Are You More Flexible On One Side Than The Other?

Hi Guys!

On our recent flexibility webinar I answered a question from Willy in the Netherlands about one of his students being much more flexible on the right  than on the left. Unfortunately a few people have reported that sometime I speak too fast when answering the questions (especially if English is their second language) and so I have written my answer out in full.  I just get so excited talking about all of this stuff and tend to get a little ahead of myself!

His question was….

Hi Lisa, I am wondering if you can help me out… One of my students can do the splits easily on her right leg but can never seem to get any more mobile on the left! What can I do to help her?

This is actually a very personal question for me as I was exactly the same! I have always been so much more mobile on my right hand side, and no matter how much I would stretch my left, it just never seemed to improve. In my attempts to get more flexible I would constantly strain the top of my hamstrings when I got frustrated with it and pushed too hard!

Often this tension in one side happens if the gluteal muscles on that side are not working properly… When we are walking, the Gluteals should contract a little at heel strike, and then again later in the stride, to take our leg behind us and drive the body forward. If this does not happen, extra load is placed on the hamstrings and the back muscles. No matter how much stretching you do, if the hamstrings are contracting excessively every time you walk, then they will constantly feel tight.

After I became a physio, and actually when one of my employers was assessing me, she noticed that my left Gluteus Maximus did not fire when I extended my left leg. The right one worked fine, but on the left nothing happened! I have actually made a video of this test in the Members Area of The Front Splits Fast site (http://www.frontsplitsfast.com/members-area), that you should have access to if you have purchased the program.

Basically, the student is lying face down, and you place your fingers on their lower back, their upper gluteals, their lower gluteals and their hamstrings. When the student lifts their leg, you will be able to feel what muscles activate first. Now the hamstrings will come on, but we want the load to be shared with the gluteals, rather than all of the load being taken in the hamstrings.

Every time I run a flexibility workshop we do this test and there are at least 4 – 5 people who find this very difficult. They are also usually the ones who stretch and stretch and never get more mobile. If they do find it difficult to make the gluteals activate, we work on lots of different exercises, in lying and in standing, to ‘wake up’ the gluteal muscles in order to take the load out of the hamstrings.

When the student is actually able to use the gluteals for simple day to day things such as climbing the stairs, their mobility in the tight side should start improving rapidly.

I hope this answers your question, and helps you help her to get more flexible!

Kind regards,

Lisa Howell

PS… If you would like to listen/watch the full webinar, you can do this here:

http://www.theballetblog.com/article/neural-mobility-webinar-with-lisa-howell-how-to-get-more-flexible/

One Response to “Are You More Flexible On One Side Than The Other?”

  1. Daniela Says:

    hey lisa, i got a callosity in both my feet just in the part of the heel and although only the left one bothers me, it has prevented me to improve my strenght because i cant stay in releve a lot of time and as a result my right muscle is bigger and stronger than my left one,, how can i change this!!!! please help, my two legs look different from one another

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