I’m kinda excited about this episode, because the exercise I will show you here changed my pancake mobility life!
It may not seem like that, but I’ve always had a really hard time with mobility training (until about 4 years ago). I was a competitive figure skater for 16 years and a competitive dancer for 5 years. And eventhough I trained a lot and had always been in the right environment to become flexible, this was always the thing I hated and I tried to avoid. So I was also never really good at it. I’m still nowhere near a contortionist, but I have my splits and my pancake and it took me until the age of 22 to get there – after I discovered loaded stretching*!
So in this episode I will show you my favourite exercise to improve your pancake mobility. You will need:
- some kind of weight (like a kettlebell for example. I use 16-20kg. Or you can work together with a friend who gives you resistance)
- a floor you can sit on that is not too grippy
During the exercise you basically push yourself actively into the pancake through the resistance of the weight in front of you. The resistance makes you feel the active muscles and you teach your body how to use them. There are two ways to make the exercise easier or harder:
regression: sit on top of a yoga block or something similar to elevate yourself. This way it will be easier to sit in a straddle, if you’r having trouble with that in the first place.
progression: elevate your feet on yoga blocks/books/etc. to increase the range.
This exercise was a game changer for me, because it made me realize which muscles I can use actively to put myself in a pancake, rather than just focusing on the muscles that are being stretched and hurt.
Until I discovered other forms of active mobility training I was only doing passive stretching, staying in a position for maybe a minute and at the same time somehow trying to avoid the pain and therefore contracting the stretched muscles. Gaining awareness of the active muscles in a stretch helped me to shift my focus, so that the stretched muscles could relax more and actually be worked on. Passive stretching is absolutely great and now that I have a fair amount of mobility, I spend a lot of time just sitting in the desired position and it helps me. But when you’re resisting stretching and have a hard time letting go and relaxing, these kind of active exercises might be easier to get the idea of what your body should do.
It’s easier to voluntarily contract muscles, than voluntarily relaxing them.
Give this exercise a try if you’re looking to improve your pancake and let us know in the comment section below if it worked for you! Also I would love to know what else helps you in your pancake mobility. Share your experience with us, so people can learn from you and maybe you can learn something new too!
The world is your playground, so just do what you love!
*Loaded stretching is a general term for active mobility training that uses weights or resistance. There are a lot of exercises and people react very differently to mobility training. So always make sure to listen to your body!