Tag Archives: Stretch

Mel Collie | Necking It

Heres what I used to do for my tight neck muscles – get them stretched…

Did they need stretching often ? yes…were they always tight? yes…

Why? Computer..stress..anxiety…forward head posture, clenched jaw..all that stuff means tight upper neck muscles.

Was I fed up with it..not really, after all it was my own fault right?   I knew what to stretch though, so I stretched them, I just told myself off for spending too much time on that computer

Is that you too? Hell yes I bet it is!

Years and years later…still stretching?

Here we go – the tight muscles are telling you a story, and you’ve just read it in a different language.

For all that time…

Remember the yellow fish in Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy?

I got me one of those fish when I started to understand the WHY

I began to understand the language

I stopped chasing the pain and looked elsewhere

What was that pain telling me? Tight muscles, overworking, tired, fed up, pissed off neck muscles.

Why?

Switched off core muscles…even though I’m a Pilates instructor, my abs were NOT working in a correct pattern.

When tested using NKT (www.neurokinetictherapy.com) my Psoas (hip flexor) TA (Transversus Abs) and Rectus Abs were unorganised…thats my polite way of saying they were inhibited. Their pattern of working was all jumbled up.

My left shoulder hikes up when I’m stressed, its been like that forever, it gets tight, I’m aware of it but I wasn’t aware those muscles were working to stabilise my core as well.

As soon as they were released and my Psoas and TA strengthened, stuff changed.

As soon as my Scalenes were released after testing to find they were facilitated (left more than right) and the left ones released (ouch! ) my diaphragm went whooosshhh…and my breathing was lighter.

Oh yes, the diaphragm is a commonly facilitated muscle too, you can practice deep breathing , but for some of us, it wont “let go” if its compensating.

I love testing core muscles when a client compensates by clinching jaw or breath holding, its a common cheat, and tells a story – do you do core work at the gym or in your Pilates class with a clenched jaw and no breathing for those tricky repetitions?

Want to stop that and do the same exercises with good form (check your neck position, if you need a towel under your head to keep it neutral, then use one or you are using your neck to stabilise , not your core)and breathe out with your mouth open, and eyes open, don’t close those eyes, that just means you are searching the brain for answers when it cant find your core muscles to do the work. Bet you are clenching the jaw and toes too …

Get yourself assessed to find out whats inhibited and facilitated, what patterns are unorganised , you will get homework to do thats specific for your unique patterning, which will involve a stretch or a massage with a ball in a tender/tight area, but what you do that follows that release is crucial to allow that “stretch” to hold, for the brain to relearn the new pattern.

It can take up to 3,000 reps for the brain to cement a new pattern of learning…thats a LOT of reps.

Its a lot of wrong reps if you are treating the wrong pattern. Guys thats why I was stretching for years and nothing changed. I was stretching the tight and not strengthening the weak. I didn’t know my patterns were unorganised.

So yes, there you go, get assessed, you can search NKT on You Tube too, to get an idea of how it works..

You will save a lot of years of stretching and chasing pain, you are unique, find out whats working..and whats not.

Phew…

Mel

www.melcollie.com

Mel Collie | Stretching Your Thighs?

Mel Collie | Stretching Your Thighs?

I sit here at my laptop studying, reading, writing, and I do exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Crossing my legs, tilting the pelvis, shortening the quads – rectus femurs mainly – front of the thigh.

You know what though?

Theres no perfect seated posture! yay!! Stop sitting up straight!

I’m so happy about that because I can be such a fidget. I hate sitting still, well, for too long anyway. I will sit still when I am meditating, or watching a really good movie.

I sat still watching About Time last week, such a sad movie, a bit cheesy, but I adore Bill Nighy! He’s a great actor, but I also love that he is very rarely in the celebrity limelight. He is just himself.

So, anyway, back to those hips – which Bill sways quite nicely in the film by the way when he does a little dance, but also when he’s playing Table tennis.

Tightness, and restriction in your hips can create tightness in the lumber spine, and further up the chain, affecting the head position too. No hip sway, more lower back and shoulder compensation.

So when you stretch the thigh, what happens?

The thigh muscles, the quadriceps – theres 4 of them – one of them attaches at the knee and runs up the front of the thigh to your hip bone. Hip flexor and hip extender.

It can affect the knee as well, but thats for another post as theres other things that can affect the knee like limited ankle mobility and side thigh muscles like Tensor Fascia Lata .

Tightness can affect the knee and pelvis when walking, running, walking up and down stairs.

It can also inhibit the hamstrings from doing their thing and compress the hip joint which can in turn inhibit the glutes.

Pretty amazing muscles then aren’t they?

