Contortion is the ability to stretch and bend beyond your normal range of motion. Many movements consist of bending forward or backward to extreme positions. Developing the flexibility needed to complete the contortionist stretches requires consistent and long-term stretching workouts. However, there are contortionist stretches that are appropriate for beginners.
Exercises should progressively increase in intensity and difficulty. Some beginner stretches include the front bend, side bend, beginning stretch for back bends and beginning stretch to bring your legs over your head and behind the back. To see significant results, do stretching workouts at least three days per week, and they can be done on a daily basis. Complete each stretch about 10 times each.
Importance of Warming Up
It's essential that you properly warm up before participating in any contortionist stretches. A warm-up increases your muscles' temperature, which allows them to stretch further and prevents them from straining during your stretches. A good warm-up consists of five to 10 minutes of an aerobic activity, such as jogging or riding a bike, followed by 10 to 15 minutes of mild stretching to prepare the muscles for more strenuous activity.
The front bend exercise is completed by placing your feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider. Rest your wrists on the back of a chair in front of you. Keep your arms straight, and bend forward, forcing your shoulders and chest toward the ground.
To complete the side bend, stand with your feet wider than shoulder width. Keep your back straight and place your right hand on your hip or upper thigh. Keep your legs straight and bend toward the right. As you bend, allow your right hand to slide down your leg.
To begin developing the flexibility and strength to complete a back bend, place your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your head back and push your chest forward, creating an arch in your back.
To begin developing flexibility to be able to stretch your leg over your head and behind your back, sit on the floor with both knees bent and your hands placed on the ground behind you. Cross one leg over and place that foot on the other leg's thigh. Bring the knee of the leg not crossed toward your chest.
Tips and Warnings
When completing each stretch exercise, move into the stretch position slowly and under control. Once you reach a point of mild discomfort, hold that position and maintain it for 30 seconds. You will not be able to reach the full range of motion that many contortionists are able to until after training for a significant amount of time. Do not jerk or bounce in an attempt to stretch further. This is not only inefficient, but it also activates the stretch reflex in your muscle and can cause you to injure yourself.