Even though I don't consider myself an expert (I've only been doing this for 2 years), being an Exercise Science major and a personal trainer for more than 10 years have definitely helped me to understand better my experience of "adult contorting", or at least figure out partially what my body is going through. Here are some questions I asked and answered myself through research and experience:
What the hell am I stretching?
What is happening in your body when you stretch? Basically, your muscles are the ones mainly stretching. Your ligaments stretch when your muscles are maxed out. Your ligaments are thick and resistant, NOT very flexible. Tendons are not flexible.
Should I put ICE or HEAT on a muscle?
HEAT,HEAT and HEAT! Ice is good for decreasing inflammation right after sudden injuries (like falling and twisting your ankle). For everything else (soreness, pulled muscle) you want heat, which promotes blood flow and healing.
Something hurts... what happened?
It's not uncommon to overstretch/strain muscles in contortion. Of course you wanna avoid that by warming up really good and gradually sink deeper into a stretch without rushing. But if that happens, don't panic: a strain can heal in few days or few weeks, depending how severe it is.
Why can't I do this everyday?
An adult body can't perform contortion every day with the same intensity. You will have to alternate hardcore with easy, till you don't get more experienced. If you can backbend no problem everyday... well lucky you lol.
Can I do contortion AND ...weights, pole, aerial, crossfit?!
This all depends on how far you want to go with your contortion and also how old you are. If you're under 25 you might be able to train different disciplines without necessarily affecting negatively your contortion improvement. But in my experience I had to make a drastic decision and cut out almost all other training I was doing, because they would get in the way with contortion (my body would get too stiff and sore). Beside contortion I still do cardio (run, stepmill, bike or elliptical), body weight workouts and floorwork/no-tricks pole dance.
How do I heal a strain?
(FYI Strain: damaged muscle tissue. Sprain: damaged ligament tissue)
It sucks. But as I said earlier, a muscle can heal! You just need patience, heat packs, massages, little rest and lighter training on the affected area.
Am I stiff or sore? What's the difference?
This is how I classify stiff and sore:
STIFF--> many causes, often not identified (could be hormones change, dry or cold weather, sitting too much, walking too much, standing a lot, high heels, not sleeping, drinking alcohol/being dehydrate, be mad/stressed and so on... basically having a life lol). The feeling is very annoying and hard to get rid of, usually some cardio to warm up the body, light stretching or a hot bath helps.
SORE--> usually the cause is previous training. It feels painful but gets better while warming up. I prefer sore rather than stiff... the worst is when you have both, ahah!
That's it for tonight's blog.
Stay flexible, friends!