Newsletter no. 20 – Monday 18 October, 2021
This is the web-based version of Stretch Therapy Newsletter no. 20
Releasing chest, arm, and forearm muscles
The third video today is a partner brachialis and elbow-straightening exercise. Many people who do strength training find that they can't fully straighten the elbow, which makes holding any straight-arm exercise – for example a plank – more difficult than it needs to be. The reason is if you do not have a small amount of desirable hyperextension in your elbow, you will have to use muscular effort from your shoulders and triceps to hold you arm straight. Add that tiny amount of desirable hyperextension however, and you can rest on your bones: in other words, alignment is queen (Olivia said so 🐱).
Floor front arm stretch
In this video, Olivia takes you through the subtleties of the floor version of the front arm stretch. Remember that it can be used to stretch either bicep or pec. major (in addition to all of the other muscles and fascia), just by how you have the arm oriented towards the floor. Palm facing the floor? Pec. major. Arm internally rotated, with back of wrist towards the floor? Now it's a major biceps stretch. Olivia's version adds a strong fascial dimension, too.
Solo floor biceps and forearm stretch
This video demonstrates the solo version of the biceps–forearm stretch. This is where your strength can really help: once in the floor biceps stretch, you clench your fist, flex the wrist as much as you can, and while maintaining the maximum flexion, you internally rotate the whole arm, from shoulder to wrist.
Take your time, and don't forget to completely relax the tummy (without letting anything move) before taking in another breath and re-stretching. Once in the end position, the key instruction here is to let the whole body go as soft as you can.
Kit explains how to stretch brachialis, both a flexor and stabiliser of the elbow, and a muscle that is vital to anyone doing gymnastics strength training. As well, if you are a bodybuilder and find that you can't straighten your elbow fully, try this.
In the beginning years of practice, it is common to over-stress this muscle: the body uses this muscle as a major stabiliser of the elbow joint in all straight-arm strength movements, like the planche.
Ringo, one of the teachers at Aerial Fitness Studio in Singapore, asked Kit to help him with this muscle; it had been a problem for him for quite a while.
The video, even though only just under three minutes in duration, shows how a partner can help to stretch this muscle. If it has a small injury, or is chronically tight, you will not be able to straighten the affected elbow properly – and a small degree of hyperextension is absolutely necessary for any handstand work, or any straight-arm supports.
A note from a student
Dr Parveen Sharma, a comment left on the ST YouTube channel