Getting back into MA and having big flexibility issues...

spawn2031

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Hi guys, so lemme give you some quick back story on me to put things into perspective. I am 44 years old, spent a lot of time in my mid - late 20s learning Chinese Kenpo. I've always had some issues with throwing a good side kick like my hips dont seem to want to let me legs go straight out. My instructor wasnt worried about it b/c I if changed the angle just slightly it was fine and it never impacted anything else.

Now fast forward almost 20 years, I've been horribly inactive, had a desk job for the past 5 years. I just got my kids into TKD and decided to take it with them b/c I'm sick of the life I'd been living and wanted to feel better and get fit again. OMG... the lack of flexibility for side kicks, roundhouse (wheel) kicks, butterfly stretches, is insanely poor. If I sit down and try to spread my legs out as far to the left and right as I can, I can get maybe 35 - 40 degrees between them before it feels like I just cant push it any further. Many of the stretches that I have read about to train for side splits hit the areas that I am in need of work on but I am so far from where I need to be on them that they are almost ineffective. When I do manage to get a decently wide stance for a horse stance, I can feel my hips popping sometimes. I know you guys aren't doctors or anything but I'm hoping for some insight on how to push past this safely and regain my flexibility. I really want to continue in my training.

Thanks ahead of time for any pointers / suggestions. Any and all are welcome.
 

jobo

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Hi guys, so lemme give you some quick back story on me to put things into perspective. I am 44 years old, spent a lot of time in my mid - late 20s learning Chinese Kenpo. I've always had some issues with throwing a good side kick like my hips dont seem to want to let me legs go straight out. My instructor wasnt worried about it b/c I if changed the angle just slightly it was fine and it never impacted anything else.

Now fast forward almost 20 years, I've been horribly inactive, had a desk job for the past 5 years. I just got my kids into TKD and decided to take it with them b/c I'm sick of the life I'd been living and wanted to feel better and get fit again. OMG... the lack of flexibility for side kicks, roundhouse (wheel) kicks, butterfly stretches, is insanely poor. If I sit down and try to spread my legs out as far to the left and right as I can, I can get maybe 35 - 40 degrees between them before it feels like I just cant push it any further. Many of the stretches that I have read about to train for side splits hit the areas that I am in need of work on but I am so far from where I need to be on them that they are almost ineffective. When I do manage to get a decently wide stance for a horse stance, I can feel my hips popping sometimes. I know you guys aren't doctors or anything but I'm hoping for some insight on how to push past this safely and regain my flexibility. I really want to continue in my training.

Thanks ahead of time for any pointers / suggestions. Any and all are welcome.
well been there and stil am to some degree, if you weren't very flexible at 22, then 20 years of tendons shortening themselves wont have helped much, as such im not sure tkd is the wisest choice.

if your looking for reassurance that you can improve then ye you most certainly can, but in my experience its a long slow and mostly painful journey, i managed to stop my shoulder popping out if i went for full range of motion after about 6 months of pain so bad that i was losing consciousness, my hips are another story, they are so much more flexible now than they were 3 years ago, but tkd, never in a month of sundays am i doing a head kick


as to your horse stance , though a rope around something and do your horse stance move through the pain to the left and right and get lower and lower and they will SLOWLY ease up. in fact nearly all my stretching involves throwing a rope round something or other
 

dvcochran

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Stretching is very much a process that is easier for some than others. The best advice I can give you is to stretch every day, regardless of how much/long. It doesn't have to be a big formal process like you may do at the beginning of class. You can simply pick out the stretches you have the most trouble with and work on them. One thing I cannot stress enough its to get warm and get the blood pumping before doing any hard stretching. Dynamic (usually standing) stretching is the best way to start. Knee raises, lazy front/crescent kicks, soft punches/blocks, etc.... anything to get the blood pumping and working on range of motion.
I did not see how long you have been working out but know it typically takes a minimum of a year to see 'good' increase in flexibility. It will ebb and tide for a time as you work through natural muscle soreness and increase stretch in the joints and ligaments/tendons.
When I was a green belt (in TKD) I was very discouraged with my stretch to the point I was ready to quit. I decided if I did not see marked improvements in 6 months I was done. I started stretching every day and worked out 3 days a week. After a couple of months of daily stretching I could feel improvement more than I could see it.
I hope you hang in there. Keep in touch and let us know how things go.
 

