(Make sure you stretch both sides! I like to do this routine twice on each side as I find myself a little looser after the first run through. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. )
Stretching for the Splits: Quick Guide
I get a lot of asks about how to achieve a split, so I took a couple quick videos today to help out anyone who is working toward this goal! These are my favorite side splits stretches. Here are a few things to keep in mind when stretching for the splits:
- Warm up fully before beginning to stretch! This is important. Warm muscles are much looser and more pliable than cold ones, and much less prone to injury. It’s best to save the stretching for after your workout, or if you aren’t planning on working out, do 5-10 minutes of a full body cardio session that gets your heart rate up. Jumping jacks, kicks, jogging around, running up and down the stairs, dancing to a fast song or two… whatever gets your blood flowing. I find it helpful to do some squats, lunges, and high-knees before stretching my legs as well.
- Try to keep the hips squared when you stretch.This means that both your hips will be facing forward, your legs should be nearly in line with each other, the knee and foot of the back leg will be facing the floor, and your torso should not twist out to the side. Think of pulling the back leg forward and the front leg back. Whether you perform your split squared or turned out/open will depend on your sport/dance style and aesthetic preference, but when stretching always aim for squared hips as it allows a deeper stretch.
- Stretch to the point of discomfort, NOT PAIN. Don’t hurt yourself! A pulled muscle can set back all of your progress for weeks or months, so listen to your body!
- Don’t stretch every day. My general rule is that if my muscles feel fine, I will stretch 2 days in a row, but try to give yourself a break at least every few days and especially if your muscles are very sore. Just like strength training, your body needs time to repair any muscles damage. Stretching too much can actually inhibit your progress. Light stretching however is ok every day.
- Be patient! Splits don’t happen overnight. It may take some 4 weeks and others 4 months and others 4 years, but keep at it and you will see results :)
Of course there are many many more stretches that you can do to help achieve your splits, but these are the basics that will target the hamstrings and hip flexors for your split. Make sure to vary your routine and add new stretches every so often!