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Freedom, Flexibility...and Hamst

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Freedom, Flexibility… and HamstringsBy Zac Jones from Heal Yourself and MoveSo here’s the thing with hamstrings-and this goes for just about anything to do with stretching:We need to challenge the idea that End of Range anything actually exists to have any chance ofimproving end of range flexibility, especially when it comes to dance.Make sense? Not yet?!Hear me out please!So end of range (which I’ll call EoR for short!) is a dangerous illusion that when followed throughwith extreme stretching, (and most stretching is extreme-more on that later), creates the end ofmovement adaptability and the beginning of injury.Because when movement ends but pressure continues or ramps up in terms of eccentric,stretch contraction and THEN you try moving dynamically from the most extreme point ofpressurised contraction…Something’s got to give and that something often ends up being the muscles (or even worse,ligaments), that are being put under that much pressure.But as I mentioned above, it all stems from the belief in an illusion, the illusion that there is anend of range for any part of the body at any time.But clearly there are ranges that the body won’t let you do-isn’t that the end of range in thatpart?Well, yes and no…Yes, if you’re coming from one paradigm and no if you are moving from the other!So what are these two paradigms and why is it so important for your dancing and teaching to beutilising the right one?Well Paradigm One is the one you are probably familiar with. It says move till you feel a stretchand then stop (or rather be stopped) and then breathe or relax to try and incrementally improvethe range from the stretch point.That’s EoR stretching-and it often hurts.

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Paradigm Two says identify the resistance before it becomes a stopping point and relax thatpoint with reference to the whole body so that as the range of the targeted muscles are allowedto increase via relaxation, the whole body integrates the expanding range into its movementconsciousness.That’s HY+M stretching-and it NEVER hurts!Why? Because when you activate your whole body movement consciousness, it actuallybecomes impossible for you to put a part or parts of your body in extreme ranges beyond thecapacity of the rest of your physical system to integrate.It simply won’t let you do it.The intelligence of your whole mind-body movement system takes over and you start to ‘read’every movement, every range through the prism of your whole body’s response.You are no longer seeing and experiencing your body through the illusion of separate parts,parts that need to be stretched or strengthened or “techniqued” without reference to every otherpart, aka the whole body.This starts as a conceptual shift, perhaps even through reading this article, but very soonbecause actualised as you start to apply in your daily movement activities.And just to start is so, so simple!How to, in under two minutesSo, to start this practice and begin expanding your movement consciousness, all you need to dothe next time you feel a joint or muscle group taking more load or stretching more in contrast toother areas of the body….Is first, simply relax, not the area that feels the stretch, but instead the rest of the body around itwithout coming out of the stretching range completely. Keep relaxing the whole body until thereis no further feeling of stretch in the original area.Then check the movement capacity following this exercise.Did you notice how much more smoothness, ease, range and awareness of the whole body youfelt?That’s how simple it is!The other aspect for improving hamstring range and movability is to start the process with thesupport of the bones of the targeted muscles already in place.

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Too often we stretch away from the muscle towards another part of the body, ie with hamstringstretches we try and stretch away from the hamstring towards the foot.But there’s no away, there’s no towards, there’s no ‘there there’!The muscle is a movement machine operating in full interdependent relationship with everyother part of the body.And to increase its capacity for length, for power, for dynamic or subtle action you have toincrease its integrative complexity in relationship with every other part as well.In simple terms this means listening to what the rest of the body tells you when you try to moveor increase the range of an apparently individual part.If the rest of the body becomes tense, then you can be pretty sure you are going too far withthat stretch or range in an individual area, ie the hamstring.In fact, you should never actually feel that any part is individual or separate. You should alwaysfeel like you are operating as a team, where each component is supported by the whole.When you combine this whole body teamwork approach with support of the bones attaching tothe muscle group or groups you are targeting for improved range, something remarkable tendsto happen….Your experience of range in that area becomes endless…It’s not that you suddenly go to Sylvie Guillem 6 O’Clock (though I have seen it happen!)It’s that the range you experienced before as a stopping, or hitting an edge or a wall from whichyou could not go further without strain, now moves both through and around the previous ‘endrange’ without any feeling of restriction whatsoever.In addition you are able to glide effortlessly into the next movement or movements with ease.That’s what I mean by the idea of EoR as an illusion.An illusion sustained by tension but dissolved into the reality of fluid endless grace throughsupport for the bones, targeted release of resistance and whole body movement consciousness.

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To get a bit of that fluid grace and to create Endless Movement Ranges for yourself and/or yourstudents you can book a Breakthrough Consult with me on the link below and I’ll show you how! soonZac©Heal Yourself and Move 2022