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Touching Toes (Read 9724 times)

JJP

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#50 Re: Touching Toes
May 12, 2022, 05:46:46 pm

One thing I have wondered is it is important to try strengthen the hamstring as well as working on stretching?
 

...and how do you specifically strengthen it? A load of running, or specific weight machines like that one where you lie on your belly and lift the weights by bending your knee (I expect it has a name).

Ye more like the trendy eccentric exercises mentioned for football injury prevention/ recovery like those mentioned by Liam with glute bridging (think moving your heel further away uses hamstring more), heel slides where you kind of slowly slide your heel out and ye ultimately the nordics or some of their easier variations.

Ye wasnt really meaning strengthening hamstrings directly for climbing but more to make the muscle more functional/ stretchable/ less injury prone. 

Your probably right Liam, I can manage just about if I have my legs quite wide apart but still more comfortable with a yoga block doing that.  Definitely an area to improve!

I do sometimes wonder if certain biomechanical things contribute a bit.  ie if you are tall imagine more of the extra height comes from longer legs than longer body ?   




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#51 Re: Touching Toes
May 12, 2022, 08:08:56 pm
I bet everyone who is particularly good at high feet has strong hip flexors.

Everyone loves tests, so try sitting on the floor in a straddle position (straight legs approximately 90 degrees apart), put both palms on the floor in front of you and lift your feet off the ground for 5 seconds. Move both hands forward to increase the difficulty and get a 5 second max. I think hands further forward than your knees is a good score and in line with your feet is equivalent to 1 arming the BM2K middle slot  ;)

 :wavecry:
Lifting my legs up with my hands at my knees was okay, but even an inch further down had my eyeballs rolling in their sockets as my quads did a spasm. What should I do about that?

slab_happy

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#52 Re: Touching Toes
May 13, 2022, 11:26:13 am
Ye wasnt really meaning strengthening hamstrings directly for climbing but more to make the muscle more functional/ stretchable/ less injury prone. 

The recommendation I've heard when it comes to using strength training specifically to increase flexibility is to work on building strength and control in the end range of your current range of motion -- so the position where you're the furthest you can go in a stretch, and just before that (which is a range where muscles are generally very weak).

The rationale is that this encourages the nervous system to allow the range of motion to expand further because it feels "safe" (as opposed to reflexively contracting to prevent injury).

N.B. I am not a doctor or physio! But as I understand it: for example, if you were doing a supine hamstring stretch with a strap, i.e. lying on your back on the floor with one leg in the air and a strap or resistance band looped round your foot so you can pull your leg towards you, you could work on strength by:

pulling your leg towards you so you feel a stretch, then letting go and trying to keep your leg where it is
starting further away, and seeing if you can use the quads and hip flexors to pull the leg into that end position
while pulling your leg towards you with the band, contract the hamstrings so they're pulling your leg in the opposite direction

Fiend

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#53 Re: Touching Toes
May 13, 2022, 04:52:17 pm
My top tip, in two parts:

1) Hamstring (and hip) stretches can benefit a lot from longer holds — think at least a minute, maybe 3-5 minutes if you want to go full Yin Yoga style. Find a pose that requires minimal muscle tension to hold (e.g. sitting or lying on the floor), then don’t over-strain, just go to the point where you feel a bit of a stretch happening, then hang out there and breathe and chill for a while. You might find that after a minute or so things “unlock” a bit and you can go deeper into the stretch. Don’t be afraid to fidget about, adjust the pose to see what feels best, go a bit deeper or back off as needed; there is no law that you have to stay perfectly still.

2) Sitting or reclining hamstring (and hip) stretches are pretty excellent for watching DVDs/YouTube/iPlayer/whatever. Just stick a pillow or block under your head if you’re lying on your back, so you can see the screen.  This makes long holds much, much less boring, and stops you twitching and looking at your watch every 5 seconds, and also increases motivation to do your stretches because then it becomes the time you get to watch that TV programme you meant to get around to.

I owe my front splits largely to a box set of The Wire (not a joke).

Secondary tip: experiment with having at least a micro-bend in your knees.

