Welcome to our Gymnastics Community
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up

Back flexibility

Status
Not open for further replies.

just4fun

New Member
Nov 8, 2006
35
Besides bridges and backbends what are some other at-home drills to safely increase back flexibility for a five year old? My dtrs dance teacher said she needs to 'work' on her backbends. (I find the dance studio is much more aggresive at priming kids for company) I need to get clarification from her but she does her bridges, backbends and splits. The splits she works on every other day (for dancing) but the bridges, backbends she does daily - it seems as though some kids just naturally have a great arch to their back and some don't.
 

JBS

Administrator
Staff member
Verified Coach
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
Sep 3, 2005
5,526
Wisconsin
Country
USA
Is it her back flexibility or her shoulder flexibility? Have her lay on the floor on her belly. Give her some sort of stick or rope to hold onto (shoulder width hand grip). Keeping her forehead on the ground and hands on the stick or rope, how high can she lift her hands off the ground with straight arms?

Can't lift them up = needs a lot of work
6 inches = OK...but could have problems with backbend
12 inches = good
18 inches = great

Backwards arching skills should be practiced very carefully at home. Bridges are basically the only thing that can be practiced at home safely.

If you are helping her, you could have her slowly walk her hands backwards down the wall into a bridge position. You could also spot her on the way down. Her legs need to remain straight and feet should stay flat. Many times the problem is the legs and feet and not the flexibility.
 

just4fun

New Member
Nov 8, 2006
35
shoulder flexibility

That was quite an interesting thing to do - my whole family had fun measuring our shoulder flexibility using a hockey stick.
Results - my 19 year old son (who is a pitcher) can lift the stick way far up, yet his friend who is a catcher can only lift the stick 4-5 inches, my 7 year old son can do just about 13 inches, and my 5 year old dtr can do 9 inches, although one time she got to almost 11 inches. I can barely lift the stick and have resolved to improve my shoulder flexibility!!
The only thing that we weren't sure about was during the test can you lift your legs? We all did much better when we lifted our legs (not our foreheads)
Thanks for the input and help.
 
G

gracefulone

Guest
We always do partner strethces like that, where one person lifts the other person's arms up. Mine go just inches from the floor.
 

JBS

Administrator
Staff member
Verified Coach
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
Sep 3, 2005
5,526
Wisconsin
Country
USA
The only thing that we weren't sure about was during the test can you lift your legs? We all did much better when we lifted our legs (not our foreheads)
Thanks for the input and help.
You should try and keep your legs relaxed and on the ground.

Also, younger kids could be a little lower just because there arms are shorter (I guess you would have to measure the angle in degrees to really compare people). If your average all adults at this drill, males tend to be about 6 inches lower than females.
 
R

rainmonkey03

Guest
I tried this exercise and I can get about 6.5 inches off the ground. I would like to have more shoulder flexibility. What can I do?
 

JBS

Administrator
Staff member
Verified Coach
Proud Parent
Former Gymnast
Sep 3, 2005
5,526
Wisconsin
Country
USA
Shoulder Flexibility

I tried this exercise and I can get about 6.5 inches off the ground. I would like to have more shoulder flexibility. What can I do?
You could do German hangs (skin the cats) on a bar or rings, bridges (of course), and cat stretches.

Also, lay on your stomach with your arms out to the side. Make sure your arms are a little higher than your shoulders (hand even with ear). Bend one arm and place your palm flat next to your chest. Roll (carefully) onto your straight arm with the help of the bent arm. This will stretch your shoulder and chest...do it on both arms. Do the stretch slowly and try slightly different positions until it works for you.
 
F

flipflop

Guest
Thanks, JBS, that's a cool test. I'm going to have my whole team try it.
 

Valentin

Coach
Coach
Nov 12, 2007
376
USA
haha taintedlovexzero you are so right it doens't work, that is because the test doesn't measure if you can or can't do a walkover it measures your active shoulder flexibility. haha Just cause you have 23in doesn't mean you can immediately do a walkover, but it does mean that you can a good degree of active shoulder ROM which is very important for the walkover. You still need to learn how do to it. Not to mention if you hip flexors are tight then you are going to seriously struggle with the walkover unless you can reach back even further then 23inc haha.

Your daughter should also work on hip flexor flexibility, and strength in order to be able to do the back bends safely. To much back bends using the back (due to weakness in hip flexors, and abs, along with poor shoulder and hip flexibility) can results in some serious back injuries especially if you daughter sticks with it (dance) and doesn't change/improve her technique on the skill.

Hip splits does work the hip flexors but there are better exercise (especially if your daughter then do the splits comfortably on the floor). Hip squareness greatly increase the need for better hip flexors flexibility, so if your daughter is twisting her hips in the splits she is virtually avoiding the hip flexors and working the internal rotators (hips) and adductors (which is not what we want in this case).
Google hip flexor stretches and quad stretches (the quad is one of the hip flexors, but most sites you will visit running that search will only work the Iliopsoas, so get some quad stretches as well)..

HOpe that helps
 

gymnastgirl08

New Member
Mar 12, 2008
11
Orlando, FL.
Dance studios are prone to really only put there most effort into the girls who show natural potential for their company. Gym coaches are more about teaching the girls as a whole to be better gymnasts, then the ones who show the potential, they usually push them for the elite level. I was going into elite at 6 years old. I came out with only a few months before starting for team usa. I was set to train for the 04 olympics, but i broke my ankle and never went back.