Brian King

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Hmmm, for a different perspective, I want to first congratulate you on not only getting your youngsters involved but joining them on the trail. How many and how old are they? You are going to be sharing some wonderful times with them, times that they will remember. Such lessons you will be able to apply to their lives as you share those lessons in training. Dad points!
The different perspective I would offer is, don't focus about your lack of flexibility rather focus on that your giving your kids a life lessons on how to deal with things you are not so good at, how to fail, how to keep going. They do not expect you to be able to do everything, HERO status will be earned by your being able to laugh at yourself while striving to improve, not so much by achieving your physical goal what ever that might be but by the striving towards it.
Take your time stretching, show your youngsters that you are keeping the trail and striving to get better, slowly. Praise them for being able to do things that youngsters can do. Get them involved in helping motivate you and your training. Get them to physically help you. Make it a tribe thing. Involve them on and off the mat.

Regards
Brian King
 

Gweilo

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Ditto on what Brian and dvcochran says, with the addition that becareful with the squats/frog splits etc, at 44 and some years of inactivity, you enter the realm of ligament damage especially mensical tears, which can put you out for weeks if not months, so ditto on the warm up, take your time and enjoy.
 
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spawn2031

spawn2031

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Hey guys! Thanks for the responses!

well been there and stil am to some degree, if you weren't very flexible at 22, then 20 years of tendons shortening themselves wont have helped much, as such im not sure tkd is the wisest choice.

Yeah TKD wasn't my first choice but being that I live in a very small town, both dojos are TKD so not a ton of options. Honestly, the driving factor in picking this school was for my kids anyway. Me joining was an after thought once I knew they were liking it. I am glad to hear that you have seen marked improvement in your hips after 3 years. Hopefully it doesn't take that long for me to see some improvement. I am not looking to do wildly flashy kicks, I'll be happy if I can just kick at belt level.

Stretching is very much a process that is easier for some than others. The best advice I can give you is to stretch every day, regardless of how much/long. It doesn't have to be a big formal process like you may do at the beginning of class. You can simply pick out the stretches you have the most trouble with and work on them. One thing I cannot stress enough its to get warm and get the blood pumping before doing any hard stretching. Dynamic (usually standing) stretching is the best way to start. Knee raises, lazy front/crescent kicks, soft punches/blocks, etc.... anything to get the blood pumping and working on range of motion.
I did not see how long you have been working out but know it typically takes a minimum of a year to see 'good' increase in flexibility. It will ebb and tide for a time as you work through natural muscle soreness and increase stretch in the joints and ligaments/tendons.
When I was a green belt (in TKD) I was very discouraged with my stretch to the point I was ready to quit. I decided if I did not see marked improvements in 6 months I was done. I started stretching every day and worked out 3 days a week. After a couple of months of daily stretching I could feel improvement more than I could see it.
I hope you hang in there. Keep in touch and let us know how things go.

Thank you for this. This, besides the warm up, is pretty much what I am trying to do. I havent been back at it for long, just a couple months but I definitely see the ebb and flow of it. Some days I feel like I'm improving, others I feel even less flexible. It is frustrating for certain. I will definitely incorporate the warm up before stretching though, it makes sense. I'm no quitter and am bound and determined to see this thru to the best of my abilities. Especially since this whole thing is more about life lessons, confidence and character building for my kids than anything else and I certainly do not want them to see Daddy quit.... fail? Sure, I'll fail and get back right back on the horse. Quit... never.

