Did you try it? Did the sitting pike fold work for your gymnasts and their kip?
Read last week's article here if you have not tried this yet!
I am going to guess that 8/10 of your gymnasts complained about a ‘cramp in their hip?’ If this sounds familiar- then I could be about to solve your problem! If not, then you are about to learn a fantastic way to overcome tight hip flexors.
When completing a seated pike stretch with your legs straight out in front of you past 70 degrees of flexion, the stretch from the adductor magnus ischial fibers and adductor longus is not that great. So contrary to your gymnast’s protests- a cramp in an adductor is not because of adductors stretching, but the tightness of many other muscles. Constricted hip extensors, lateral hamstrings, and medial rotators are so tight that to complete full flexion, the flexors go into spasms.
Adductors are flexors of the hip, thus a spasm felt in the adductors is due to lack of flexibility in the extensors, rather than weakness in the flexors. So hip flexors- you don’t fool us! Here is a brilliant way to ensure your gymnasts are able to maximize the stretching of their hamstrings while minimizing spasms and cramps.
The exercise named ~PEACE~ is a stretch that increases the range of movement at the hip joint and the flexibility of the hamstrings. The flexion at the hip in this position while laying down on the floor is mirrored with the extension at the knee and hip.
The Zaichik Stretching Technique ~PEACE~ uses a ‘target, target, leverage, leverage’ method. It is fantastic technique to see instant results. For younger gymnasts it can almost look like magic! Students are amazed at how they have been able to see such drastic differences in their flexibility levels.
By highlighting the hamstrings in this stretch, we take pressure away from the hip flexors as a result. We can see when lifting single leg that the psoas and iliacus work best when the quadriceps approach the torso at a tighter angle. Check out the pictures below if you require more guidance on coaching your gymnasts.
Although this stretch mainly works on the hamstrings, the gluteus maximus, posterior gluteus medius fibers, piriformis and ischial adductor magnus are also being worked. It is vitally important to ensure your gymnasts are thoroughly warmed up for this, and as the video suggests, never working to ‘complete failure’. Following this simple, yet extremely effective method of stretching, the ‘cramping’ or spasms in the flexors will soon be a thing of the past!
There are countless skills in gymnastics that require some form of pike fold, or full split. This stretch is one to remember and continually refer back to. If you have a gymnast that is struggling to hit their 180’ split mark, or is failing to grasp a skill because of an open pike position- use this drill/ method of stretching!
Get started today with our Hamstring Double Forward Bending program below!