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Author Topic: Back flexibility  (Read 3501 times)

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Offline Sierra

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Back flexibility
« on: October 03, 2010, 02:32:16 PM »
So I was trying layback positions to see how it looked. My low back was bent 90º with a very straight upper back, which made for a very ugly position. I tried lifting through my ribcage to round out my back, and I think I'm just not flexible enough.

I can't seem to find any good back stretches. Yoga things like camel position end up with the same 90º abrupt angle, which only makes my back sore. Backbends can't be held longer than 10 seconds- weak arms. I can do a backbend on a stability ball and push up slightly, but I feel no stretch. For Biellmanns I'm supposed to lean back in splits, but I don't have splits yet. I tried just leaning back in a mini-split but it was very hard to do so. It feels like my butt is getting in the way ???

I tried laying face down and using a band to pull up my leg and gently pull it higher in biell position, but this stresses my arms (as does any sort of biell position).

I can get my leg high in a regular catchfoot off-ice, and I can do the arm/back position without the leg up. I just can't put them together.

Any help?

Offline fsk8r

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 05:45:49 AM »
So I was trying layback positions to see how it looked. My low back was bent 90º with a very straight upper back, which made for a very ugly position. I tried lifting through my ribcage to round out my back, and I think I'm just not flexible enough.

I can't seem to find any good back stretches. Yoga things like camel position end up with the same 90º abrupt angle, which only makes my back sore. Backbends can't be held longer than 10 seconds- weak arms. I can do a backbend on a stability ball and push up slightly, but I feel no stretch. For Biellmanns I'm supposed to lean back in splits, but I don't have splits yet. I tried just leaning back in a mini-split but it was very hard to do so. It feels like my butt is getting in the way ???

I tried laying face down and using a band to pull up my leg and gently pull it higher in biell position, but this stresses my arms (as does any sort of biell position).

I can get my leg high in a regular catchfoot off-ice, and I can do the arm/back position without the leg up. I just can't put them together.

Any help?

The upper back has VERY limited flexibility in all directions. It's just not designed to bend. The rib cage is pretty solid. Trust me, I've had two years studying my upper back as I suffer from whiplash and struggle with any sort of movement in it (you try a 3 turn when you can't turn your back as the limited rotation in the upper back is what allows skating turns and to check them afterwards)

As far as I understand it (and I could be wrong) for a Bielman position a lot of the flexibility comes from the legs / hips, so what you say about being not able to do the splits would imply getting into a Bielman position is going to be difficult. I think I would focus on getting the catchfoot higher and hope that eventually you can get both hands on the blade. Then again, I've no desire to get into that sort of contorted position as I don't really want to add lower back problems on top of my upper back ones.

Offline rsk8d

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2010, 09:04:35 PM »
Fsk8r is correct in regards to upper spine flexibility.  Your mobility in that area comes from the spinal joints, not muscular flexibility, so there are no stretches to improve it.  You can try some self spinal mobilization on a foam roll to help the joint mobility, but you won't see huge gains.

You're spine is meant to do a biellman or it's not.  Do NOT try to force it to do something that it can't do naturally.  You can work on the flexibility of your psoas (hip flexor), adductors, and hamstring to help with hip mobility.
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Offline Sierra

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 08:02:12 AM »
I'm not forcing my spine into anything. I'm being careful ;)

I know upper back flexibility really isn't possible- when referring to lifting through ribcage I literally meant lifting ribcage, which I read on a layback help thread. One of the things I'm trying to figure out is why my lower back won't curve nicely and instead angles sharply. Shoulders can be arched, giving the appearance of flexibility through upper back.

My adductors are very flexible, don't know whether my hip flexors are flexible (but I do stretch them), and my hamstrings are.. getting there.

From observing my coach, it looks like she teaches most of her students a Biell spin. So I just want to be prepared, since it takes me a long time to gain flexibility ;D I'm pretty sure I haven't reached the limits of my flexibility yet.

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2010, 07:28:06 PM »
I agree with those who suggest working on your splits.  That is something just about anyone can eventually do with proper and consistent stretching, since it's just about stretching the muscles and does not involve your bones/joints.  The stretches that got me my forward splits (on both sides) in my 40's were these:

- Seated hamstring stretch:  http://blog.hhchiro.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/stretch-hamstring.jpg  Try to touch your belly to your upper thigh so you aren't rounding your back; don't try to touch your head to your knee.  Also, be sure to keep your non-stretching leg in the position shown--bent, with bottom of foot against the inner thigh of the stretching leg.  Hold for at least 30 seconds each time (use a stopwatch).  When you can hold your torso flat down on your thigh for 30 seconds so your face is below your knee, you have enough hamstring flexibility to do a split with that leg in front.  Always stretch your calves before doing this stretch.