Hmmm, for a different perspective, I want to first congratulate you on not only getting your youngsters involved but joining them on the trail. How many and how old are they? You are going to be sharing some wonderful times with them, times that they will remember. Such lessons you will be able to apply to their lives as you share those lessons in training. Dad points!
The different perspective I would offer is, don't focus about your lack of flexibility rather focus on that your giving your kids a life lessons on how to deal with things you are not so good at, how to fail, how to keep going. They do not expect you to be able to do everything, HERO status will be earned by your being able to laugh at yourself while striving to improve, not so much by achieving your physical goal what ever that might be but by the striving towards it.
Take your time stretching, show your youngsters that you are keeping the trail and striving to get better, slowly. Praise them for being able to do things that youngsters can do. Get them involved in helping motivate you and your training. Get them to physically help you. Make it a tribe thing. Involve them on and off the mat.

Thank you as well Brian. They are brother and sister, 4 and 5 and the life lessons are by far the primary reason I decided to get them into this. I remember the change it made in me in my 20s and I wanted that same confidence and character building for them as well. I will definitely remember your words as well. Trying to remember to focus on the path ahead instead of the frustration of not being able to do when I feel I should be able to is sometimes hard to do. I love the idea of trying to involve them with helping me stretch. With them being so young, it might be difficult but I'm sure I can think of some way.

Ditto on what Brian and dvcochran says, with the addition that becareful with the squats/frog splits etc, at 44 and some years of inactivity, you enter the realm of ligament damage especially mensical tears, which can put you out for weeks if not months, so ditto on the warm up, take your time and enjoy.

Yes, I am taking it very slowly and trying to be as careful as I can. In fact, yesterday after posting this, I set up a chiropractor appointment to have him give my hips a once over and see if there's anything that has developed over the years that might be complicating things. I guess one of the things that makes it hard to remember to take it slow is the fact that no one else in the class has even close to these flexibility issues but then again... I'm the oldest one in there!! I feel like the frog splits are the exact stretch that I can work with since I can let gravity slowly pull me into position, but.. right now, I just look like I'm bowing to Buddah instead of stretching! lol

Once again, thank you very much guys for your suggestions. I will keep them all in mind as I work though this in any way that I can.
 

Brian King

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Welcome to martial talk. I hope that you will stick around. We have a sister and brother 4 & 6 but neither is yet training. They have special needs that are being addressed, so hopefully someday.

Regards
Brian King
 

Hanshi

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I second the advice to warm up thoroughly before doing any stretching at all. Another thing is do not overdo it. By that I mean do not stretch to the point of pain in a specific area of the tendon; stretching should never be that painful. Over doing it can result in a permanent ligament/tendon tear and a shortening of the tendon or ligament thereby worsening your flexibility. Stretch gently up to mild discomfort and DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. I usually recommend holding a stretch for a few minutes. Your muscles will slowly relax enabling you to maybe go a bit further. Stretch as often as possible, and remember it is a SLOW process. Another thing, extreme flexibility is not that necessary or important. Kicking high is more sport technique than real world kicking. I've been in the martial arts for more than 59 years. Yet I was around 40 before I could do a full split! That's no longer possible for me but I remain much more flexible than most people quite a bit younger than my 73 years. Be careful and good luck.
 

jobo

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I second the advice to warm up thoroughly before doing any stretching at all. Another thing is do not overdo it. By that I mean do not stretch to the point of pain in a specific area of the tendon; stretching should never be that painful. Over doing it can result in a permanent ligament/tendon tear and a shortening of the tendon or ligament thereby worsening your flexibility. Stretch gently up to mild discomfort and DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. I usually recommend holding a stretch for a few minutes. Your muscles will slowly relax enabling you to maybe go a bit further. Stretch as often as possible, and remember it is a SLOW process. Another thing, extreme flexibility is not that necessary or important. Kicking high is more sport technique than real world kicking. I've been in the martial arts for more than 59 years. Yet I was around 40 before I could do a full split! That's no longer possible for me but I remain much more flexible than most people quite a bit younger than my 73 years. Be careful and good luck.
TENDONS DO NOT STRETCH the only way to lengthen them is to tear them, though on a microscopic level, not literally tear them in two, which is indeed a bad idea
 
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spawn2031

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Another thing, extreme flexibility is not that necessary or important. Kicking high is more sport technique than real world kicking. I've been in the martial arts for more than 59 years. Yet I was around 40 before I could do a full split! That's no longer possible for me but I remain much more flexible than most people quite a bit younger than my 73 years. Be careful and good luck.