Even if/when you can touch your toes with your legs locked straight, unlocking them a fraction can help get the stretch happening in the muscle belly rather than straining the hamstring attachment to your sitz bones, which hurts and takes ages to heal (do not recommend).

Other secondary tip: improvise a “yoga belt”  with a regular belt, a sling, a metre or two of worn-out rope, a resistance band, whatever. When you’re doing reclining stretches, use it to hook your foot and pull it gently towards you. Even if you can reach your foot without it, the belt lets you do so while keeping your back very flat, and without straining or tensing stuff.

This again contributes to the ability to chill and breathe, which has a huge effect on allowing you to relax and your nervous system to decide that you’re not about to pull yourself apart and that therefore it doesn’t need to contract your muscles protectively to prevent injury.

I believe the science increasingly suggests that a lot of stretching is not about tissue changes but about the nervous system being conditioned to accept that a wider range of motion can be safe and okay.

Which is why building strength at the extremes of your current range of motion can also help, because it builds that experience of having stability and control in that end-range (and also is really really handy for anything like climbing where you really need to have strength and control while your joints might be in quite extreme positions) .
Good post and interesting stuff.

I've been catching up on this thread attentively since I derailed it from touching your toes into including climbing-relevant stretches discussion  :-[ and it's got me quite inspired. I'm struggling with training at the moment due to another shitting injury and trying to find ways around that, at the same time my flexbility - apart from touching my toes, of course - is absolutely bolloxed after getting over the LCL injury (incidentally even looking at pigeon pose made me shudder, that would rip the ligament in two like a bit of tissue paper). I can't wait to try LH98's "Bloody hell! How inflexible are you?!" floor-sitting test and report back  :look:

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#54 Re: Touching Toes
May 13, 2022, 06:14:50 pm
so try sitting on the floor
Tick!

Quote
in a straddle position (straight legs approximately 90 degrees apart),
Took some effort but just about possible, I used a box to estimate 90-degreeness.

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put both palms on the floor in front of you
Actually quite hard to fit them in with my enormously fucking fat swollen tree-trunk thighs  :'( :( >:(

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and lift your feet off the ground for 5 seconds.
Prolapse b2b quad strain!!

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Move both hands forward to increase the difficulty and get a 5 second max.
It definitely got more difficult. I could get my wrists out about 10" from my sweaty bawbag, but that did hurt in my thighs doing 5 seconds.

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I think hands further forward than your knees is a good score
:lol: meanwhile back in reality...

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and in line with your feet is equivalent to 1 arming the BM2K middle slot  ;)
At which point you should also be benchpressing 1.5 bw, muscle-ups for breakfast, and doing 8Bs with iron cross moves in, or something.


slab_happy

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#55 Re: Touching Toes
May 14, 2022, 08:58:29 am
(incidentally even looking at pigeon pose made me shudder, that would rip the ligament in two like a bit of tissue paper).

Yeah, the thing with pigeon is that if you do it correctly, your bent leg functions like one solid piece, with all the bones nicely lined up and joints congruent, and exclusively rotates from the hip.

The problem is that it's a pose where it's really easy to "cheat" and force it beyond what your hip movement will allow, if you're focusing on making it look like the picture in the book or whatever; you can lever a lot of weight into it, and then the rotation that your hip can't do will end up as torque through your knee and fuck it up, even without a pre-existing injury.

However, there are modifications and alternatives to suit whatever your current ROM is -- Cheque was telling me about a really clever version of Pigeon he's got, standing up and using furniture to prop the front leg at a manageable height/amount of rotation.

Or (for example) you've got the Z-sit or Deer Pose versions where you bend the back leg to the side, which tips the hips so the front leg can go down to the ground with a much less aggressive degree of rotation:

https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/beginners/how-to/3-ways-make-pigeon-pose-feel-better/
https://yogauonline.com/yoga-practice-tips-and-inspiration/4-accessible-pigeon-pose-variations

James Malloch

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#56 Re: Touching Toes
May 14, 2022, 11:53:56 am
I need to read through more of the replies here but I thought I would send an update after day 3 of stretching.

It’s on a pad which makes me sink in a bit and I don’t get as high if I do it on firm ground, but the “before” photo was on the pad so I did the same again.

