Pancake stretch issues

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by spawn2031, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. spawn2031

    spawn2031 New Member

    Hey guys, first time post here. Been googling, asking, reading, trying so many different things trying to figure out what's stopping me here. Just found this forum so I'm hoping someone here might have that key info that I am missing to put this issue to bed.... so... here goes...


    I am 44 years old with a decent amount of MA experience in my past but had been idle for about 15-20 years or so. Got my kids into TKD which jump started my desire to get back up on the horse and stop being so damned lazy, lol. When I first started back I had some severe flexibility issues. Every move hurt, but I can proudly say that with a lot of effort and persistence I have overcome many of those issues... all except for this one. This pancake stretch is a favorite of my dojo and I could only hope to get my legs as wide as they are in the picture. In reality, on my best day, I can only get them maybe half as wide. The odd thing is, when I try, I dont feel a pull in my groin area, I only feel it on the outside of my hips and sometimes I feel a sharp pain on my right side. I also cannot do side leg raises to save my life. I'd be lucky if I got them to knee level. It just feels like they can't go any further.

    I've been to a chiropractor and he did some xrays, I was expecting to hear that I had some kind of hip impingement or some other issue that was limiting my range of motion but he found nothing like that. He did find some deterioration in my cartridge in the top of the socket joint on both sides though. It's been about 3 months now and I am barely anymore flexible in these aspects than I was before and it is very frustrating. I have found ways to be able to rotate my hips and plant foot when kicking that allow me to throw most of my kicks and hit as I am supposed to but I can't shake the feeling that things would be so much easier for me if I could increase my flexibility in these aspects.

    So... anyone been here? Anyone conquered it? I dont care how long the road is, I'm fine with baby steps as long as I can find a way to improve. Just so frustrated that something that is so difficult for me seems to be so easy for everyone else. Any help at all would be great!

    Thank you very much.
  2. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    First the caveat: this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. Best to see a physiotherapist / physical therapist.

    It sounds like it could be a hip abductor strength issue. This is pretty common in my experience.

    Rather than adding your weight to the exercise, as in the pancake, I would suggest doing leg raises every day to build up strength.

    There are three exercises in this video, which you might like to try:

  3. spawn2031

    spawn2031 New Member

    Well those are definitely exercises that I’ve never seen before. I’ll certainly give them a shot. I’ve been suspecting weak hip flexors but wasn’t certain. When I get pain it’s hard to tell if it’s muscle pain or deeper in the joint.
  4. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I always was slow to progress side split flexibility with the pancake stretch.

    I've tried various different methods, the one I've seen the most effective is from @Van Zandt isometric splits.
    There is a thread in this forum with details.
    Isometric split progression

    The strength of your muscles being stretched and around the muscles being stretched is an important part of flexibilty. As noted, the pain in the abductor area could likely indicate a weakeness.

    How long have you been back into training for?
    I have seen on many occassions when people get back into martial arts (including myself) after a long time off, they are at higher risk of injury than a complete beginner as they are able to attempt positions (high or jumping kicks etc) that they used to be able to do, but their body isn't completely conditioned for yet.
  5. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    As well as all the good advice given by others already, it could help to add a weekly yoga or Pilates class (time permitting, seeing as you've got kids).

    Pilates typically includes strengthening muscles involved in side leg raises, and regular Pilates or yoga will increase flexibility significantly. Also, the balance work and core stability from this type of class will reduce the chances of injuring that 44 year-old body, along with increased power in your kicks because of a stronger core.
    spawn2031 likes this.
  6. spawn2031

    spawn2031 New Member

    I've been back in training for about 3 months now. I'd say that I'm getting in a good 30min - 1 hour long workout in a minimum of 3 times a week and I've been working nightly (almost) on stretching which has gotten me as far as I have gotten back on track. Seems maybe I've been going about the hip flexor training wrong though as I have certainly only been trying to work on flexibility and not strength. I think I'll be shifting that focus for awhile and see how that helps. I could certainly see how I could fall into the group of people you are talking about that could possibly injure themselves easier after getting back into it. My mind remembers what I used to do and how to do it but body definitely cannot support all those movements yet.

    Definitely something I was thinking about as well when I first got back into this and realized how much my flexibility had suffered. But, as you pointed out, hard to work in with my 2 little ones. Though I'm not against pulling up YouTube vids or other work-at-home options. I can always do that kind of stuff after the little ones are in bed. That's kind of when I get all my extra, outside of class training, in. Are you aware of any good online resources for that?

    The more I think on it, if weakness in the hip flexors is my main issue here and flexibility will come as I increase the strength in that area then I probably never really had much flexibility there even years ago (honestly cant remember) I worked mainly in Kenpo which does not emphasize kicking very much at all.
  7. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    I found that things like Pilates and yoga require a teacher that can correct you, and this is especially important as a beginner. Could you start with the odd private lesson or beginners class, then move onto doing the routine at home when your kids are in bed? Failing that, Body Control Pilates is one of the more reputable organisations and has a book and accompanying DVD. While they look targeted at people in leotards, Jospeph Pilates was a boxer and martial artist:

    Alternatively, there's the Martial Artists Book of Yoga. Though I think yoga is also tricky to start without having had at least some instruction in person.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  8. spawn2031

    spawn2031 New Member

    I can certainly try. I'll give anything that could get me closer to my goal a try if I can. I can see how a beginner might not get the benefit from it without guidance. I appreciate the info!! I live in a super small town, so my choices on this are very limited.
  9. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    Good luck and I hope you find something that suits you!

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