I just ran into exactly what you mean regarding the technique. I'll do my best to describe what I ran into last night at class. In practice, the roundhouse kick was what was really suffering in technique. My side kicks, as in my OP, I can throw but I always had to shift so that my plant foot was pointing away from my target by about 45 degrees when I extended my leg out. I thought this was WRONG and was just my way of getting past a limitation. According to my new instructors, that's exactly how your plant foot is supposed to be which means that my roundhouse kicks is just a matter of applying a different technique to the way I throw a side kick, which I can throw at belt level. It's not perfect, at the apex of the round house kick my toes are pointing slightly down instead of straight but I feel like it's a helluva improvement... without having to train forever to do the splits. I'm still not as flexible as I would like to be and I am still going to have the chiropractor check things out... sure cant hurt. Needless to say I was quite happy after finding this out.
 

pdg

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I always had to shift so that my plant foot was pointing away from my target by about 45 degrees when I extended my leg out. I thought this was WRONG and was just my way of getting past a limitation. According to my new instructors, that's exactly how your plant foot is supposed to be which means that my roundhouse kicks is just a matter of applying a different technique to the way I throw a side kick

Turning your foot that's on the ground is the right thing to do, except for stuff like a front snap kick.

Turning kicks (roundhouse), side kicks and the like - get that support foot spun with the kick. Even as far as your heel pointing at the target is good - way better than thinking your toes should still be pointing that way.
 

dvcochran

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I second the advice to warm up thoroughly before doing any stretching at all. Another thing is do not overdo it. By that I mean do not stretch to the point of pain in a specific area of the tendon; stretching should never be that painful. Over doing it can result in a permanent ligament/tendon tear and a shortening of the tendon or ligament thereby worsening your flexibility. Stretch gently up to mild discomfort and DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. I usually recommend holding a stretch for a few minutes. Your muscles will slowly relax enabling you to maybe go a bit further. Stretch as often as possible, and remember it is a SLOW process. Another thing, extreme flexibility is not that necessary or important. Kicking high is more sport technique than real world kicking. I've been in the martial arts for more than 59 years. Yet I was around 40 before I could do a full split! That's no longer possible for me but I remain much more flexible than most people quite a bit younger than my 73 years. Be careful and good luck.
73. Very, very cool. Great to have you on the forum.
 

dvcochran

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TENDONS DO NOT STRETCH the only way to lengthen them is to tear them, though on a microscopic level, not literally tear them in two, which is indeed a bad idea
I found this on the MIT.edu website and thought you may find it interesting.
"The resistance to lengthening that is offered by a muscle is dependent upon its connective tissues: When the muscle elongates, the surrounding connective tissues become more taut (see section Connective Tissue). Also, inactivity of certain muscles or joints can cause chemical changes in connective tissue which restrict flexibility. "
Apparently, while they are not supposed to elongate beyond their norm, they can loose flexibility/elasticity.
STRETCHING AND FLEXIBILITY - Flexibility
 

jobo

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I found this on the MIT.edu website and thought you may find it interesting.
"The resistance to lengthening that is offered by a muscle is dependent upon its connective tissues: When the muscle elongates, the surrounding connective tissues become more taut (see section Connective Tissue). Also, inactivity of certain muscles or joints can cause chemical changes in connective tissue which restrict flexibility. "
Apparently, while they are not supposed to elongate beyond their norm, they can loose flexibility/elasticity.
STRETCHING AND FLEXIBILITY - Flexibility
THANKS THAT'S A VERY SUCCINCT SUMMARY,

