Performance artists are known for their unique and spectacular talents. Contortionists are no exception to the rule of amazing their audience, and they work hard to impress. They use special stretches when training to improve flexibility for poses like front bending, chest stands, backbend handstands, scorpion handstands, camel poses and more.
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What is a Contortionist?
If you've ever been to the circus, the performers you see who bend and stretch into the most incredible poses are contortionists. They almost look like acrobats, but their performance stays on the ground. Contortionists move their bodies and feet in ways that stun the common observer. Years of practice with stretching and training makes it possible for contortionists to twist their bodies in spectacular ways.
Contortion vs. Yoga
Contortion uses many of the same exercises found in yoga, dance, gymnastics and various circus performances. The biggest difference between contortion and exercises like yoga is that contortion is solely focused on flexibility. Yoga, dancing and gymnastics incorporate muscle strength. Contortion requires total control over your body, rather than brute strength. Yoga is also spiritual, while contortionism is mental. Though the fundamentals of contortion and yoga are different, the result is the same -- art created by the human body.
Back Stretches for Front Bends
A popular contortion move known as front bending requires good back flexibility as well as limberness in your hamstrings and hips. A good hip stretch is the Lotus Pose from yoga. Other stretches incorporate your back. Start by sitting on the floor or a firm mat, and place your legs flat in front of you. Keeping your legs straight and together, point your toes away from your body, exhale and reach forward, grabbing your ankles with your hands. This stretch is a good starting point, as it uses your hips, hamstrings, ankles, toes, back and shoulders. Back bends are another great stretch for your hamstrings, back and arms. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend with your knees and extend your arms above your head. Reach backwards until you touch the floor. Your face and stomach should be facing the ceiling while your feet and hands are flat on the floor.
Benefits of Stretching
Whether you want to get into contortion or not, you can still reap the benefits of stretching. You will improve your athletic performance by incorporating stretches into your training and decrease the risk of activity-based injury. As you bend and move, your stretches help to alleviate pain and stiffness, improving your state of mind and even your circulation.