Flexibility tips and Tricks

Welcome to flexibility tips and tricks with Rochelle! This is where I write about flexibility drills, exercises, and general stretching thoughts. I hope you enjoy! Sign up here to get these posts via email!

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Side balance, y scale, whatever you call it! I love this skill so much! I just love any sort of leg pose/exercise. Not only can this skill be done standing, but it transfers frequently to aerial, pole, dance, and other disciplines.



Even though it is in the name, balance is such an important part of this skill. I have seen so many people who totally have the flexibility and strength to do this skill, but their stabilization and balance in the standing foot is rough. And the foot is the base of this move...if the base is wobbly and weak, the rest of the body will have no support. Therefore, practicing balance exercises are super beneficial for side balance. The leg off the floor doesn't have to be high up either...the leg can be low and the emphasis should be placed on keeping the weight in the ball of the standing foot.


~Glutes, yas~

I feel like I am glutes' number one fan...I think they are so incredibly important for side balance! The glutes help make sure the leg actually stays side, and doesn't start to creep forward. A very common thing that happens with side balance is we lift our leg up and instead of the leg being truly side, we start to rotate the hips diagonal, making the leg actually be forward. This is deceiving though, because the torso is still facing the front...so we are just super twisted in the hips and spine and we are not able to activate the correct muscles. So the glutes are very important in making the hips stay facing front, helping the leg to actually be to the side of us, versus being too forward.


~"Rochelle, I am not a ground performer, I do not need this skill!"~

Chill, chill, chill, yes I see that point...however, I would like to counter with this: in many disciplines, there is some sort of variation of a side balance. Aerial, pole, acrobatics, and many other disciplines have side balance in them. And yes, maybe you are not standing on the ground doing the skill, but you are doing a variation of it in the air. In aerial, you are constantly grabbing a leg and extending it side. So being able to do this skill on the ground will transfer so nicely to the air. I think that doing this skill on the ground is more challenging than how it is in the air, and this is because of the balance aspect: so many more of the stabilization muscles are working on the ground to help with balance. Then, when it transfers to off the ground, it will be a breeze!


~5 essential exercises to help you achieve your side balance~

There are lots of different stretches/exercises you can do for your side balance. These are 5

exercises that I find essential in making your side balance feel phenomenal! For these drills, make sure the legs, hips, and hamstrings are super warm! If you need any stretches to help you warm up, I have so many videos to help with that on my Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility

  1. Balancing on one leg opposite leg side, low: stand on one leg, and lift the other leg up to the side low. Allow that standing foot to be alive while keeping the rest of the body completely still. Practice holding this position for 10-20 seconds.

  2. Leg lifts, leg bent: lifting the leg to the side, bent. I like doing this with bent leg, so you can focus on glute and hip engagement. Once the leg is straight, sometimes the quad will overcompensate and do all of the work.

  3. Side balance on wall: this is great for understanding the correct body position for side balance. Important to not sit in the standing hip while doing this!

  4. Standing side kicks: we all know, I love kicks! These are so great to do to help build the strength needed for side balance. Make sure both hips stay facing the front while doing the side kicks.

  5. Attitude swings: right from ballet class, attitude swings are great for really getting the hip warm for side balance. Practice doing 16 attitude swings on each side.


~"But Rochelle, I need to see you do these drills"~

And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )

and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining all 5 of these drills!


I hope these 5 drills help you with achieving your side balance/y scale! Let me know if you have any questions! Remember to check out my subscription page on Vimeo for more flexibility videos!


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The most asked for skill! Whether it be in split, lunge, or pigeon, I get this skill request all the time! Here are 5 exercises to help you achieve hand to foot!


~What is this "hand to foot" you speak of?~

Hand to foot is the skill of grabbing your leg behind you in one go...but why is this so important? Whether you dance, do aerial, pole, contortion, hand balancing, or anything else, hand to foot is a way to make transitions look seamless. Have you ever watched a performance, and everything about it looked fluid and effortless? You felt so comfortable and at ease watching...those are the best acts ever! A huge part as to how those acts look so effortless is the fluidity of transitions and movements/skills. And that is exactly what hand to foot is...when we can reach back and grab the leg in one movement, we eliminate the clunky/awkwardness that this movement could be, and instead make it look seamless and effortless. Therefore, I find this hand to foot skill super valuable for performers of all kinds!


~"lol Rochelle, I am nowhere near getting this skill"

Chill, super okay! I know this might be a skill that you are not even remotely thinking about trying! And that is totally okay! What I love about this skill, is that it is such a test of your true active flexibility in so many different body parts...shoulders, back, glutes, and hip flexors. I know it is defeating sometimes to practice things we are not good at...I am super guilty of that! I love practicing skills I am great at! And this is a super challenging skill that is sometimes hard to feel "good" at...but, like I said above, it is a super beneficial skill to have for performing and also a great active flexibility skill to practice!

~5 essential exercises for the hand to foot~

Hand to foot requires flexibility and strength in many different parts of the body: shoulders, back, hips, and hamstrings...with that being said, I think there are so many stretches that can benefit the hand to foot skill...however these 5 that I have listed below, are what I have found to be most beneficial to my students. If you need help warming up before you try these five exercises, check out my flexibility videos on my website: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility

**Side note: I find that this skill is very beneficial to have a coach for...there is so much happening/going on with the body that it can be frustrating and the smallest adjustment can make a big difference. I am always available for privates if you need coaching through this skill!**

  1. Arm circles: using a theraband, keep arms straight and rotate them forward and back. I see this skill used as a warm up for so many disciplines. Make sure you are doing these with correct technique and they can be so beneficial!