WHAT I'VE PICKED UP FROM THAT IS A POINT I'VE MADE MANY TIMES AND PEOPLE USUALLY VERCIVERLY ARGUE WITH ME, TO THE POINT THAT I CANT BE BOTHERED MAKING IT ANY MORE ( SORRY CAP LOCK ON) which is that flexibility training needs to be tied in with bodybuilding exercises to strengthen and increase the size of the muscle and connective tissue ( and alter the chemical make up of such) and that flexibility training on its own can have the undesirable effect of weakening and over stretching connective tissue making the joint unstable

which is possibly why so many people on here have bad knees
 
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spawn2031

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THANKS THAT'S A VERY SUCCINCT SUMMARY,

WHAT I'VE PICKED UP FROM THAT IS A POINT I'VE MADE MANY TIMES AND PEOPLE USUALLY VERCIVERLY ARGUE WITH ME, TO THE POINT THAT I CANT BE BOTHERED MAKING IT ANY MORE ( SORRY CAP LOCK ON) which is that flexibility training needs to be tied in with bodybuilding exercises to strengthen and increase the size of the muscle and connective tissue ( and alter the chemical make up of such) and that flexibility training on its own can have the undesirable effect of weakening and over stretching connective tissue making the joint unstable

which is possibly why so many people on here have bad knees

That kind of makes sense, the more material there is, the further it can be elongated. That's definitely not a view point that I've ever heard before. Either way though, strength training along with flexibility training just seems to go hand in hand IMO. I'd certainly want both.
 

jobo

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That kind of makes sense, the more material there is, the further it can be elongated. That's definitely not a view point that I've ever heard before. Either way though, strength training along with flexibility training just seems to go hand in hand IMO. I'd certainly want both.

many ma seem to have an irrational fear of '' body building' thinking it will steal their speed and flexibility ( and if then don't do speed and flexibility training it may) just as many bodybuilders have an irrational fear of cardio, thinking it may steal their muscles,( which if they start running a marathon a month it just might )
 
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spawn2031

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So, update here.... got seen by the chiropractor last week. Seems that my hips have rotated so that they are not perfectly square anymore when viewed from the front and I have some degeneration in the sockets. Not horrible, but it's there. I am still stretching all the time and constantly on the look for new stretches that target those specific areas. I have been making progress but it is slow for sure.
 

jobo

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So, update here.... got seen by the chiropractor last week. Seems that my hips have rotated so that they are not perfectly square anymore when viewed from the front and I have some degeneration in the sockets. Not horrible, but it's there. I am still stretching all the time and constantly on the look for new stretches that target those specific areas. I have been making progress but it is slow for sure.
well in that case id lay off the stretches and do remedial exercises to get your hips back in to line. if the issues is causing your hips to bite, then no amount of stretching is going to move bone on bone and may haisten the degeneration in the hips.

there's any amount of resources available on how to fix anterior pelvic tilt, which is the most common issue and posterior tilt if your unusual
 
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spawn2031

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well in that case id lay off the stretches and do remedial exercises to get your hips back in to line. if the issues is causing your hips to bite, then no amount of stretching is going to move bone on bone and may haisten the degeneration in the hips

The Dr seems pretty confident that it's something that he can adjust and fix thank god and has told me to keep as active as possible, keep stretching and do warm Epsom salt soaks for 10 mins a day. I've got 3 adjustments a week for the next 3 weeks. Well see how things go!
 

jobo

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The Dr seems pretty confident that it's something that he can adjust and fix thank god and has told me to keep as active as possible, keep stretching and do warm Epsom salt soaks for 10 mins a day. I've got 3 adjustments a week for the next 3 weeks. Well see how things go!
id be very dubious that he can adjust it, with out you doing regular exercises to strengthen what ever isn't strong enough to hold alignment and at the same time making significant changes to your posture to keep it there. but if you do that it will self adjust

but on the other hand, at his hourly rate id be tempted to give it ago as well if i were him
 

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