- Hip flexor stretch: http://images.teamsugar.com/files/users/1/12981/33_2007/lunge.jpg  Also hold for at least 30 seconds.  When you can get your thighs in at least a straight line (preferably a little beyond that) and hold for 30 seconds, you have enough hip flexor flexibility for a split with that leg in back.  I prefer to do this stretch as a "half split" on a low bench with the back leg straight back on the bench and the front leg bent at a 90 degree angle with the foot on the floor.  This is the muscle that will need to stretch even more if you want to do a split with a lean back.

Offline kssk8fan

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2010, 10:46:53 PM »
work on your shoulder flexibility

Offline Sierra

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 06:14:17 PM »
Splits in your 40s! I'm impressed.

Yup, I do both those stretches. I should probably try to push the flexor one further, though.

Shoulder flexibility..?

Offline kssk8fan

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2010, 08:00:56 PM »
yes, shoulder flexibility.....sounds odd but it's usually the shoulders that give the most trouble when skaters are trying laybacks and beilmans or anything basically.   google shoulder flexibility exercises.  If you commit to doing them (any of them) you'll see marked difference in your laybacks! 


Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 02:15:31 PM »
Splits in your 40s! I'm impressed.

Yup, I do both those stretches. I should probably try to push the flexor one further, though.

Shoulder flexibility..?

Yes, as much as I felt the pull in my hamstrings, it turned out to be my hip flexors that were keeping me from getting down that final few inches on my splits.  See if you can get deeper on that stretch and even more importantly, just hold it longer.  I know you'll get it! :)

Offline sk8Joyful

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2010, 02:31:03 AM »
I agree with those who suggest working on your splits.  That is something just about anyone can eventually do with proper and consistent stretching, since it's just about stretching the muscles and does not involve your bones/joints.  The stretches that got me my forward splits (on both sides) in my 40's were these:
Seated hamstring stretch:  http://blog.hhchiro.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/stretch-hamstring.jpg  Try to touch your belly to your upper thigh so you aren't rounding your back; don't try to touch your head to your knee.  Also, be sure to keep your non-stretching leg in the position shown--bent, with bottom of foot against the inner thigh of the stretching leg.  Hold for at least 30 seconds each time (use a stopwatch).  When you can hold your torso flat down on your thigh for 30 seconds so your face is below your knee, you have enough hamstring flexibility to do a split with that leg in front.  Always stretch your calves before doing this stretch.
Most of the time I can still do this. Though I have not timed it, yet, also I'm not 40, next year I'm supposed to be 60 88) BUT a healthy-dose of Re-direct is in Order here, so let's just keep telling ourselves we are, Well, whatever age you wanna be ;D Personally, I tell my body daily: Hey gorgeous 23-year young kid, what shall we practice today, lol

ok, please tell me: How do we stretch our calves?

Hip flexor stretch: http://images.teamsugar.com/files/users/1/12981/33_2007/lunge.jpg  Also hold for at least 30 seconds.  When you can get your thighs in at least a straight line (preferably a little beyond that) and hold for 30 seconds, you have enough hip flexor flexibility for a split with that leg in back.  I prefer to do this stretch as a "half split" on a low bench with the back leg straight back on the bench and the front leg bent at a 90 degree angle with the foot on the floor.  This is the muscle that will need to stretch even more if you want to do a split with a lean back.
ok, this Lunging is also easy for me. - is the Advantage to doing it on a "low-bench", as opposed to doing it on the floor, or ice for that matter, the fact that the back-leg would then stretch further? - as into a Biellmann?? I am asking, as the Biellmann is one of my Skating-goals; and off-ice, presently in my skates I can hold my free-blade up to about Shoulder-height, on most days. On the ice, as yet a beginner-Skater, it's a whole other kettle of fish. - I've managed a few times holding my blade about 10-20 feet (very low), not daring to breathe, LOL

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2010, 01:55:04 AM »

Offline sk8Joyful

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2010, 04:03:36 AM »
This is a very good calf stretch:
http://frealfitness.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/calf-stretch-on-wall.jpg
ooh, Thanks! for showing me. - This is exactly what I forced my legs to do when cramping  :o, before I corrected my Mineral-deficiencies, which are history. - No more cramps, now that I replace all 14 Minerals daily. YEAH!! :laugh:

Offline Sierra

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2010, 11:14:24 PM »
My Biellmann on one side is actually kind of passable. Not ugly, not pretty, but okay. Looks kind of like an overextended catchfoot. The other side, foot is about level with head, but leg/arm are noticeably overly bent. I can get into a cross grab biellmann with right arm/left leg too. Not a good one but my elbow is pointing straight up, so I can extend fully into the position; I just need more flexibility to make it pretty.

