A few weeks ago I decided to really start working on my flexibility. I’m one of those people who go on and on about becoming more flexible and will stretch every time I teach or take a class, but unless I’m doing some form of yoga or Pilates I just don’t think my flexibility will improve as quickly as I would like.
I have decided that the time is now. No more sitting around waiting to become more flexible…
If I want it, I have to go and get it!
The First Step
I decided to assess my own flexibility and my goals. In general I am often considered to be really flexible by others (which makes me very happy!) but that’s not enough for me and it’s not in the places that I want it. Arms and shoulders yes! Back and hips, not so much.
My main aim is similar to most polers… To get more flexible in the splits. My aim stems from being unable to do certain moves and split holds on the pole which I’m desperate to be able to do. My logic is that if I can do the splits, then these moves will come a whole lot easier and quicker.
The How To
I’m quite good at stretching in the gym after a work out… The problem is that I’m not that great at keeping up with developmental stretching – those that really help us with our flexibility. While I’m happy to sit in forwards splits, I’ve found that box splits tend to be the enemy, they hurt!!
The way I respond best to more hardcore stretching is in classes where you follow on in person or on DVDs. While on the whole my spare time is limited, and therefore time to attend a class is limited, time when I can put a DVD on however is a bit more available.
I decided to move straight past any kind of beginner DVDs and right on to pole specific DVDs. I decided to buy three from two different polers. (I shall divulge a little later when I have tried a few more DVDs and can give honest reviews across the board)
All of the DVD workouts I’m trying out, cover stretching for the whole body. For me, I do get a little bored when trying to stretch parts where I’m already very flexible and struggle on the parts where I really need it.
That said, I do make sure that I do the whole DVD. I figure that the DVD is going to play through regardless of whether I have workout or not. So I might as well be benefiting from it.
The thing I was most surprised about is how physically exhausting stretching can be, I know you’re meant to focus on your breathing and drink water throughout but I found that I got very light headed from holding the stretches, I also found that I was sweating a lot more than anticipated. I’ve never really thought that I would sweat through stretching unless it was in Bikram yoga. It’s quite an exciting idea really… Well to me it is!
All of the DVDs tell me that if I want to keep up my stretching I should do them 3 times a week and 5 times if I want to increase my flexibility, I aimed for 5 times a week… With two DVDs.
Initially I found this a little hard to fit into my life but as soon as I had watched each DVD enough times to be able to follow it with the sound off, I decided to put it on and stretch while I watch a TV program at the end of the night. For me, I also found that it helped me to sleep better – that might not work for everyone though!
I’ve only been stretching this intensely for a few weeks and already I’ve got varying degrees of success. I’ve found that my splits are improving on my back which is great but my splits on the floor don’t feel much closer. To be honest, there are some days when my body is warm enough where I can get right down to the ground, and there are other days like when I am a bit colder and try to stretch where I don’t feel like I’m getting closer. That said, I realise that my splits are a lot of closer to the ground to start with than most people so I know if I really want to get closer I need to keep at it. I’m sure one day it will all click into place and I will get to the floor easily.
I’ve never really thought too much about stretching my back. When I used to do gymnastics I used to be able to do back bends and walk overs but haven’t had much time to practice of late. When I go to the beach I give it a go though! When I go to other aerial classes, I’ve had instructors tell me that I’ve got a flexible back so I just believe them and don’t really think much else about it.
I’ve tried move combinations such as superman to a shoulder mount and found that I couldn’t do it!! I can do both moves individually but I found that I got to a point when my back was bent slightly too far for me to then reach up and have the power to bring my legs up.
A few days ago I started working on my titanic again… I figured that if I could do that then I could work on titanic to a shoulder mount and then eventually superman to shoulder mount. I have tried and failed at the titanic many times before. Again I couldn’t bend my back enough to be able to bring my legs down. However three days ago I managed to bring my legs down!! 😀 A very happy moment indeed. Now I can’t hold the titanic with just my legs yet but I figure that I’m not too far away.
Similar to my back, I don’t often think about my posture, I know that for the most part it’s okay. Not great but okay. However I have noticed that after doing my flexibilty DVDs my posture has really improved. I stand up talk and walk proud. The most important thing is that it comes naturally to me and is actually very comfortable. A great side effect from stretching!
All in all I’m so surprised by how much my flexibility has improved and therefore my poling too. My static poses on the pole that need to be straight are much straighter and those that require flexibility are a lot closer than ever before. While I may not be able to nail my splits just yet, I know for sure that my poling is vastly improving… and to me, that’s the most important thing.
All in all I can say that I am feeling the benefits of stretching in more ways than I thought. It’s also nice and easy to fit in while watching TV – and I feel healthier than just sitting on a couch as well! How often do you stretch?