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Old 07-31-2008, 02:57 PM   #1
Peter Gugel
Dojo: Main Street Martial Arts (www.budojo.com)
Location: MA, near Providence
Join Date: Jul 2008
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United_States
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Two questions from a beginner.

Hi, I just started my first lessons in Aikido last week, and I have a few questions. They both relate to training, stretching, or exercising that I feel that I need to do outside of the dojo:

First,
What exercises can I do to relieve the burden on my back muscles. After a few consecutive minutes in a lowered stance, my back muscles start to become very tight. After maybe fifteen minutes of continuous practice, they tense to the point that I can't ignore the pain anymore. I'm not straining or spraining anything in a technical sense, I'm fine after sitting down for a few minutes. Two things contribute: I hurt my back mildly in high school playing football, and I am overweight.

The second question: My feet are very inflexible. On the mats I can't really practically maintain an 'active toe' sitting in seiza, and I certainly cannot on a hard surface. Are there any exercises other than just constantly bending and stretching the toes further that I can do to help? As long as I am controlled in the stretches and do not exceed a reasonable amount of pain, is there still potential for serious injury in doing this stretch - that is, am I doing the wrong thing?

Thanks very much for any advice you can offer!
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Old 07-31-2008, 03:19 PM   #2
Lan Powers
Dojo: Aikido of Midland, Midland TX
Location: Midland Tx
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 659
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Hi Peter,
Slow stretching is always a good start....
You have/maintain the "alive" toes when you do shikko (knee-walking), and move with technique, mostly you have the tops fof your feet flat on the mat as you sit in seiza.(takes some of the strain off your back too, I bet)
It takes time to get comfortable with this stuff.
Best wishes, and welcome to aikiweb
Lan

Last edited by Lan Powers : 07-31-2008 at 03:24 PM.

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 07-31-2008, 04:53 PM   #3
Takahama
Dojo: Osaka Aikikai Hombu
Location: Osaka
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 44
Japan
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Hello Peter,

The exercises referred to in these links may prove useful.

http://www.chi-kung.org/chikung-e/standing.htm

http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/wuji.htm

Good luck.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:59 AM   #4
Zach Trent
Dojo: Integral Dojo
Location: Tel Aviv
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 41
Israel
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Hey Peter-

Great questions- and welcome! I'm a newcomer as well, so don't take my advice unless it is helpful.

I can't offer any suggestions re: your toes- hopefully all will be limber in time.

On the back muscles though, I would recommend doing every warm up stretch in class with your back muscles in mind. What I mean is that when everyone bends over to touch their toes (or whatever) you can have a secret agenda of stretching your back Work on adjusting those stretches ever so slightly until you feel the stretch in your back.

I just learned that almost every stretch my sensei does during warm ups are for his lower back, as he sits in an office chair during work, which can be hard on the back. I had no idea because many of our stretches look like cut and dry leg stretches.

If you can somehow feel your lower back stretching as you do basic warm ups, I think you will be well on your way. You could even let your sensei know you are working on it, and ask them for advice.

I should say, if you do forego leg stretches in favor of back, make sure you show up early to do those stretches seperately- don't won't to pull a leg muscle!

Peace and best of luck in your new art
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:11 AM   #5
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Flexibility doesn't happen right away -- there are no short cuts. Just keep working at it, don't expect too much too fast, and learn about safe stretching. Also, for your back, I wonder if part of the issue might be core strength (or lack thereof) rather than just flexibility. The problem may not be because your back is inflexible, but because some other stabilizing muscles are not doing their job. Something to think about...
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:37 AM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

A few words about stretching: as has been noted in numerous older aikiweb threads, "warmups" as commonly done in many aikido dojos are based on "tradition" and do not reflect current research in sports medicine/kinetics: stretching before exercise has never been proven to prevent injuries, and stretching cold muscles is considered potentially counterproductive by many folks. Lightly aerobic or range of motion for the large muscle groups of the body increases the temperature of the muscles and is a very good preparation for exercise (such as aikido), while stretching is best done post exercise.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:54 AM   #7
Zach Trent
Dojo: Integral Dojo
Location: Tel Aviv
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Israel
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
A few words about stretching: as has been noted in numerous older aikiweb threads, "warmups" as commonly done in many aikido dojos are based on "tradition" and do not reflect current research in sports medicine/kinetics: stretching before exercise has never been proven to prevent injuries, and stretching cold muscles is considered potentially counterproductive by many folks. Lightly aerobic or range of motion for the large muscle groups of the body increases the temperature of the muscles and is a very good preparation for exercise (such as aikido), while stretching is best done post exercise.
Hi Janet-

Thank you for this helpful information. Do you recommend a site or article to learn more about this? I didn't realize stretching is most important post excercise.

Also- as far as raising the temperature of the muslces, how long would this take? For instance, we jump up and down for about a minute before our stretching begins, but I sort of doubt that would be long enough to raise the temp. of any muscles.

What do you think?

Thanks!
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Old 08-01-2008, 04:23 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

I don't have links handy for original research - there is just too much info in this world to try to keep everything bookmarked! - re how long is long enough to warm up muscles, I always thought this was common sense: http://www.personalhealthzone.com/stretch.html
In dojos that do ki exercises, it seems to me that doing them right off the bat instead of starting with stretches first, would certainly qualify as a good overall range of motion warm up especially as it meets the criteria for incorporating the movements that will be done during the exercise itself.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:18 PM   #9
Zach Trent
Dojo: Integral Dojo
Location: Tel Aviv
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Israel
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I don't have links handy for original research - there is just too much info in this world to try to keep everything bookmarked! - re how long is long enough to warm up muscles, I always thought this was common sense: http://www.personalhealthzone.com/stretch.html
In dojos that do ki exercises, it seems to me that doing them right off the bat instead of starting with stretches first, would certainly qualify as a good overall range of motion warm up especially as it meets the criteria for incorporating the movements that will be done during the exercise itself.
Wow- Chad recommends five to ten minutes of warm up before stretching- I guess I should show up early and run up and down the length of the mats before class!

Thank you for pointing me to this article Janet!
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:27 AM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

In all honesty, I only do 5 to 10 minutes because I train in the evening and I figure most of my muscles are are warmed up from having been moving about for the past 10 to 12 hours...

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:52 AM   #11
Walter Martindale
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Re: Two questions from a beginner.

Janet is right on the money about warming up before stretching. Other things about stretching include that - doing a lot of long, static stretching in part of a warm up is counterproductive to being dynamic, athletic, and quick. The long static stretching exercises apparently "turn off" or at least diminish neural and muscular reactiveness. (sorry, I don't have the scientific articles to cite - these are the impressions given by physiology presenters at various coaching conferences I've attended).
If you're going for increased flexibility, pick a "non aikido" night, warm up for 10-15 minutes by jogging or cycling, and then do a 30 minute workout focusing on flexibility in your legs/ankles/toes. The physios I've attended about my lower back remark quite frequently that hamstring, hip flexor, and gluteal flexibility help prevent back injuries by allowing the hip to move rather than transferring tension to the back...

Another physio friend used to tell me that stretching at night is a waste of time, and that you should do your stretching for increased flexibility in the morning, and then another time or two during the day. (That's treating injury, though - you may be able to get away with a long stretching session at lunch time - gives you time to warm up for 10 min, stretch for 30 minutes, eat and get back to work, assuming you have an hour break...

It may take a few weeks to get measurable increases in flexibility..
Walter

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 08-03-2008 at 12:55 AM.
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