Stretching:

If you are used to stretching it by holding the ankle, have a look in the mirror and see whatyou do this what happens to the rest of your body

Shoulder must be level

Hips must be level

Knees must also be level

Problems:

Common issues are that the shoulders change position

The ribs lift

The breathing changes, usually gets held

The knees change position, usually the knee thats being stretched moves forward.

Corrections:

Use a band around the bottom of the leg to assist you until you feel you can stretch the quads without affecting any compensational movement patterns in your body, the first picture is how not to do it, and how I see it done often though.

Standing Rec Fem stretch when knees aren't together, missing the stretch of the hip and affecting shoulder levels
Standing Rec Fem stretch when knees aren’t together, missing the stretch of the hip and affecting shoulder levels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stretch of Rec Fem using the band, keeping knees level.
Stretch of Rec Fem using the band, keeping knees level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heres what I mean lying down on your front- as long as you keep your pelvic bone ON the floor, if you don’t, your pelvis will be arching and your lower back gets tight. Don’t hold your breath as you stretch. When you lie on your front you can use the surface as feedback for your breath, breathe in press the belly out into the floor/mat, exhale as you gently draw it in.

Rec Fem Stretch Prone.
Stretching the Rectus Femurs on your front – prone – with a band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melanie Collie is an anatomist and movement therapist who specialise in helping clients out of pain and back into a life of loving movement again. Her studio is where you usually find her with her bands, balls, and circles, mats, circles, weights and TRX. She calls it her torture chamber, her clients call it their little haven.

www.melcollie.com

Mel Collie | How to Stretch a tight Psoas

Mel Collie | How to Stretch a tight Psoas

Have you got a tight Psoas ? Most of us do, but as we are all different, some of us have a tight Psoas and some of us have a weaker one, but..how do you know? You can tell by the tilt of your pelvis, however, the tricky bit is that if your pelvis is tilted forward, your Psoas may well be tight, but it could also be weak too, so if you do stretch it, you could find that is the last thing it wants, and end up with a whole host o other compensations, and a very pissed off hip flexor.

So, enough of this anatomy speak, where is it that pesky Psoas anyway?

At the base of your ribs where they meet the lumbar spine, so thats T12 (the 12th rib of your thoracic spine) , all the way down to L5, thats the last vertebrae of your lumbar spine.Heres a lovely picture for all you visual people, (thats me!)

It then attaches to a little notch at the inside top end of the femur, thats called the Lesser Trochanter, because its small than the Greater Trochanter which is on the outer edge of the femur , clever eh! Some smart cookie knew what to call that bit of the thigh bone.

The Psoas attaches the upper body to the lower body. Flexes the femur, thats your thigh bone,the  longest bone in the body, at the hip joint.You are flexing your thigh when you are bending your knee. Some of us lose this skill and tend to use the lower back instead, thats when we can get problems with lower back pain. Too much lower back, not enough hip stuff going on.

Psoas - is it tight? Does it need stretching?
Psoas – is it tight? Does it need stretching?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stretching that long Psoas can create an imbalance in a structure thats tight for a reason. Even if you’ve been told you have a weak Psoas, it can also be strong…weird isn’t it, but true.Took me a while to get m head around that one, and I still spend time thinking on how that actually works…

So, maybe its holding on, as in its tight, because something else in the pattern of your movement isn’t awake, isn’t doing its job, thats called inhibition, a muscle thats not doing its job is inhibited, its shying away from standing up to its responsibility.

If the Psoas has been diagnosed as being tight, it may be inhibited, but it may also be facilitated, that means it has high tone, it may just be overworking to stabilise a structure.

As a pattern detective, I look for the relationship of the Psoas to other muscles in its surrounding group it belong to.

The abdominals

The diaphragm

The neck

The glutes

The quadrates lumborum (what a GREAT name! I LOVE that name!)

The hamstrings

 

Pattern detectiveness (is that a word? is now!) means I look for a relationship between Psoas and other muscles, to see how they work together.

Its fun, surprising and humbling.

It means I leave my “oh, it should be doing that!” head at home, and have an open mind, listen to the body and hear what its telling me.

Uniqueness is a beauty

The body is a creative genius!

So, in answer to the question thats the title of this blog post, how to stretch a tight Psoas…you don’t!

I am a real meanie in the eyes of other fitness instructors, because Im going against the grain, and I will not teach a Psoas stretch to a client or in a Pilates/Fitness class, until I know that is what it needs, and that means you have to be assessed. Sorry fitness peeps out there! I actually want my clients to get great results and have no pain, that means working the right muscles in the right way!

Stop stretching it, and get your patterns detected by an NKT specialist. Im in training for level 1 right now, what a voyage of discovery it is too my friend.

http://neurokinetictherapy.com

Mel Collie

Pattern Detective in Training!