January 27, 2014

Stretch Therapy fascial release for pancake/straddle | How to get down in the pancake

This video shows a Stretch Therapy™ fascial release for the straddle/pancake body position, so desired in the men's gymnastic's world, calisthenics, the world of dance, and of course Yoga, too (final position of upavista-konasana).

Well, let's be honest: we all want to be able to do this pose!

These days many ordinary people are pursuing the sort of strength training that leads to the basic skills shown by men's gymnastics elite athletes. Many have found that their major limitation in the pursuit of this goal are fundamental restrictions in their basic flexibility. What most people don't realise is that in some positions we try to make with the body, the limitation to acquiring the movement is fascial adhesions—this term refers to when adjacent muscles (which in this case need to slide along each other as they lengthen at different rates to achieve the final position) are actually stuck together. I am writing about this phenomenon in my forthcoming book, and will put up a few more clips if people are interested.

The technique demonstrated in this clip gently separates the two muscle involved and, as a result, Suzy is immediately able to put her chest on the floor with a flat back, having been about eight inches (200mm) off the floor, with her chest testing on a rolled mat, only moment before.This technique is shown as it happened and so it looks fast. It is even more effective done slowly (a practitioner friend recommends about half the speed I used). 

Read transcript

Kit Laughlin:

Just look at this beautiful position. This is where we're going with this pose. I still hope to get there one day. That's perfection. Meredith, beautiful.

Speaker 2:

If you were somewhere where you didn't have say, bolsters, would that work with the same purpose if you had, say, the arms on a chair?

Kit Laughlin:

Absolutely. Yes, definitely. But it's even better if the body can feel something, the body rather than the arms. Look, a pillow will do, anything, rolled-up mat. Perfect.

Kit Laughlin:

Now, the practitioners. I'm going to work on Susie for a second. Could the practitioners come over here? You already know how to do this. You can work on any one you want. I want to show you the technique that we use to separate, to gently separate, the fascial adhesions in gracilis and the inner hamstring.

Kit Laughlin:

Now, if you just feel her other leg ... and don't go all the way forward, just for a second. Just sit up; there, that's lovely. This thing, this rope, that I have under my fingertips ... you can feel the same. Can you feel that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Kit Laughlin:

That is graciliss. Now here's the thing. This muscle here's completely relaxed, and the inner hamstring is nowhere near as tight as graciliss. Can you feel that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Kit Laughlin:

There's this, and this muscle here, relatively relaxed. It is only where these two are stuck together ... and look at her face and you can see, straight away. So what we do is we come up to here, where in fact, they're completely separate. Can you feel that they're completely separate. And run your fingers along like this, backwards and forwards, and...

Speaker 5:

Ow.

Kit Laughlin:

Pull back.

Speaker 4:

Breathe and relax.

Kit Laughlin:

Backwards and forwards. Across, across, across. Backwards and forwards.

Speaker 4:

The gracilis away from the tendon.

Kit Laughlin:

Exactly. Wait, wait.

Speaker 3:

Is that a light stretch, you would say?

Kit Laughlin:

No, she's actually in a strong stretch position or you were, weren't you, she couldn't go down to the ground. So, and it's much more effective when you apply these manual corrections in the stretch position. Now here, the fingers are going in about that far in between those two muscles and it's effortless, but you can still feel it's that muscle, right? Absolutely.

Speaker 4:

Is this something you can do yourself?

Kit Laughlin:

Well, no, you can't do it yourself. Your body won't let you. You can try it. And I've got, I've got very strong willpower, but I certainly couldn't do it to myself. Okay. Take a breath in and let yourself go down.

Speaker 4:

Magic.

Kit Laughlin:

Okay. Feel the difference. Totally different sensation. This is not magic. I don't know how many times I've done this in workshops. Do you feel the difference?

Speaker 5:

Yeah, yep.

Kit Laughlin:

It's the fascial adhesions and no one writes about this. It's definitely going to be part of the next book though. This is, in my experience, this is the most important of the adhesions to release in the body. It's not in any way dangerous. It will leave you bruised though I can tell you. One woman came into a workshop – I can't remember where it was – and she said I had a hard time explaining this to my husband. She pulled her pants up, she's wearing those Lululemon pants, pulled them up to here. And she had this line of bruising down the inside of each thigh. It's normal. And absolutely no problem whatsoever. Anytime you release fascia, there will be that kind of effect.

Speaker 3:

Does it stay released?

Kit Laughlin:

Beg your pardon?

Speaker 3:

Does it stay released? We've gone through...

Kit Laughlin:

Absolutely. How to explain this briefly. It's a restriction to your normal range of movement. Well, actually let me take a step back from that. Just think about this for a moment. The fact that you're in a stretch position, feeling a stretch means by definition you're out of your normal range of movement. This is not part of your movement pattern. We're in ... we're literally looking into the abyss. But once you move in there backwards and forwards a few times just feel it just go up and down a few times, just feel the ease in the body doing it. Right?

Kit Laughlin:

And the brain is reflecting and checking this – all the proprioceptors are remapping, remapping, remapping. When she goes to stretch this part next time, that apprehension and that pain in that particular part just simply won't be there. It does seem like magic. I know, but it's real. There are other muscles in the body that exhibit this as similar. Let me just think around the body. This is the most spectacular one. And because this limits everyone's movement. I mean, everyone wants to put their chest in the floor, right. Go for it. Off you go.

Kit Laughlin:

But the point is, once you get this, once you get access to the abyss and you explore it, you'll want to go back there again and again and again, because this is something you've been trying to do for years, right? That's how it works. And so to pick up on what Craig said, which is completely accurate, it now becomes part of your movement pattern. And as a result no sticking.

Speaker 4:

I have a question. Cause I work with a lot of kids, even my son – in this stretch, he can't roll his hips forward at all. I couldn't either, and then one day I could. And I never figured out what happened.

Kit Laughlin:

No. Well, this is the limitation. The movement of the hips forward, when your legs are apart, that's all gracilis; gracilis and the inner hamstring.


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