I want to start off by saying that I am not a fitness trainer or dance teacher. My perspective on getting your splits is completely from my own personal experience. However, after taking dance lessons for nearly 15 years, I’ve learned a lot about flexibility, stretching, and maintaining your splits.
To start, you need to be warmed up. Your body will perform better and be more limber once your muscles are loose. I only perform static stretching at the end of my workouts.
Secondly, it helps to be aware of your own flexibility level. We all know those people that never stretch (or so they say) who just drop down into a split (sometimes at the club) and pop back up without pulling a hammy! Don’t compare yourself to them. Most likely, you are not Gumby. Be your own frame of reference. I, for example, am not very flexible naturally. I stretch 6-7 days a week because in my case, I will lose it if I don’t use it. What works for someone else may not work for you, so it’s best to take all advice about splits with a grain of salt (even mine)!
In addition, doing a split is about more than just your hamstrings and your quads. You have to make sure your hip flexors are open as well. Performing a variety of stretches, including splits, will help you to get and maintain your splits.
Sometimes I think maintenance is the more challenging part. Once you get down there, where do you have to go? When I first got my splits, I got a little excited and started to stretch less. It didn’t take long before I was unable to sit in them again. I am now back to sitting in my splits on both sides for one minute each and my middle split for 30 seconds.
The reason why I’m only at 30 seconds with my middle split is because my hip flexors have a dark side! I’m serious. Stretching your splits should be uncomfortable but not painful. You don’t want to overdo it and end up not being able to stretch at all for several weeks. Don’t go easy on yourself-you need to be challenged. But only challenging yourself in ways that are safe.
My last tip would be to only stretch yourself! I cannot tell your how many times a teacher felt compelled to sit/lean on me and other students or encouraged fellow students to stretch each other! Forcing anything-especially flexibility can lead to injury. 1/8 of an inch might seem like nothing to the naked eye, but when we’re taking about flexibility, it’s significant.
What’s your favorite way to stretch your splits?