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Stretch Therapy for Gymnastics Strength Training (“GST”)

This two-day intensive workshop is purpose-designed for all men and women pursuing strength training following men’s gymnastics’ strength training protocols. We will present solo and partner versions of most exercises. We will cover all necessary partial poses, progressions, and associated techniques (like fascial releases) to be able to do:

  • pike
  • pancake
  • full squat
  • full back bend (the bridge)
  • shoulder extension, and flexion
  • full hip mobility

Achieving a full pike and a full pancake requires stretching the calf muscles (including the often-neglected posterior fascial line), all three hamstrings, all adductors, and a small muscle in the hip called piriformis which is a surprisingly common (but often unsuspected) limiter of these fundamental movements. Practising the pike and pancake by themselves is relatively inefficient, in terms of results gained for time spent—there are better ways.

The techniques we will use to achieve the pike and the pancake are all partial poses and/or fascial techniques. The core method used is the Contract–Relax technique, as developed by our team over the last 25 years. We will also use innovative agonist–antagonist moving stretching techniques which will actively assist flatter pikes and pancakes, by activating the hip flexors and TFL in their maximally shortened positions—this provides needed strength in the fully contracted position as well as provides the brain with a novel stretch sensation. Fascial releases on gracilis and the inner hamstrings will be done on all attendees, where needed.

The full squat requires considerable ankle flexibility and hip mobility and we will show you a range of exercises that will allow you to do this movement with good foot alignment, preserved arches in the feet, and no support. On most workshops when we begin, only about half the room has a decent full squat, but by the end almost everybody does.

We will cover assistance techniques for hip internal rotation (this will complement the external rotation exercises that work piriformis, above, too).

We will practise all partial poses leading up to a full back bend. To this end we will show you effective partner stick stretches that will open the chest and shoulders, in preparation for full dislocate movements, and then add the hip flexor/quadriceps, passive back bends over supports, and rib-cage mobilisation exercises so that the body is prepared for the full back bend. Solo alternatives will be taught as well. In addition, fascial releases for the diaphragm and rectus abdominis will be done for all attendees.

In the process of going through these partial poses, you will learn exactly which structures are limiting your present movement patterns, so future practise becomes very time efficient. Often, only a small muscle or narrow line of fascia is the restriction—finding and changing these are the keys to unlocking your body.

Experience has shown us that adults following gymnastic strength training regimens frequently injure themselves. We will practise a range of extremely effective rehabilitation–treatment exercises to address these kinds of problems. As well, there are a number of stretching exercise that actively assist in recovery and we will do these, too.

Kit has an extensive rehabilitation background and has worked with many elite and Olympic athletes over the last 25 years. He is the author of Overcome neck & back pain (now in its 4th edition) and Stretching & Flexibility (15th printing). Search for him by name to find his site, his forums, and his YouTube channel.