Back bending is one of the most challenging areas of the flexibility arts. The spine is an extremely complex structure consisting of bones, cartilage, connective tissue, and tons of nerves. You are essentially bending your brain’s tail. Back bending is also special because most of the flexibility gains come from shortening the muscles of your back. Most flexibility training focuses on lengthening muscles. That is why back bending feels so different than other types of stretching and why it requires a specialized, primarily active (strength-based) approach. For ideas on strength-based spinal

There are two different ways that we can measure our flexibility in any joint: active flexibility and passive flexibility. It is important to know the difference between them and how to use them to achieve your flexibility goals. Active Flexibility Active flexibility is the amount that we can use our own muscles to move into an end range position. So if I want to lengthen my hamstrings and the back of my leg, my active flexibility would be the amount that I could use my hip flexors to bring my leg closer to

When I tell humans out in the world what I do I’m often asked—usually after a glum confession to being “the tightest person in the world”—what a person needs to do to get more flexible. It’s funny, because people don’t usually ask that about how to get stronger, or how to get faster, or better at a sport. But flexibility is still cloaked in mystery. The old school approach to flexibility, suffering in a stretch until you get sick of it and give up, is understandably unpopular and lots of people

When I first injured my right shoulder in 2010 I joined the ranks of circus performers, acrobats, dancers, and athletes with shoulder injuries. I was bummed out, but far from alone. It is one of the most common sites for pain and injury for anyone who engages in vigorous upper body activities from aerial arts to lifting groceries out of the trunk. And it’s no wonder. Shoulders are a complicated piece of equipment and, even though most of us have them, they didn’t come with an instruction manual. When I started

Middle splits can be beastly. Often we push too far too fast, going past our body’s limits without the proper strength and control. Sometimes this means that we just hate middle splits, but it can also lead to pain and injury if we push too hard. One of the most common places to feel pain from middle splits is in the knee joint. There are a few common reasons why this position can have a profound effect on the knees: 1. A lot of folks do not have strong knees when they are