Tips To Do the Splits Properly
What to Expect?
There are no easy achievements in any kind of sports. To make even little progress, you should train hard. Furthermore, it is impossible to learn any new skills within a couple of weeks.
But most people who set the goal to get into the splits, do not realize what it actually takes to succeed, and are not ready to go all the way to fulfill their target.
Such approach does not lead to success. The split is the position that requires certain elasticity of tendons, ligaments, joints, and tissues – therefore, learning to do it is not an easy task.
To achieve the result, you should devote 20–30 minutes of your spare time to stretching. If you cannot perform the exercises every day, try to do it every other day. But in this case, it will take longer to become more flexible and be able to do the splits.
You should understand that a clear purpose and awareness of the road ahead are the keys to success. Here you will find some of the best exercises to help you get your splits fast. Nobody else but you can make your body train and get better. Before each stretch session close your eyes for 5 minutes and imagine the desired result. You have to set clear and well-defined goals, and fulfill them gradually, step by step.
The following image shows some useful stretching exercises to improve your flexibility:
Adequate Assessment of Your Abilities
The common mistake made by many beginners is looking at professionals and trying to repeat after them. It is very well if you have a desire to learn something from the skilled and experienced people. But such methods are inadmissible in regard to physical training. You have to soberly assess your strength and body potential.
Do not be quick to perform hard exercises because they can do more harm than good. During training you will see what comes easy to you, and what should be worked on.
Most people fail to get into their splits even after several months of hard training. Is it bad? No, it isn’t. We all have different bodies and genetics.
Front Split or Side Split – Which One is Easier to Get?
Front splits are easier for most people. There is a simple explanation for it – such movement is natural for the body because it resembles a long stride. People move their legs like this to run faster.
We always walk forward and do not walk sideways in our life. Besides, evolutionarily we are not well adapted to spread our legs wide apart. It is the movement that involves the side split. The front split seems easier because of the structural features of the human joints and muscles.
However, there are exceptions, and front stretching of the legs can be harder for some people because of their individual peculiarities. Much depends on the willingness. If you have a desire to do the splits and are ready to train systematically and diligently, you will definitely achieve your goal.
Stages of a Stretching Routine
A good training program that can help you get your splits should consist of the following stages:
- exercises warming up the leg muscles and ligaments;
- stretching exercises;
- post-exercise recovery (loosening the muscles).
Warming up helps you achieve the maximum results in stretching. You should perform different exercises – in this case you will enjoy the steady progress.
Always remember that any workout is a stress for your body, especially when you force it to perform unnatural movements. After maximum stretch return your legs to the starting position very slowly.
At-home Stretching Routine
You should warm-up at least 10 minutes until you feel a light sheen of sweat on your forehead.
Warm up your muscles. This process usually lasts from 5 to 10 minutes and can even depend on the room or gym temperature. The main thing is to feel that your body is ready to work.
You can begin by massaging your leg muscles – give your legs a good rub. Then perform a few rhythmic moves – you can remember some elements of dance. Squats and leg swings are also ideal for warming up your muscles and ligaments before stretching.
The first attempts to do a split. Spread your legs as wide as you can and try to reach your personal maximum level. This would be the reference point for tracking the results at the end of your stretch session.
From this position stretch down and put your hands on the floor directly in front of you. Imagine that you are a pendulum swinging from left to right and vice-versa. Swing like that from side to side.
Put your elbows on the floor. If you cannot do it yet, do not worry – just bring them as close as possible to the floor. Then begin moving back and forward.
Stay in this position for 5–7 minutes. At this time, try to relax and think of something pleasant – it helps forget about the pain and allows your feet slide out to the sides.
Return to the starting position: once you feel that you cannot stretch any further, start bringing your legs back together with the help of your arms. Do it very slowly.
After that press your legs together and perform 10–15 circular movements forward and backward. Thus, you allow your ligaments and joints return to their proper places.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your toes pointing up towards the ceiling. Bend forward and wrap your hands around the soles of your feet. Try to lay your chest onto your legs.
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
The starting position is the same as in the previous exercise, but you should bring your legs wide apart. Keep your back straight. Place your hands between your legs on the floor and slowly walk the hands forward as you bend your torso. Try to touch your chest to the floor – you will be able to do it when you become more flexible. As a rule, this exercise is hard, especially for the beginners. There is no need to be afraid of it because it targets your inner thighs, posterior thighs, and hamstrings.
