We have lots of people asking how young you can start using the program. This is of course a very important topic and one that has a varied answer.
- Parts of the program can be incorporated into training programs for individuals as young as 7 years of age, however when working with very young children (younger than 7 years of age) we usually focus on just a few gentle and specific hands on release techniques from the program, such as the hamstring massage (in the bonus videos section). With very young dancers I focus their 'stretching' routine around making shapes with their bodies, rather than focusing on specific muscles. Ie - beautiful big 'C' shapes to open out the lateral fascial line.
- From 7 years of age we focus on gentle mobility and stability exercises for the spine, hips and legs rather than an aggressive stretching program. Students at this age must not be forced into stretches, and the focus should be on developing body awareness. Starting with simple meditation techniques at this age can dramatically help the students mobility levels.
- Between the ages of 8-11 we focus on teaching more of the program, but use an adult or older student to help out with some of the massage techniques (such as the Sub Occipital Release techniques, and the Foot and Ankle Massage) and use simplified versions of each of the stretches as needed. Some sections of the program, such as the "Improving Hip Extension" section are simplified into a single stretch in each position until the student has the strength, control and awareness to start exploring the subtleties of the other variations.
- From the age of 12 we start focusing more on self management, and multiple versions of each exercise, but focus on 2 - 3 areas that are an issue for that child, rather than the full program. It is very important at this age not to push into the end range of hamstriong stretches or into the splits due to the risk of Avulsion Fractures. This is the unfortunate situation where a piece of bone at the muscle insertion gets pulled away from the main bone at the level of the growth plate due to the heightened activity of bone growth, and it can take a very long time to heal.
- From the age of 14 and above, it is good to establish a comprehensive flexibility program that encompases multiple movements in multiple areas. Doing the whole Front Splits Fast Flexibility Program to the music on a regular basis (at least 3 x a week) is recommended.
- Once the student is comfortable with the prescribed program they may start to explore even more variations and bring in other stretches or mobility exercises, such as a more comprehensive Vinyasa Yoga sequence, to deepen their practice.
- Older students and adult beginners can safely do the whole program, however we do recommend starting with just 3 sections that are most relevant to the individual.
I hope this helps!