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Flexibility Training Methods and Skeletal Variation

 
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Eimear Beardmore



Joined: 05 Aug 2019
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:07 pm    Post subject: Flexibility Training Methods and Skeletal Variation Reply with quote

Hi,

Just a query. I have a longstanding yin practice and have been flexibility training for the last 2 years or so. I have been reviewing the literature on skeletal variation, work of Bernie and Paul Grilley. Clearly skeletal variation is a factor all teachers and practitioners must be aware of and I have thoroughly resonated with the writings of both Paul and Bernie.

However as I have been more exposed to flexibility modalities I find the terms tension and compression are posing a lot of questions for me. I would be interested in other teacher's understanding of the following.

For example some flexibility training programs would say that full split is achievable for the majority of people after a 2 year consistent active flexibility training program. Thoughts?

I myself felt I had a good understanding in my own body of tension and compression yet I have been surprised by the increased range of motion I have gained through using active flexibility methods. If I am someone with a longstanding yoga practice and I misjudged how I had not hit the bones so to speak is there a risk of, in a sense, selling students short by getting students to rely on their subjective experience of compression or to put it another way how do we quantify that window between tension and compression for students? It appears that using the language and teaching students to understand and feel tension and compression is of course valuable but they are still highly subjective terms of reference that may not reflect their ultimate physical capacity of the individual. Also I presume it's also necessary to talk about other variables that would impact end range such as nervous system interference.

I understand completely that end range flexibility is not the express goal of yin. However I think as a professional it's important to be aware of other disciplines in the field. Some students are interested in these concepts, train in other disciplines and want to know where yin sits on the spectrum of flexibility training.

Thanking in advance for the elucidation! Eimear
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1076
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Eimear

You question whether full splits (Hanumanasana) is really available for most students if they work consistently. Well, I don’t agree. It is certainly possible for some students, but not most and for many to try to get to this posture will create unwanted instability in the hip sockets. I would have to question the intention of the pose: why would a student want to do full splits? There is no health benefit to being that flexible, but it will look cool.

Why do I feel that full splits is not available? For a couple of reasons, which is described in my book Your Body, Your Yoga. To do this pose requires a lot of flexion in the hip of the front leg and extension in the back leg. Ideally, one would want 90° of flexion for the front and 90° of extension for the back leg, thus totaling the 180° needed for splits. The normal range of motion for 95% of the population is from 98° to 146° of flexion but only 6~38° of extension. Thus, the front leg can flex 90°, but not the back leg. Even the most flexible contortionists don’t get much more extension than 45° in that back leg. To get around that limitation, the students will tilt the pelvis forward by somewhere between 52~84° depending upon their flexibility, which means the front hip has to flex that much more. Now the front hip has to give 142~174° of flexion! And, this is where compression may arise.

I believe that the back leg is stopped in extension due to tension in the capsular ligaments, not by compression. Paul Grilley feels that compression could arise even here, but I am no so sure. (Remember: always is always wrong and never is never right. We can’t say that we always are stopped by compression. This is a good generalization but don’t be too dogmatic with applying it.) To try to get more extension of the back leg, then, would require over-stretching those ligaments, which could lead to instability in the hip socket. Again, I question what the intention of doing that could be.

In the front hip, most students cannot flex 142° due to either tension or compression. Compression could come from a variety of sources. For example, the ASIS hitting the thigh or the neck of the femur hitting the labrum. For most students tension may be the original impediment, but eventually compression will arise. For the few students where tension only is stopping them, and no sign of compression, once again the capsular ligaments will restrict them. And, once again, what would be the point in stretching them? I can see the point in stretching the hamstrings, to a point, and providing a healthy stress to the ligaments, but to overstretch the ligaments solely to allow you to do a yoga pose seems counterintuitive to me. There is no health benefit to do that.

Again, if you would like to learn more about the anatomy of all this, I refer you to my book.

Cheers
Bernie


Last edited by Bernie on Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Eimear Beardmore



Joined: 05 Aug 2019
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bernie,

Thank you very much for your swift reply. Yes, as you emphasised on your training intention is what the practice comes back to. I thoroughly enjoy the books and will revisit with greater understanding. Thank you for expanding on the question. About to listen to your podcast with Jason Crandell.

Thanks,

Eimear
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