After you shake off the awe-struck stupor induced by this gorgeous display of athleticism, grace, and artistry, what’s one of the first things you notice about her diving? Her beautiful pike? Yep. It’s incredible. How does one achieve such a flawless pike, you may ask? Let’s dive into this discussion.
For so many of us mere mortals, the pike stretch can be endlessly frustrating. We stretch and stretch our hamstrings to no avail, and make little progress. If this is you, there may be an underlying issue that you’re not addressing that is significantly limiting your pike mobility.
ANATOMY OF THE POSTERIOR THIGH (AKA THE BACK OF YOUR LEG)
WHAT MAKES HAMSTRINGS STRETCH?
WHAT STRETCHES THE SCIATIC NERVE?
- Back: straight
- Pelvis: anteriorly rotated (booty out)
- Knees: straight
- Foot/ankle: relaxed/pointed
- Back: rounded forward/flexed/hunched
- Pelvis: posteriorly rotated (tail tucked)
- Knees: straight
- Foot/ankle: flexed
WHY IT MATTERS…
OK, if the end goal here is to pike like a Chinese diver, this means we need to be purposeful with how we stretch to get the best (safest) results as efficiently as possible, and adequately address all structures that may be limiting this motion.
Nerves and muscles react very differently to prolonged passive stretch (holding an end-range pike for 30-60 seconds). Muscles tend to like it and typically relax over time (if not pushed with excessive force), which results in a deeper stretch. However, nerves HATE prolonged passive stretch and tend to get even more irritated if they are pushed to end range capacity for too long- this means your flexibility may ACTUALLY get worse. So, if limited nerve mobility is the biggest factor in your pike, how do you address this?
Flossing. Flossing solves all the problems. Instead of stretching from both ends simultaneously, nerves prefer to be finessed a bit more. This means that to adequately address nerve mobility, you need to put one end of the nerve on TENSION, while the opposite end is on SLACK. Then, reverse it- you literally “floss” the nerve back and forth to “loosen” it up. This drastically improves the neural mobility, and (if it was limiting your stretch), may improve the overall range of motion in your pike.
I WANT TO PIKE LIKE A DIVER! HOW DO I FLOSS MY NERVE?!
Check out the sequel to this post, right here! In that post, I talk about easy and safe ways to address nerve tension and improve your pike stretch.
If you want to learn more and start de-mystifying your flexibility training check out MyFLEX. This is my fully customized online flexibility training program for performing artists – of ANY flexibility level – who want to learn the WHY behind smarter and safer flexibility programming!