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Fundamental Concepts

of Body Shaping

Gerald S. George, Ph.D.



Dr. Gerald George 

Any form of bending--whether in the forward, backward, or sideward mode--should be done in a fashion such that the flow of motion in the body is actually "expanding." And yet considering the fact that any act of bending is "contractive" in nature, such a concept appears (at first blush) to be contradictory! However, careful examination of how to create expansive bends in the body will perhaps clarify this seemingly perplexing concept.


Figure 7.1 compares two gymnasts executing the initial bending phase of a Backward Walkover. To initiate the bend, performer 1 simply rotates her upper body backward about her lumbar region. This movement, in and of itself, is contractive in nature, causing the internal flow of motion to travel downward. Rather than "point loading" the bend at the lumbar region, performer 2 makes every effort to stretch (extend) her total body unit in an upward direction prior to as well as during the actual backward bending motion. This action serves to spread the bend through the entire back, causing the internal flow of motion to be upwardly expansive.


Illus 7.1       

Figure 7.1. Comparative motion-flow techniques for initiating the bending phase of a Backward Walkover: (1) downward flow = poor technique; and (2) upward flow = good technique.


This motion concept of "stretching before bending" can be applied to virtually every gymnastics skill. It is based on the premise of taking in or consuming as much space as possible to execute changes in shape. Expansive body-shape changes are smoother in flow, aesthetically more pleasing, and--in the final analysis--mechanically more accurate. Let's take a closer look at what constitutes proper body shape, why mastery of these shapes is important, and how this relates to success in elite-level performance.


"Like the branches of the giant oak,

scoop-up as much space as possible

 prior to bending!"


..continued in Championship Gymnastics: Biomechanical Techniques for Shaping Winners

  • Flexion and Extension
  • The Kinetic Chain Sequence
  • Breaking the Kinetic Chain

Championship Gymnastics: Featuring 140 Gymnastic Illustrations

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  • 140 Illustrations Show You the Exact Positions and Movements for Achieving Success and Shaping Championship Winners.
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  • Learn Time-Tested Principles for Shaping Winners
  • 140 Illustrations Show You the Exact Positions and Movements for Achieving Success and Shaping Championship Winners
  • Understand the Biomechanical Principles Underlying All Gymnastics Skills
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