Getting started with Flexibility

So you’re a complete beginner and you want to start to get flexible or even learn contortion skills? Or perhaps you’re already flexible in some aspect but you want to get a good understanding of the basics that you’ll need to progress your contortion training – there’s no shame going back to the beginning every so often, having a strong foundation is key for progression to skills later on.

The foundations are important in allowing you to build upon what you already know. They allow you to have a jumping off point, letting you get started without deliberating what you need to do. At the beginning they are your training, and almost more importantly they teach you how to train. Since a lot of advanced poses and skills are based around the foundations, they are very good building blocks, as well as a point to return to if things are getting stale.

Knowing the areas that you need to train

Most flexibility and contortion skills can be broken down into component pieces. In most cases a pose will utilise multiple bodyparts. Isolating the part of the body that a skill needs is important when trying to break down a skill.

Broadly speaking we can say there are two main sections, upper and lower body. These sections divide into the following.

Upper body

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Back
Lower Body

  • Hips
  • Hamstrings
  • Feet

Where to start if you're completely new

If you’re starting from the very beginning, with zero to no pre-existing flexibility – or nothing out of the normal range of motion anyway; I would argue that hips and hamstrings are the way to go. These areas of the body, while having their own challenges are ultimately the best place to start your training off at as they’re fairly easy to train as compared to your back. Plus the gains in flexibility tend to come quicker in these areas, so they’re a good starting point to see some progression start to happen.

Some other reading