Let's say that you want to improve your flexibility. You don't have to explain yourself. You know why. You are a person who wants to become more flexible. The trouble is, you don't know how. Or you think you know, but you aren't quite sure. You just know that it's gonna take time and practice. And there's no guarantee at the end. Plus, you don't really like stretching. It's uncomfortable, there's nothing to do, and again, why go through all of that if you aren't even sure if it will help.
So let's talk about something that will help. Let's try to understand the problem.
Flexibility revolves around the control of your muscles
When you stretch, when you try to improve your flexibility, the things that you stretch, the things you are trying to make more stretchy are your muscles.
No matter what stretching technique you are using, no matter what mobility practice you are practicing, the thing that drives them all is muscle. All stretching techniques, all mobility techniques all revolve around some sort of focus on muscle. They revolve around your muscles, and your brain's control of those muscles.
So whether it's relaxed stretching, active stretching, PNF stretching, resisted stretching, contract-relax stretching, whether or not you are using mutual inhibition, all of these have at their center the control of muscle tissue. If you want to be more precise, what they have at their core is muscle control.
What is muscle control?
You can't use any of these techniques effectively if you can't relax your muscles or activate them at will. And you can't control your muscles effectively if you don't take into account your brains basic muscle control programming.
And that's what muscle control is.
- Muscle control is the ability to turn particular muscles on or off as you need.
- And it's understanding how your brain works so that with muscles that won't work, you can figure out how to make them work.
(And when I talk about understanding how your brain works, I mean understanding some very basic parameters, like what your brain considers or is programmed to consider as a priority to ensure that you don't break your body.)
What happens when you hold a stretch?
Now, forget all of that fancy stuff for a moment. Let's say that currently your stretching is a lot more basic. You hold a pose and wait for the stretch to happen. What are you waiting for? Some change in the muscle you are stretching? It'll either relax and stretch or stay active and elongate, but here again you are at the whim of your brain and its control of your muscles.
And no matter who you go to, it's going to amount to the same thing. Stretching in some way involves your muscles. Mobility work involves your muscles.
So why not learn to control your muscles?
So how do you improve flexibility "sensibly" (and without damaging yourself in the process)
Depending on how your brain sees your body, and how you use your body, and depending on whatever else is going on, your muscles will stretch (or lengthen) or they won't.
How often have you held a stretch and not gone deeper? How regularly do you stretch with no noticeable improvements in flexibility?
And sure, maybe some teachers say flexibility isn't that important. But what if it is to you. How do you improve your flexibility sensibly, without damaging yourself in the process and in such a way that you can enjoy the end results?
How do you spend time stretching, or doing mobility drills in a way that makes a difference and makes you more flexible?
By learning to feel and control the very things that you are trying to stretch (while at the same time understanding some basic assumptions about what your brain works to protect.)
Putting yourself in charge
You can read blog posts on different ways to stretch.
Few if any articles on stretching will tell you how to specifically activate particular muscles. And most will be based on a rudimentary understanding of how muscles work. They will also lack simple principles, basic principles that you can apply to any stretch to make it more effective, that makes it easier to activate or relax muscles at will, and that even give you a better feel for your body.
So how do you improve your chances of improving your flexibility? How do you reduce the possibility that at the end of a year you are no further along than when you first started?
What if you put yourself in charge of the process of stretching. What if instead of following instructions from a wide variety of blog posts, you take a little more ownership over the process. Actually, a lot more ownership.
What if you learn your body well enough that you can take charge of working towards improving your flexibility. And running into challenges, difficulty, you have the tools for dealing with them. Because you will run into difficulty, and to deal with difficulty it's not enough to have read a few isolated blog posts on stretching. And sure you can cobble together some understanding, but, what you really need is mastery.
Mastery: a combination of experience and understanding that allows you to create change and deal with change effectively no matter what the circumstances
A master can apply their skills in any situation, even one's they've never encountered. If you aren't quite sure how that relates, you could think of it instead as understanding and experiencing your muscles. (Understanding and experience is what mastery is based on anyway!)
To get more flexible, rather than a lot of experience in a lot of different areas, what helps is having focused experience and the resulting understanding where it counts most.
In this case what you need is muscle mastery. Muscle mastery means experiencing and understanding the very things that you are trying to stretch.
Bringing out the best
Note that just to be clear, mastery in this case isn't like being the master of a slave. It's more like a benevolent dictator, one who listens and responds. Or better yet, a partner, one who brings out the best in a relationship by listening and responding and never forcing.
Having muscle mastery means having developed the ability to feel your muscles as well as operate them. It means having experienced them so that you understand them so that you can experience them again at a deeper level.
Being able to activate muscle and relax it at will
With muscle mastery you can activate muscles and relax them at will. And if you can't, then as a master you also have the tools, the understanding to get to the root of the problem to fix it.
If you are doing relaxed stretching you can easily relax the muscles you are stretching. If you are doing active stretching you can activate the muscles that oppose the stretched muscles.
If you are doing resisted stretching, you can activate the muscles that are being stretched to resist the stretch, while lengthening them at the same time. It means being able to use muscles against each other for while at the same time lengthening one set while shortening the other.
(Note how in the general literature there isn't even a name for this. Is it eccentric, concentric or isometric or a combination of all three?)
