Five years ago I wrote a blog post titled The Curse of the Bendy Lower Back that laid out many of the difficulties facing people with a naturally bendy lumbar spine. One of the most unpleasant consequences is shortened, weak, painful hip flexor muscles. This phenomenon has been well documented. In 1979 Dr Vladimir Janda coined the term “Lower Crossed Syndrome” to describe the postural condition where the back arches and the pelvis tilts forward. This results from and further contributes to tight muscles in the lower back and the front

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

One of the most common misconceptions about training is that you cannot train to be strong and flexible at the same time. This isn’t true. Just watch any luminaries of circus, gymnastics, or yoga and they will demonstrate a gorgeous combination of strength and flexibility, which is necessary in any of those disciplines.   The training method that makes this combination possible is active stretching. Active stretching means using your own muscles to move your body into your end range of motion. It feels more like a strength-building exercise than a traditional stretch

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

  It is possible to stretch your shoulders without pain, pinching, or compromising the strength and integrity of the shoulder joint. This range of motions is necessary for a whole host of activities that require you to bring your arms overhead including weight lifting, handstands, aerial arts, yoga, and contortion… and just getting a plate off a high shelf! Pinching or pain in the shoulder joint is often caused by sub-optimal shoulder alignment. When the bones aren’t in the right place you can create compression in the shoulder socket which can, over