Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Mark circa 1975

I used to be really flexible.

That was one of my early strengths as a gymnast, allowing me to do v sits and straight arm, straight leg presses to handstands, flat palmed, on the floor or parallel bars or the pommel of a side horse.But that type of lumbar flexion and EXTREME abdominal contraction really over stretched my back. And way too many locked knee'ed, bent over landings that I did thousands of time trying to "stick it" eventually stuck me. They told me years ago that the L5-S1 was fused and it probably was genetic. BS, it was from all those totally unsupported stiff jointed landings from competition and from the unnatural and weak postures they make modern gymnasts adopt.

Pointing the toes totally disconnects the hips and the hamstrings from functioning properly and totally takes the ass out of all movements. This is very bad ,especially with all the running and jumping gymnasts do- with no hip extension!Everything "hollowed out". Bad, bad, bad for the human animals basic movement patterns and development.Gymnasts develop very weak erectors compared to their flexors. Not good over the long haul. And people get stuck in postures they do with so much high force repetitions.

Parkour is a much better example of how human gymnastics should be ,imo. Especially how they treat those landings from impossible heights. Not a "stick" in sight. roll out, defuse the force, save the joints. that makes sense.Sticking landings to make it look pretty and stylish is ridiculous,especially with the level of difficulty they force on the athletes these days.

So when I became a powerlifter I was too flexible; not enough"superstiffness" to hold those big weights.I stopped stretched and devoted myself to developing more and more tension. It worked.Unfortunately all those length tension relationship imbalances I had developed all those years(especially with those big joint injuries) got really tight too and combined with loose ligaments from over stretching,created some serious pain syndromes.

But two and half years of basic ballistic kb movements, joint mobility, selected static stretches tons of bodywork and selected strengthening of the atagonistics I am closer than ever to balancing out my joint structure and reclaiming my body.

And as this happens the pain gets less. and less.

For the first time in perhaps my entire life I am looking for physical balance instead of the extreme edge of the possible. Once I realized that I could overcome lots of genetic weakness with willpower and concious choices it was very tempting to push things as far as I could . Even when I knew I shouldn't. The cycle of aging, of course, has a huge impact on this. BUt from this perspective I can clearly see that the window of oppurtunity to accomplish those huge adolescent dreams of greatness is so small.Age 15-30, maybe. Probably 15-25. Ten years. Big deal. Glory is temporary, pain is forever.

But that's notquite true either. The body heals;much more and for over a longer period than I have ever thought before.And it heals so much better and faster when it is balanced. On all levels. Nice to have new goals that are actually good for me, to balance the tension.

When I was 22 I wrote a bad novel about the world of gymanstics called "A question of balance". I wrote it in longhand and it never got published but even that far back I was seeking that balance. It's tough, extremes are fun :))

No comments: