To bend like the willow tree.
August 21, 2003 9:08 PM   Subscribe

I only thought I was flexible. Look around for a while. And then injure yourself as you attempt to mimick what you see. Or be more reasonable.
posted by bargle (15 comments total)
See also: contortion homepage.
posted by bargle at 9:13 PM on August 21, 2003

My personal favorite Wish I'd been able to get tickets when they were here in Baltimore. Ah well, maybe next time.
posted by Grod at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2003

I feel so very dirty...
posted by jonson at 11:03 PM on August 21, 2003

so you should jonson - I know what you were thinking.
posted by dg at 11:04 PM on August 21, 2003

(I think we're all thinking that.)
posted by boredomjockey at 11:30 PM on August 21, 2003

This guy seems to be enjoying his work. But don't piss him off.
posted by wsg at 11:35 PM on August 21, 2003

There's a link on that page to report broken links. Is there a link on that page to report broken backs?
posted by salmacis at 12:28 AM on August 22, 2003

I came across house gymnastics, which sounds, er, painful too.
posted by BigCalm at 1:10 AM on August 22, 2003

I think just this one picture will sum the site up for all our male readers...
posted by twine42 at 1:40 AM on August 22, 2003

I know what you're thinking, jonson et al, because I've heard variations on the theme since I hit puberty. That's when I realized that most people aren't like me.

Anyone can increase his or her flexibility, but the exceptionally elastic are born that way. It's called hypermobility, it's caused by a genetic defect in the way connective tissues are formed, and it comes in degrees of severity ranging from unnoticeable to unbelievable. I'm somewhere in the middle.

When I was young, flexibility was just a party trick. My ankles were weak and constantly sprained, but no one made the connection between the loose ligaments that allowed my ankles to invert and the loose ligaments that allowed me to do splits (and so on). I stretched every day because 1. I did a lot of sports and 2. it felt good.

Now that I'm older, hypermobility is a problem. My joints dislocate, my back hurts, and my ankles are shot (healthy ankle on the left, ruined ankle on the right, the bones shouldn't move when pushed). I don't sleep well because my muscles contract repeatedly to keep my joints together. And at the moment, I'm not allowed to do serious exercise, let alone sports.

But I can still do splits.
posted by swerve at 3:13 AM on August 22, 2003

If we could all do this, no one would ever leave the house. That's what I"m thinking. Dirty dirty dirty.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:59 AM on August 22, 2003

Interesting, Swerve. Sorry to hear of your physical problems; I'd always wondered when I saw someone hyperflex like that (including Olympic gymnasts) if it affected their bodies later in life. If the human body wasn't meant to bend that way, is it harmful to do so? Now I know.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:35 AM on August 22, 2003

Lois Greenfield's site has been a favourite of mine for a long time, especially the gravity defying images of dancers in her portfolio.
posted by Tarrama at 6:42 AM on August 22, 2003

Apologies for the too-much-information (and possibly whining) nature of my post. The subject is so arcane that once it's raised, I just start talking (typing).

Most flexible people don't have problems like mine. If flexibility always = pain, there would be no gymnasts, dancers, or contortionists.

Interestingly, the gymnasts who have the fewest long-term problems are the ones who were not naturally flexible, because they started with strong ligaments and tendons. Kristie Phillips, known for her flexibility, started out with loose ligaments, stretched them even more, and now has chronic back pain.

The flexibility-related problems in retired gymnasts are mostly due to the practice of stretching joints (note the weight on the knee). Muscles are meant to stretch; joints are not. But the years of repeated impact (e.g. dismounts) are more responsible for post-career pain than years of stretching.
posted by swerve at 10:22 AM on August 22, 2003

swerve is right - hypermobility can be a problem...

there are two types of natural hypermobility - hypermobility syndrome, which is what several gymnasts, dancers and contortionists have - when they have naturally loose muscles and ligaments, but it doesn't cause them any pain.

Then there's the bad kind - which is also known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - Type 3 (see for more information)... and believe me when I say this is far from funny, nor fun.

Sure, being able to cross your legs behind your head is a great party trick - but having your hip dislocate as you walk across a busy main road isn't.
posted by pixeldiva at 2:42 PM on August 22, 2003

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