Not Fitting Into Your Genes 

Alas, genetics are the greatest factor in determining the bulk of your flexibility. Some folks are like walking rubber bands, others have to chant, visualize, and sacrifice a virgin once a week to be able to touch their toes. What gives? Your genes, my friend! They affect:

  • thickness of spinal cartilage (the biggest determining factor in back flexibility)
  • the structure of your joints
  • length/tension/attachment of connective tissue

ALL of which play a huge role in whether you’ll be billed as Courteney the Contortionist or Rodney the Rigid.

Why Bother To Stretch If It’s All Genetics?

Because it’s NOT all genetics, Negative Nancy!  It’s a good thing to know where you are in the Great Pantheon of Stretch-iness, as it can help you keep your expectations realistic; you can’t change the thickness of your cartilage, but you can stretch your muscles. Here’s what I recommend:

  • work those muscles hard! And then streeeeeeeeeeeetch them out. Don’t stretch cold (put a rubber band in the freezer, then try to stretch it and you’ll see why). Save your deep stretching for AFTER your training.
  • NEVER stretch to pain – only to sensation. Why? Because if you tear the muscle, it creates scar tissue which is less flexible. And that sucks. Some days will be tighter than others – work with where your muscles are TODAY!
  • be consistent
  • be patient – it takes muscles and joints a very, very long time to truly become more flexible. Don’t get frustrated, it will just make you all mad and reckless and then you decide you’re going to do a split right this second and you do it and pop your hamstring and then you can’t do a split for the next 8 months. Be patient, Grasshopper.
  • generally speaking, slow, sustained stretching is best. Ballistic (bouncing) stretching has it’s place, but can result in significant tearing if you don’t know what you’re doing.

 Many of us in the circus world are reasonably flexible – we may not all  be able to sit on our own heads, but we can trot out a decent splits and get at least one toe to our noggin after morning coffee. Flexibility differs from joint to joint, day to day, even hour to hour. Remember: the goal is not to be able to trot out a cool trick at a party (that’s just a fringe benefit); your goal is to keep your muscles and joints healthy, and increase the possibilities in your work. With that in mind, work consciously, consistently, and  gently – you’ll be straddling your ponytail in no time (or at least be one inch closer). Happy bending, mah peeps!

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, FB, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are posting things these days!