But they really make my arms hurt. I try to lift my leg to ease the pressure on my arms but I still have achy arms all the time. Note that my arms are extremely weak (and I have no interest or motivation in strengthening them). I don't know if I should back off or just make my arms get used to it.

Splits have actually gone down a bit farther after completely stalling in progress for over a month. I was starting to skip stretching because it's really, really hard for me to force myself to stretch when I've stopped improving. Now my left leg splits are actually farther down than my right leg splits which is really weird because I can do a right leg heel stretch better than a left leg heel stretch.

I want to start stretching twice a day, but when I get up in the morning, my muscles are incredibly tense and scream in pain when I try to touch my toes. No amount of warm up makes it better. At night, which is when I usually stretch, they've relaxed and allow me to stretch them to maximal potential. I could just move the stretching to noon instead but I'd like to figure out why I can't stretch in the morning.

I'd also like to know where a hamstring stretch is supposed to be felt. I always feel it on the back of my knee. Aren't I supposed to feel it all along the back of my upper thigh, since that's where my hamstring is..?

Offline kssk8fan

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2010, 11:46:21 AM »
curious to know why you aren't interested or motivated in strengthening your arms?  You'll need a very strong upper body (arms included) in order to check your doubles and triples, and to maintain control throughout your more advanced combination jumps. 

Offline Sierra

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2010, 10:08:47 AM »
If I don't have clear, tangible motivation for strengthening, I can't force myself into it. Right now I have no problems checking doubles off-ice.

My arms have gotten a bit better since starting skating. Probably from holding them up while stroking & having to use them in planks for core strength.

Offline kssk8fan

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2010, 01:08:36 PM »
The stronger you become, in all areas, the better your skating will be.  The proper and necessary strength allows a skater to show more control in all aspects of their skating.  I see too many talented skaters that completely dismiss the importance of conditioning and it really shows up in their skating skills.  I suppose it's easy to dismiss the importance when you're just beginning because acquiring some skills don't necessarily require strength.  However, in order to really "master" those skills require a tremendous amount of strength.  Strength is also VERY deceiving.  Most people equate strength to huge, massive muscles and lifting weights.  Some of the  strongest athletes are ballet dancers.  Just try to lift your leg in front of you higher than hip level and hold it for three minutes without it lowering at all.  That's the necessary strength I'm talking about.  Control in skating requires a tremendous amount of strength.  Like I said, it's extremely deceiving and too often dismissed.  If you want to become a great skater and eventually coach, I highly recommend embracing the idea of conditioning and understanding the importance.

Offline techskater

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2010, 02:34:59 PM »
Arm strength could help you with the lift in your Axel, though

Offline Sierra

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2010, 06:09:09 PM »
I do condition. I just don't isolate my arms. Right now they seem to get plenty of conditioning from planks, side planks, and exercises where I have to hold weights. I am the last person that needs a conditioning lecture.

This thread was originally on flexibility. I am more concerned about my flexibility than my arms.

Offline Sk8tmum

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2010, 06:34:58 PM »
Work with an accredited personal trainer or a physiotherapist on this process. You can severely injure your back if you work on this goal incorrectly. Seen too many little and not-so-little teenage girls of late with back problems and damaged hip sockets from forcing flexibility/doing exercises out of books or off websites/mimicking other skater's exercises/ etc etc etc.  At 14, you're still physically maturing.

Offline Sierra

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Re: Back flexibility
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2010, 07:05:24 PM »
There is absolutely no way I can afford that, or would ever convince my mother to put time and money into it. Believe me, I am extremely careful and very intuitive towards my body. I took gymnastics for about three months so I know how to do a bridge correctly, and I have had off ice class here and there with proper technique for crunches, wall sits, stretches, off-ice jumping, and a few other leg/core exercises. My coach has given me instructions for two or three exercises as well. I've never felt pain, at the most a bit of soreness from either stretching or strengthening.
It would absolutely kill me if I injured myself & couldn't skate for months, which is why I'm so diligent. Even going for two weeks without skating becomes very difficult.