Day 1 was without any real warm up and no stretching.



Day 3 was after a v. Light warm up about 20 mins of stretching



I could go further with someone pushing, but I’m on my own today. Really happy with the progress!

Fultonius

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#57 Re: Touching Toes
May 14, 2022, 12:15:27 pm
You have an OVEN in your van?!?!  Gas powered?

James Malloch

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#58 Re: Touching Toes
May 14, 2022, 12:46:15 pm
You have an OVEN in your van?!?!  Gas powered?

Yeah it’s a pretty luxury van! It’s a thetford triplex. 3 burners, oven and grill.

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#59 Re: Touching Toes
May 14, 2022, 09:18:25 pm
I could go further with someone pushing, but I’m on my own today. Really happy with the progress!

Nice work!

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#60 Re: Touching Toes
May 24, 2022, 07:19:24 pm
Forgot to post that I very much like your assistant in the first picture, James!

I've been trying to get back into / keep up with stretching, as I can't train with my elbow, but hopefully stretching can both help a little bit with my climbing, but also with conditioning my body and setting it up for future training.

I've halved my 2 hour gym sessions (the emergency "not climbing enough at the moment" ones...) and done 50 mins of stretching to finish instead of more weights. This seems to be okay.

The most useful thing has been finding the stretches that are the most relaxing and easiest to chill out in with the body being put into the stretch and then having to do the least exertion after. As well as toes touching, I've particularly liked cobbler pose sitting against a wall, and can relax into that for a few minutes, also the quad / hip flexor stretch where you have one foot behind you on a bench (nice on the padded mats / bench).

Also not having a militantly strict routine and going with the flow a bit in terms of how much I do and what order i do it in (as long as i'm doing stuff to open the pelvis, do glutes, and a few others, at SOME point) has helped me be more relaxed and positive about stretching sessions.

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#61 Re: Touching Toes
May 25, 2022, 09:27:30 am
Sounds like a good routine Fiend. Chopping the weights session in half is a good move, as anything after the first hour is likely going to be junk mileage.

Due to poor positioning on side splits, I've often struggled with my femur jamming my pelvis. If I've pushed a bit too hard it can leave the inside of my hips sore for a few days. More horse squats seems to be helping rewire my brain to position the pelvis better; If I fatigue the muscles in horse stance and then try to rep out horse squats, I really have to concentrate on keeping anterior pelvic tilt to prevent jamming. Another issue I haven't managed to fix is with keeping the femur externally rotated, or at least neutral when going deep on side splits. Any tips?

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#62 Re: Touching Toes
May 25, 2022, 09:28:12 am
edit: double post

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#63 Re: Touching Toes
May 25, 2022, 01:56:11 pm
Also not having a militantly strict routine and going with the flow a bit in terms of how much I do and what order i do it in (as long as i'm doing stuff to open the pelvis, do glutes, and a few others, at SOME point) has helped me be more relaxed and positive about stretching sessions.

This approach has been really useful for me too. As long as I give myself a minimum of five minutes and do a couple of key stretches then I’m good, no pressure. Though I usually do quite a bit more. I’m on a 58 day streak of stretching atm which has definitely yielded results.

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#64 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 01:06:47 am
Slightly off-topic but in case it's useful, I can confirm that being able to touch your toes is absolutely bloody useless for 1. Any form of relevant climbing flexibility (hip-opening, wide bridges, etc), 2. Any form of climbing performance.

OTOH it's a fairly pleasant stretch, it is directly measurable, and I agree with the common sense advice above of starting gently, doing it regularly, doing longer holds etc.

This. I can touch my palms to the floor easily and while it's nice that I'm able to do it, it does nothing for me in terms of climbing performance.

cheque

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#65 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 07:24:03 am
I can touch my palms to the floor easily and while it's nice that I'm able to do it, it does nothing for me in terms of climbing performance.

So if something happened that made your hamstrings, glutes and lower back so stiff that you had to sit down to put your shoes on and made involuntarily grunting noises while doing so, do you think you’d be climbing at the same level as before?

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#66 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 09:35:19 am
Apologies for straying off topic, but can you bendy folk recommend some stretches that are relevant for climbers? Upper body, lower body, I ain't fussy - but preferably accessible to someone as stiff as a board.