Spread your legs wide apart, keep your back straight, and focus straight ahead. Shift your body weight to your right leg bending the knee and keeping your left leg straight. Stay in this position for a few seconds and shift your weight to your left leg. The wider you spread your legs apart before the exercise, the more effective it will be.
Sit up tall on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent out to the sides. Start pressing your knees toward the floor. Your goal is to get flexible enough to touch both knees to the floor.
The second phase of the movement is lowering your body toward your feet. Grasp your feet with both hands and lean your body forward as far as you can. Keep your back straight, chest and shoulders open. Ideally you should stretch to the extent that you could touch your chest to the floor.
Gradually add to your stretching plan different kinds of lunges, try to change your position while sitting in a split (front split – side split – front split). You should also watch the videos in this article to learn more exercises designed to help you improve your flexibility.
Those few but very effective exercises and tips listed in the article carry out a very important function – they help your body "recollect" its flexibility and plasticity. With each stretching session you will go further down into the splits. Just don’t give up until you reach your goal.
Useful Yoga Exercises
Traditional yoga practice implies stretching activities without any sudden movements and haste. You should stretch your muscles gradually, step by step, listening to your body. This technique yields positive results and minimizes the risk of injury. A lot of classical yoga poses or asanas can help you get into the splits.
Runner’s Lunge Pose
Step your right foot forward and bend the knee of the front leg at about 90 degrees. Extend your left leg backward and support yourself on the fingertips. Lay your torso on the thigh of your forward leg. Keep your head up. Stretch your left leg by trying to lower your heel to the floor.
Crescent Lunge Pose
From the previous asana, lower the knee of your back leg down to the floor, shift your weight forward, and open your chest into a soft back bend. Put your hands on your waist and look up towards the ceiling. The knee of the forward leg should be bent at an acute angle.
Half Front Splits Pose
From the low lunge position, shift your weight back to the left leg and extend your right leg with the foot flexed and the toes pointed toward the ceiling. Slowly bend forward and touch your toes with your hands. Try to place your hands on the floor in front of your foot. Keep your shoulders open and your back straight throughout the exercise. If this pose is easy for you, try to bend further, lay your upper body on your forward leg, and place your forearms on the floor.
Lift your pelvis, come into a low lunge with your forward leg bent at an angle of 90 degrees, and the other leg extended backward supported on the fingertips. Place your hands on the ground, on either side of the foot of the forward leg. Hold this position and try to lower down on your forearms. You can also try to lay your chest on the floor.
Common Mistakes Most Beginners Make
There are a few mistakes beginners tend to make when stretching for the splits. These mistakes slow down the process and impede the progress.
Stretching with Muscle Tension
When a person performs stretching exercises, he or she feels pain and muscle tension. This is the body’s natural response. It not only deprives of the pleasure from the stretching process, but also prevents from achieving good results – tensed muscles hinder the work at full range.
Thus, while performing the exercise you should relax your target muscle or part of the body you are aiming to stretch. For this purpose, it would be much more convenient and effective to work with a personal trainer or a partner who could help you stretch further while you rest your muscles, and relieve any tension.
When performing any stretching exercise, you should try to keep your back straight. Your chest and shoulders should be open, and your lower back should remain neutral. This is a proper stretching technique. While keeping your back straight, breathe deeply and evenly.
Bouncing while you stretch is a common mistake. The “ballistic” stretching increases the risk of injury, therefore, it is inefficient. You should stretch slowly and smoothly, being careful to avoid sudden movements.
Focusing on Stretching One Muscle Group Only
As a rule, everybody who wants to achieve a split focuses on stretching the leg muscles only. This is the wrong approach – it is essential to stretch all parts of the body. Add some exercises for your back, abdominals, and arms to your stretching routine. In this case, your body will be fully-developed, and you will be able to drop into the splits faster.
Stretching Only One Leg for a Front Split
One more serious mistake is to concentrate all your attention on a single forward leg while you prepare for a front split. The rear leg remains poorly developed. Therefore, you will have to turn out your pelvis when performing a split, which is actually wrong and looks unattractive.
Work harmoniously, set reasonable goals, and you will definitely succeed. Good luck!