This time spent at home has forced me to confront a shitload of bad habits that have been festering away over the years. My chaotic and overflowing chest of drawers, my disorganised inbox and most importantly, my distinct lack of back and shoulder flexibility training.
Since I re-started my flexibility quest in 2018, the amount of times I have a properly trained my back and shoulders has been very few and far between compared to my relatively regular (well, if you can count once a week as regular) splits sessions. On a good week, I would spend approximately two hours in total stretching my legs, my back and shoulders however got a piddly ten minutes at best throughout the entire week, which consisted of about two stretches. A bit of a bloody poor show if we are going to be honest!
Well, you’ll be happy to know that due to my increase in free evenings at the moment, I have taken the bull by it’s stiff and stubborn horns and am dedicating some proper time to sorting out the perpetual shitshow that is my back and shoulder flexibility. It has always been a running joke (not one that I mind at all, it’s true at the end of the day!) how stiff my shoulders are, fuck it took me two years to get a basic pretzel spin, well not anymore I do declare!
If we are being brutally honest, having at least a moderate level of back and shoulder flexibility is an absolute necessity in some way or another when it comes to pole dancing. I find back bendy moves sneak up on you and give you a rude awakening as to how stiff you really are (giggity) which is a fucking annoying thing to experience when it happens. Moves like a Jade or Jallegra for example obviously require flexy legs, but relatively intermediate moves such as open Allegras (not the foot grabbing bendy wendy version) Ballerinas/Stags and a Dove are made ten times harder or in my case damn well impossible with a stiff upper body.
In terms of what I want to achieve move wise on the back bending quest, this bitch right here is being realistic as hell. I sure as shit am not adding mental, back bending moves such as a Rainbow Marchenko, Eagle or Cocoon/Extreme Scorpio onto my pole goals list any time soon! Instead, I would like to be able to be able to manage the moves mentioned in the previous paragraph properly, in one way or another. I would love to be able to execute a stronger, more flexible open Allegra, get into a Ballerina/Stag (that one doesn’t have to be perfect for now) and be able to get into a Dove from the floor or up the pole, depending on how my temperamental Superman comes along. Overall, some pretty achievable goals if I stick to the old training schedule.
Said training schedule so far consists of an online back and shoulder flexibility classes with Anna Frost and another Daisy Moore each week. I would like to add right now that this mission didn’t begin until Sunday 12th April and I only just upped the class game to two per week as of Thursday, so I am not expecting to see results any time soon. I am finding the time to train and the motivation to do it relatively easy, but how I am finding the classes themselves is an entirely different kettle of fish. This shit is hard work! At the moment, I am at the very beginner level of back bending and can only really achieve the entry level moves in the stretching sequences. That took some getting used to, as in splits classes I feel like I have graduated up to the prestigious “middle of the class” level and can go a bit deeper in the stretches. However, after reminding myself enough times that I have only just properly started training my upper body’s flexibility, that old bastard self-doubt soon buggered off.
But do you know what has not yet buggered off after three weeks, the fucking agonising pain of upper body stretching. Either Daisy or Anna (sorry ladies for not remembering exactly who!) explained that “often our upper back is quite a nervous area that is reluctant to open up” and holy shit if that isn’t the most accurate thing I’ve ever heard, as my fuckhouse shoulders are so petrified I think they have turned to stone.
Partaking in a shoulder stretching session has caused the poor old bastards to burn in places they didn’t even know it was possible to burn in. To summarise, they feel like they’re crunching to death and I have definitely had a few wobbles where I feel like I can’t do anything in class. Obviously, patience is a virtue and I know that only stretching once a week for three weeks won’t open anything up for shit, stretching a problem area is as much a mental exercise in patience as it is a physical exercise too.
Also, I thought that I would develop a hatred for walls, but when you’re doing a stretch where your armpit needs to touch the wall and mine feels about 12 metres from the fucking thing, you find yourself scowling at the sturdy buggers. And don’t even get me started on the puppy pose – I also never thought I could feel fear and dread at anything with the word “puppy” in it, but low and behold I can, especially when my poor old chin starts getting smashed it smithereens in that pose!
As you can see from the main picture above, my bridge and cobras do exist, in some form, and I am seeing weeny bits of progression staring to emerge. Bridge rotations are a confusing exercise and I don’t get along with them just yet, but hopefully I’ll get to grips with them soon.
If you’re also on a back and shoulder flexibility quest, let me know how it’s going in the comments!