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#67 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 09:52:56 am
https://www.verywellfit.com/seated-groin-and-inner-thigh-stretch-3120294

for a start. For opening hips and being able to get in close to and over holds.

Or just google "best stretches for climbers"

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#68 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 10:57:56 am
So if something happened that made your hamstrings, glutes and lower back so stiff that you had to sit down to put your shoes on and made involuntarily grunting noises while doing so, do you think you’d be climbing at the same level as before?
Sorry cheque, my original reply about this wasn't meant to disparage or dismiss people who have severely struggled with mobility due to injury or disability - obviously you were an unfortunate outlier!!


https://www.verywellfit.com/seated-groin-and-inner-thigh-stretch-3120294
Ah that's the one I have been calling cobbler pose, and do sitting against the wall with a straight back, for maximum chillage / ease of use.

For glutes, I do this: https://www.verywellfit.com/eye-of-the-needle-pose-sucirandhrasana-3567044 - but with the back foot resting against the wall and knee at 90 degrees - really targets the glutes but again is pretty chilled to stay in (although I had to give it up completely with my LCL, and am now easing back in with a modified version).

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#69 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 11:09:55 am
https://www.verywellfit.com/seated-groin-and-inner-thigh-stretch-3120294

for a start. For opening hips and being able to get in close to and over holds.

Or just google "best stretches for climbers"

In "9 out of 10 Climbers", Dave MacLeod recs that and a seated wide-legged forward bend as the key two for climbers. Here's a decent description of the latter:

https://www.doyou.com/how-to-do-wide-legged-seated-forward-fold-pose/

I'd also add a basic doorway pec stretch because it can help prevent a lot of shoulder fuckery.

SA Chris

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#70 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 11:23:14 am
good call on the pec stretch. always feels good too.

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#71 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 11:29:47 am
Apologies for straying off topic, but can you bendy folk recommend some stretches that are relevant for climbers? Upper body, lower body, I ain't fussy - but preferably accessible to someone as stiff as a board.

Well done on remembering upper body - I think having open shoulders is at least as important as having open hips! A good test is to stand with your back to a wall and raise your arms above your head without your lower back leaving the wall. If you can't get yours hands to touch the wall then you are giving up reach and will need to bring your torso further from the wall every time you are reaching overhead (if your core is engaged then you can't arc your back to compensate). The butchers block stretch is a great way to help address this:



Pec stretch as others have mentioned will also help. Personally I find the floor version much more effective than the doorway:


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#72 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 11:52:38 am
Excellent, thanks all, shall slot some of those in between 1 armers

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#73 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 12:30:48 pm
If you want to add to those, cat-cow is nice for mobilizing your spine and preventing back ache -- good to put in your warm-up:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/multimedia/cat-cow-pose/vid-20453581

And downwards-facing dog gives you a hamstring stretch, a calf stretch and some shoulder-opening (and weight-bearing down through your hands), so it's potentially a lot of bang for your buck. But because it's got all that going on, it might be hard to get into initially if you're very stiff.

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/resources/yoga-poses/downward-facing-dog-pose
https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/downward-facing-dog/

If it doesn't work even with your knees very bent, you could try it with your hands on the seat of a chair or on the wall. Or if it just feels cramped/awkward/jammed and you're not feeling a stretch, ditch it until you've got a bit more range of motion in the components and can get something out of it.

These are less focused on enhancing specific mobility for climbing, more general maintenance and preventing the climbing from fucking you up too much.

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#74 Re: Touching Toes
May 26, 2022, 01:50:40 pm
These are less focused on enhancing specific mobility for climbing, more general maintenance and preventing the climbing from fucking you up too much.
Good. Something very much at the forefront of my mind at the moment. Who knows if I could attain a body condition that's 1/10th of a LiamHutch98, I might be able to train again  :-\

Quite pleased to see that many of these recommendations are stuff I include already. I do cat-cow (incredibly inflexibly) at the end of two sets of cobra (for keeping sciatica at bay) and child's pose. I do pecs on door frame (but probably not nearly enough). I'll try downward dog and butcher's block, but probably both at the same time.

 

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