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Back Strength and Flexibility

 

Hello Coach Wayne,
My 8 year old daughter takes gymnastics, likes it, but she has a fear of hurting her back while learning too do a back bend. Could you please help her get over her fear of this? THANK you. From BECKY and SARAH Ross.
Becky

Fear and discomfort are very common while learning skills such as walk-overs and limbers. Just as muscular strength may or may not come easily for some of us, flexibility ALSO may or may not come easily. The following are a series of exercises are designed to be practiced in the home
environment to increase back flexibility and strength. They will help you accomplish your front and back-walk-overs & limbers or arch-stand kick-overs.

~Coach Wayne's simple back strength & flexibility exercises:

  1. Lay on your back on the edge of a bed or couch with your head and arms hanging off.  Then GRADUALLY slip off the bed until your hands touch the floor.  Just slipping off slowly is FUN, but here's the good stuff.

  2. Once you're hands are beginning to support you, simply straighten your arms COMPLETELY at the elbows and look at your hands with your eyes.

  3. Now bend your arms and let your head touch the floor, then STRAIGHTEN them again so it's a type of "push-up" but the back muscles are working too!

  4. For MORE fun...slowly...bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the bed.  Then... push UP into an arch stand.. feet UP on the bed.. hands DOWN on the floor. THEN try the "push-up" exercises (10-20 reps)

  5. If that's too simple... lift ONE let straight into the air.... then switch legs (like a split).
  1. Lay on your back on the edge of a bed or couch with your head and arms hanging off.  Then GRADUALLY slip off the bed until your hands touch the floor.  Just slipping off slowly is FUN, but here's the good stuff.

  2. Once you're hands are beginning to support you, simply straighten your arms COMPLETELY at the elbows and look at your hands with your eyes.

  3. Now bend your arms and let your head touch the floor, then STRAIGHTEN them again so it's a type of "push-up" but the back muscles are working too!

  4. For MORE fun...slowly...bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the bed.  Then... push UP into an arch stand.. feet UP on the bed.. hands DOWN on the floor. THEN try the "push-up" exercises (10-20 reps)

  5. If that's too simple... lift ONE let straight into the air.... then switch legs (like a split).

 

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Coach Wayne is the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos and books have been used by students and instructors world wide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for in-gym instructor training and performance tumbling clinics throughout the year. For booking information, coaches/owners should call 912.398.8082. Students and parents should request coaches/owners to contact Coach Wayne: www.CoachWayne.com, coach@coachwayne.com or 912-238-1747, 912-398-8082.

Yet MORE "EXCELLENT Walk-Overs" Exercises from www.CoachWayne.com

PLEASE READ ALL these instructions COMPLETELY before beginning this exercise. Think them through FIRST, then perform them accurately, adjusting for your individual body limits and circumstances.

  1. Stand with your back against a wall. (a closed door works well too).

  2. Take ONE step forward.

  3. KEEP your feet in a STRIDE position  with your knees as straight as possible.

  4. Hold your ARMS high over your head, elbows straight, arms narrow so your thumbs touch each other.

  5.   Look at the ceiling.. then tilt your head backwards until you can see the wall behind you.

  6. Touch the wall behind you with your hands.  Keep your arms as narrow as possible and VERY VERY far back (down behind).

  7. Relax your head back & STAY in that position for 4 LONG breaths, relaxing your back and hands LOWER on the wall with each breath.

  8. Bend your FRONT knee to stand, keeping your back arched as LONG as possible and bringing your head/arms back up LAST.  All the weight should MOVE to your FRONT LEG.  REMEMBER to LOOK AT YOUR HANDS!!!  Keep your chin up and head BACK to encourage arching.

  9. Each time you repeat this (5-10 times) begin standing FARTHER away from the wall (move forward one or two inches at a time) & eventually you'll be able to lay your hands on the floor or grab the BACK of your foot!

  10. At advanced levels, the entire exercise is performed standing on ONE foot only with the front leg being held (knees straight) as high in the air as possible.

***NOTE*** In this exercise, to PROTECT and SUPPORT the LOWER BACK... you should TIGHTEN / SQUEEZE your BUTTOCKS and HOLD THEM in a tightened condition. There should be NO pain, but a bit of general "discomfort" may be expected. Be sure to warm-up and stretch the back muscles BEFORE and AFTER this exercise.  Remember, strong abdomen/chest/hip muscles are needed to balance out strong back muscles.

SPOTTERS NOTE!!!  A hand, placed lightly on the gymnast's back should help stabilize and control a gymnast. Maintain VERY light pressure, enough to perform these functions.

  1.   Minimize lateral (sideways) or twisting motions.  (a second hand, at the hip bone or sacrum, may help)  You should NOT be HOLDING the gymnast's weight.  Let HER hold herself.

  2.   To help prevent "falling" until the muscles/brain learn to coordinate & balance & control THROUGHOUT the entire movement. Usually only needed for a few of the first 10 repetitions.

  3.   To help the gymnast "sculpt" and shape the curving bend of the back.   By moving your hand up and down the  entire spine lightly, a "brushing" /probing with the fingertips, you help the gymnast identify muscles & vertebrae / ribs which are, or are not, being used.
These important concepts, and MANY others, are reviewed in my "Better Back-Handsprings" video. Order your now at www.coachwayne.com/webstore/index.php. As always, I welcome your comments and concerns.  Please send your email questions to: Coach@CoachWayne.com and YES I really do answer ALL the questions I can, personally.

 

Have fun, Be safe, Push HARD!
~CW

Coach Wayne is the Head Coach for the Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos and books have been used by students and instructors world wide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available for in-gym instructor training and performance tumbling clinics throughout the year. For booking information, coaches/owners should call 912.398.8082. Students and parents should request coaches/owners to contact Coach Wayne.


 


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