By Susi Hately
Welcome to the exploration of L-Sit – with the P.V.C pipe set. I am so glad you joined me.
I love exploring movement, for so many reasons. Whether with a client or myself, I love the idea of bringing integrity into a body and enabling it to move better, then adding more complexity so that progress can occur. I love the idea of progressively and intelligently challenging, seeing where there is compensation and then refining how movement happens.
I also love to see the relationships between body and mind. I firmly believe that rarely are gains made by “mind over matter”. That the matter actually matters. When we can truly feel, understand and listen to the sensations of our body, we can learn so much about ourselves, and how we operate in the world. In this way, the gains are magnified. It is more than just movement. It is YOU in the movement, and it is the movement bringing out the best in YOU.
This particular guide is about L-Sit. I’ve broken this position into what I see as its important component parts, and then bring those components together into a fluid, strong and easeful whole.
While I have outlined this as a process, your refinement will be ongoing. Movement is dynamic as is your body’s structure and function. Improvement requires consistency in control, coordination, suppleness, stability and strength. If you attempt to just bust out the move – it may provide some fleeting feelings of success – but it won’t really develop a solid foundation or improve your overall capabilities. Your chance for injury will increase, which will only lead to more frustration. True success will come step-by-step learning, and becoming aware of how you are moving, what is working and what isn’t and how to make it all work better. Hopefully, the process will develop and deepen your curiosity, your awareness, your strength, stability and suppleness and will make you feel so darn good.
A Couple of Assumptions
There are 2 assumptions that I am making about you, as the reader. The first, is I am assuming that you have a basic level of awareness about your body. The second, is that you don’t have pain. L-Sits are complex and challenging, and require a significant amount of control and coordination. If you have pain there are likely underlying movement patterns that are contributing to those pain levels and those patterns need to be improved.
If you have been following me for awhile, you will know that I have a significant focus for helping people get out of pain. In doing so, My method is to work from the centre and move outward. I focus on improving overall breathing and relaxation, spinal awareness, and mobility and stability of the largest joints (hips and shoulders), and then work out to the periphery. Once that baseline is set, I can then help my client in connecting the periphery to the centre and grow complexity of movement and overall progress.
L-Sit sits are at the far end of the spectrum of progress, especially where there is sufficient awareness, relaxation in movement, and overall ease. L-Sit takes those 3 components and adds more challenge. The following is a step-by-step process which can help you refine your way of being and way of movement as you meet and integrate the challenge so that you gain more capacity and capability, more coordination and control, and overall, feel really good.
Step 1: FEEL
To do L-Sit well, you need to have some foundational mechanics – mobility, stability and strength. If you don’t, you will fall into your hands and wrists which can lead to wrist issues, tendonitis in your elbow, and/or myofascial issues around your rib cage, and into the base of your neck. One way to test this out is to try each level of the movement. When you move into the various progressions, notice what you feel. There shouldn’t be any strain, pain, tension or tightness in your wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck or rib cage. (or anywhere else for that matter)
Step 2: FEET ON FLOOR AND BREATHE
Start with your feet on the floor, hands on the pipes. Breathe easily. Watch for any anticipatory breath holding or gripping. Be really easy here. Lasso your ambition here – try not to move ahead if you can’t breathe easily here.
Step 3: FEET COME OFF THE FLOOR
Very slowly and gradually take some weight off your feet and feel the response into your torso and your arms as they take on more of the weight. Try to not be anticipatory about this and brace your belly before taking the weight out of your feet. Allow your torso and arms to respond to the weight shift. Be easy, be able to breathe, keep your jaw, eyes soft and easy. Practice with this for a bit of time, so that you can clear one foot, then another foot an inch off the floor.
• This is one of those stages where you don’t want to be in your wrists, or elbows, neck rib cage. If you are, you are taking too much weight off of your feet.
• If you find that your forearms are becoming tight, it is a sign that you are compensating, whether by gripping with your hands, or falling into your wrists, so scale back a little bit.
• With this and the next steps, be sure that you are not quickly pulling up your feet like you just touched a hot stove with your toes. Move with easy tempo and rhythm.
Step 4: EXTEND ONE KNEE
Now with your hands on the pipes and one foot on the floor, play with extending your other knee with your hip at 90 degrees. If you can’t extend the knee fully, then don’t. Keep this in the range that is available. Pay attention to what is happening in your arms, and further up the chain in your neck or your rib cage. Allow for contraction but not that grippy kind of “grip”.
Step 5: PLAYFUL WITH EXTENDING BOTH KNEES
Now you get to play with more load. Slowly take your other foot off the floor, and keep your knees bent. Be exploratory here and extend one knee a little, then the other, then both. Be aware of what is going on in your torso, neck and wrists. The legs, as they straighten, add quite a bit of extra load (the weight is now further away from your centre).
A FEW MORE GEMS
Wrists – Hands – Shoulder Relationship
The wrists are important in being able to do the L-Sit with the PVC pipes. Being close to the end of the arms’s kinetic chain, the wrists bear quite a bit of load as your feet come off the floor. If your forearms are tight and/or you are gripping the pipes too firmly, you may feel residual pain, strain, ache or tenderness in your wrists. Keeping your forearms supple and not overtraining will help to keep your wrists mobile and support your development of L-Sits.
Hip Flexor – Hamstring – Torso – Shoulder – Hands – Wrist Relationship
This movement needs your hip flexors to be working well, which may seem odd given that there is so much discussion in fitness, yoga and most activity about releasing the hip flexors. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel when your hip flexors are working the way they are meant to – in good coordination with the hamstrings, calves, torso, shoulder girdle, wrists and hands. Without effective hip flexor-hamstring function, you can inadvertently bear so much, maybe too much weight through the wrists. Likewise not being strong and mobile enough through the shoulder girdle can limit your ability to lift your feet and bring your hips into flexion and your knees into extension.
Have fun exploring!