  2. Bending of the arms, behind the head: The actual bending of the arm behind the head is where many people run into trouble with hand to foot. Practice doing this with both arms at the same time, that way they can push against each other a bit for support.

  3. Straightening arm with straightening of the leg (band): wrap a theraband around the foot (can be in pigeon, lunge, or split). Holding the band with opposite arm, straighten the leg back and pull the arm with you. So yummy!

  4. Keeping arm straight with bent leg: same exercise as above, but once the leg and arm are straight back, try to keep the arm where it is and only bend the leg. Great glute and lat strength exercise!

  5. Wall split (pigeon/lunge/split), arching back: because the back leg is already bent, this exercise places more emphasis on the back and shoulder. Practice arching back and trying to grab the leg here.


~"But Rochelle, I need to see you do these drills"~

And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )

and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining all 5 of these drills!

I hope these 5 drills help you with achieving your hand to foot! Let me know if you have any questions! Remember to check out my subscription page on Vimeo for more flexibility videos!


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Oversplits are a great way to push your range of motion in all three of your splits. Here are some exercises and tips for helping make your oversplits as beneficial as possible!


~Should I be stretching in oversplit?~

Knowing when to stretch oversplit vs split on the floor can be tricky. I generally think oversplits are good to do if your floor split is 12 inches or less away from the ground. If the floor split is higher than that, oversplit might not be as beneficial, mostly because you will be exerting your energy on holding yourself up in the position, instead of focusing on correct muscle engagement and alignment.


~Warm up for oversplit~

100%, yas, warming up for oversplit is essential! Even if I am having an amazing stretching day, and think I could jump into my oversplit a little faster, I still always warm up. I make sure my hip flexors, hamstrings, and back are super warm and the muscles are turned on. I also always do my splits on the ground before going into oversplit. Our bodies are beautifully complicated, and sometimes we have bad days when it comes to stretching. I would rather find out that my body is having an off day when I am stretching on the floor, vs. an oversplit.


~Oversplit height~

How high should the leg be elevated in oversplit? Phenom question Rochelle! Overspilt leg elevation is something each person has to play with. Some of us can use a yoga block for an oversplit, while others need something higher like a couch, panel mat, or stall bars. Whatever height you choose, always air on the side of the height being too short! That way you can always come out of the exercise and add more height. When we start with the leg too high, we could strain something, get discouraged and want to just stop, or we might not honestly be able to get into the stretch. Our oversplit heights are all different, so make sure you play around with choosing the height that is best for you!


~All the oversplits~

I think of oversplits divided into 3 categories...front splits, middle splits, and straddle. The most important thing about oversplit to me is the idea of continuing to move. "Sitting" in an oversplit for five minutes provides zero benefit for your active mobility. It also is dangerous because muscle engagement could be lacking, leading to possible muscle strain or injury. That is why I am always a fan of moving around in my oversplit, to make sure my muscles are still engaged, and I am able to hold myself up. I usually will be still in my oversplit for about 30-45 seconds, but never just minutes on end, "sitting" in it.

  1. Front splits: yas, we all love a good front split! We can position our leg(s) three different ways for front split oversplit: front leg oversplit, back leg oversplit, and in-between oversplit (did I say the word split enough lol?). Front leg oversplit is when the front leg in splits is elevated. This intensifies the hamstring stretch of the front leg. Back leg oversplit is when the back leg is elevated. This super intensifies the stretch of the back leg hip flexor. It also stretches and strengthen the low back, because the back has to be arched in this position. And finally, in between oversplit: this is when front and back leg are elevated. This stretches both the front and the back leg, and is such a good strength workout.

  2. Middle split: my personal favorite! For middle split oversplit, I usually only do one leg elevated. The leg that is elevated is always straight, however the leg on the ground can be bent or straight. Doing one or the other does not intensity the stretch, but purely just a personal comfort preference. I like having my bottom leg bent for this oversplit, and again, just a personal preference! You can do this oversplit with both legs elevated, I find though that I am focusing so much on just holding myself up, that I cannot properly feel a stretch or engage the correct muscles.

  3. Straddle: super beneficial oversplit to have, especially if you are an aerialist, pole dancer, or handbalancer. The amount of times one straddles up in these disciplines is insane, so having a super mobile and strong straddle is important. For straddle oversplit, I mainly focus on one leg elevated. I will do in-between for a little bit at the end, but not focus too much on that. The most important part about straddle overspilt is having emphasis on the low back: once the leg starts getting higher and higher, there is temptation to round the low back, causing the pelvis to face upwards. We want to make sure the hips continue to face forward when stretching oversplit, that way we are actually stretching our adductors, and not just rounding/straining the low back.


~"But Rochelle, what do I do once I am in the oversplit?"~

Excellent question! Head over to my Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility and subscribe!

I have a video going through all three of these oversplits and exercises to do in the oversplit!

I hope this information on oversplits is useful to you! Let me know if you have any questions! Remember to check out my subscription page on Vimeo for more flexibility videos!


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