Understanding principles of muscle control
Mastery means going beyond limited terminology and understanding.
It's like being a photographer who understands that the rule of 1/3s is a guideline for people who are learning and when you have enough experience you know when you can break the rules.
With muscle mastery you understand principles of muscle control and can apply them to what you are doing, to improve your flexibility.
More than just holding a stretch, you can go into the experience of the stretch and change it where you need to.
Rather than sitting in a stretch waiting for the time to pass, you are in your body, observing and responding.
Forget hacking, learn the open source language of muscle control
Muscle mastery means understanding that your muscles talk to you in a measurable language.
Researches (scientists) use transducers to measure forces when doing experiments on bodies (whether those bodies are alive or dead).
Your muscles are transducers also. They give you information the same way a fuel gauge of a speedometer gives you information when you are driving. And just as muscles act as transducers, so too does the connective tissue that they work on.
It's these signals that your brain reads in order to sense your body and move it. (and when required, restrict it). And it's the same information that you can access. You don't even have to hack it, it's open source. You just have to learn the language.
To learn the language of muscle talk, its grammar, its rules, you have to directly experience these things first, so that you can understand from experience, then it's that much easier to apply them.
And while simply holding a stretch can feel good and leave you feeling energized, it may not be enough to improve your flexibility. With muscle mastery you can get the buzz of a good stretch and improve your flexibility.
Becoming your own guide
Getting more flexible isn't about forcing your way into a stretch. Nor is it about holding stretches for long periods of time (though that is still an important option). It's about understanding how and why muscles work the way they do and doing your training, in part, based on that understanding.
It takes into consideration your joints and whether you are static holding or dynamic.
It takes into account variables like how your center is positioned, and where you have stability.
It also means knowing clearly what it is that you are doing. And owning it.
And so rather than just stretching, or practicing mobility, you understand the steps within those.
You understand how to lead your body effectively, how to lead your muscles so that you work steadily towards better flexibility.
And at the same time, you also learn how to improve your understanding because mastery is a never ending journey, one in which you become your own guide.
So rather than waiting for the latest study or proven technique, you are on the forefront. A self optimizing master of muscle control who understands the importance of muscle not only for moving your body, but feeling it and understands how to operate them to work towards a more flexible body.
And with that ability you then not only become more flexible, you then have the ability to apply that awareness and control to anything that you do.
Continually getting better
Functionally, you become not someone who just understanding muscle control but someone who can apply it and knows how to practice it to continually get better
So imagine, muscle mastery as the key to learning to better operate your body in anything that you do. Better operation means that you learn to feel it as well as control it.
You become your own teacher, coach, master. You become your own asset.
- If you are a student, a self-studier, this mastery means that you have a better understanding of your own body.
- If you are a teacher, this mastery means that you have a better understanding of your own body making it easier to help your students work towards better flexibility.
- Better yet, it means that you've learned to listen to your body, and in the same way you can then learn to listen to your students (or observe) so that rather than going through the same script time after time, you become responsive and effective.
- And when you get questions you can back up your answers both with simple explain your student experience first hand what you are talking about.
So here's the deal.
An opportunity to learn
- Muscle mastery for flexibility is your opportunity to learn to feel and control muscles and how to apply that ability to improving flexibility.
- Beyond that it's your chance to learn your body in such a way that you have the tools to better use it in anything that you do.
- And it's an invitation to learning the tools to continue exploring your body.
- It's your ticket to confidently experiencing your body and fine tuning that experience.
Get on the road to Muscle mastery with muscle control for better flexibility.
It's a four month course. It shows you the principles for muscle control and the nut and bolts of actually learning muscle control. It comes with a 30 day guarantee. And you'll have continued access for two months after.
Learning an array of tools
Here's the thing with muscle control. Not all techniques work all of the time. And that's one of the biggest things that I've had to learn. (There's no silver bullet, unless you consider muscle control to be that silver bullet) And so what you get with this course is the experience of a wide range of techniques. And don't worry, they are easy to learn. And that again is part of the reason for limiting access to six months. If you have to keep accessing the course to remember the material, you haven't learned it. You have to internalize the material and the course is designed in such a way that that is easy to do. It's a lot like taking a driver's ed class. But instead of learning to drive a car or bike, what you learn instead is your body.
And you might think why learn all of the included techniques or muscles, why not just learn one?
Because no single one of them works all of the time. They all have their place. They are all different ways of experiencing your body. They are all different tools. And with muscle mastery, you learn to select the right tool for the job at hand. Even now I still go back to techniques I used when I was first learning muscle control.
None of it was wasted.
And the right tool for the job
If you are a student, a self-practitioner, that means based on how you feel, and what you did yesterday, you can pick whatever tool is appropriate.
And if you are teacher, the ability to explore and understand your own body gives you a built in reference for helping the people you are teaching.
In either case, imagine if you had a tool box that magically grows as you get more experience. Imagine if you could create tools as you need them. That's what muscle control gives you because not only are you controlling your muscles, you body, your interface with the ground or whatever else you are in contact with, you are also "sensing" or noticing these things.
And that "sensitivity" means you can notice new things and explore them. Like the ongoing mission of the starship enterprise but applied to the inner space of your body.