But yeah, Dance studios are the worst, i mean they help all dancers to get better but if they see a dancer who may be a step above the rest, they begin to put their most effort into that one girl because she can be a part of their company. My dance studio is awful about it. I mean i can't say much cause i work there but i see it all the time, and it's terrible for the other girls, when all the focus only goes onto one or two girls and everyone else is just there.
 

lannamavity

Member
Sep 13, 2007
409
way out West
Is it her back flexibility or her shoulder flexibility? Have her lay on the floor on her belly. Give her some sort of stick or rope to hold onto (shoulder width hand grip). Keeping her forehead on the ground and hands on the stick or rope, how high can she lift her hands off the ground with straight arms?

Can't lift them up = needs a lot of work
6 inches = OK...but could have problems with backbend
12 inches = good
18 inches = great
This test isn't really accurate. It's actually really easy to cheat by rotating the shoulders, which is why it was removed it from the TOPs test.
 

Tumblequeensmom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2007
1,453
Hi everyone...

Let me see if I read this correctly... so the reason my DD twists her hips when she does her splits (whcih she CAN do completely flat on the ground, but she complains that her hips aren't "square") is b/c her hip flexors aren't flexible enough?? I did look up the hip flexor exercises are recommended by Valentin... they look simple enough to do at home.
 
L

LasswadeCoach

Guest
Valentin
: just out of interest are you male or female? your information and expertise on the hip flexor flexibility is outstanding!
 

Valentin

Coach
Coach
Nov 12, 2007
376
USA
Hi LasswadeCoach
I am male. I really appreciate you saying that. Sorry it has taken a while to reply, i started work again (Coaching) after having been on surgery recovery leave for a bit, so it has been hard to find the time to reply.
The reason why i know about this, i guess
1. I make it my buisness haha
2. I do have a degree in Health and Science with major in Exercise Science, and i guess more on a biomechanics side rather then physiology (but by no mean a biomechanics of any kind). So that helps.
3. I read a lot on this sort of stuff as well, in research and stuff for writing artcile for The Gym Press

I am glad i can help, and i hope this information is helpfull to someone.

Tumblequeensmom you are onto it. The situation is very common and i would say about 90% of gyms (from my exeperience) don't really work on stretching the hip flexors (that includes the quadriceps, Rectus Femoris, and to some degree the Vastus Intermedialis muscles in particular) separatelly. Generaly speaking the hip flexors are conditioned to be STRONG rather then flexible. If your daughter is really serious about improving her squareness Do try and get your daughter to do the exercise i recommeded for 4 weeks, 4-5times a week, for 3x30sec per leg with 20sec rest between sets (if she has time and the training attitude try to do 3x1min by the fourth week, so increase the time by about 10 sec or so each week). I am confident that as long as she really works hard at it and focuses on trying to hold a square split rather then just to do any split she will achieve great results by the end of the 4 weeks. When she stretches she should always be trying to push herslef to the point of absolute pain threshold. This means she should be able to tolerate the pain but unfortunately it will/has to hurt (this is because flexibility improvements (passive in particular) is a result of improved pain tolerance)

There is however 1 point to mention and that is that perfect squareness is not achieveable by everyone, due to variations in morphology. But very good results are achieveable by virtually all kids.
 
Last edited:
B

BlairBob

Guest
I've heard the laying on stomach and testing shoulder flexibility also is testing the shoulder strength. Just something to remember.

I have seen it done by laying on your back on a heightened surface and then measuring the distance or angle. It's imperative to make sure the back doesn't arch to create a bigger angle. I think I saw this in a video with Gina Pongetti ( I've been really digging her clinics, articles, and what not lately ).
 

Tumblequeensmom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2007
1,453
Valentin... thanks so much! She has been frustrated the last 2 years by her "lack of squareness"!! I'm going to print out your suggestions and show them to her.... thanks again!

-Lynn
 
G

gym-monkey

Guest
back walkover help ??

ok... first of all i can stand and go into backbend but i cant kick out of it i dont know were im going wrong i have a trampoline with a safety net on it i sit with my feet facing the safety net and puch up to bridge i put my left leg on the net and puchoff with it i then kick my right leg over its he only way i can get my backwalkover started any suggestion on how i can progress from this and in time complete an un-aided backwalkover ???:confused::confused:

thanks:)
gym-monkey
 

Valentin

Coach
Coach
Nov 12, 2007
376
USA
Hi

I dont know your situation bu the reasons why you can't kick over are mostl likely because
1- Your shoulders aren't flexible enough (you have a poor bridge position)
2- When you do go back onto your hands your supporting leg needs to be as close your hands as you ca get it
3- You are not kicking your first leg over and or pushing through the supporting leg, and or pushing your shoulders (armpits) over your hands towards the direction you are going

I am not going to comment on the correct execution of going back into the walkover as that should be your coaches job, but what you can do to help you get there is
1- Start doing bridge kickovers with your feet elevated..so like start with your feet on something like 36inch high mat/s then once you are capable of doing 10 out of 10 in a row, lower the height to like 26inch and repeat learning process, and then again and again until you are from the floor in a bridge able to kickover.

Then you can work doing the full walkover down an incline mat...then reduce the incline with practice and then you are ready to do it.
These are just quick little tips/progressions. Check with your coach on techique and form as they can see you doing it and should be able to point out common form errors. If you post video for a more correct technical help


Valentin
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads