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How do I do the Splits?

  
Aug 2015


First Published: Sunday 30-Aug-2015 4:12 PM, Edited: Wednesday 02-Sep-2015 9:54 PM
Author: Gary Black

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splits

Teaching yourself to do the splits will take time. There is no magic spell that will make you flexible enough overnight. Perseverance and correct technique is the key to success.

This is question that I get asked by kids surprisingly often, so this article is targeted at a young audience. It is not meant to be scientific. It is a simplistic overview, and terminology and language is aimed at a young audience.

Flexibility!

Before you can do the splits, you need to be flexible enough. Flexibility is basically the maximum length that a muscle can stretch without tearing. You can increase your flexibility with some fairly basic exercises, but it will take time. There is no magic spell that will make you flexible enough overnight.

Your Muscles

If you want to get more flexible, then it will be helpful to know the basics of how a muscle works.

It will be helpful to understand how your muscles work. Read this article first.

As we get stronger, the muscle fibres get fatter and shorter. Because the muscle fibres get shorter, the muscle can’t stretch as far.

To make the muscle be able to stretch out longer, we need to make the muscle fibres longer. The way we do this is by "breaking" the fibre. Your body then repairs the fibre, but makes it longer at the same time.

So, to get more flexible you need to do a little bit of damage to your muscles. This means that stretching will need to be uncomfortable.


Training to do the Spilts


This will take time, there is no magic bullet.

Step 1 – Warmup

You need to warm-up the muscle you are going to stretch first. Stretching a cold muscle is pointless. If we are going to do the splits, go for a short run to get your muscles warm.

Step 2 – Dynamic Stretching

We start step 2 with a simple stretching routine.

Standing bends (hamstrings and inner thighs)


Stand with your feet wide apart and arms out (Star Shape).

  1. Reach your right hand towards your left foot,
  2. Go back up to star,
  3. Left hand towards your right foot,
  4. go back up to star,
  5. Both hands forward to the floor,
  6. go back up to star

Keep your Knees straight all the time, and don’t hold the stretches. Repeat the pattern 10 times. As you get better at it, put your feet closer together.

Seated bends (hamstrings and inner thighs + lower back)


Sit with your legs apart (straddled) and knees straight.

  1. Reach your right hand towards your left foot,
  2. Sit back up,
  3. Left hand towards your right foot,
  4. Sit back up,
  5. Both hands forward to the floor,
  6. Sit back up

Keep your Knees straight all the time, and don’t hold the stretches. Repeat the pattern 10 times. As you get better at it, put your feet closer together.

Leg Swings


Do all of these at least 20 times, and swing as high as you can.

Front Leg Swings

Stand beside a wall with your hand on the wall for support. You can also use a hand rail, bar, etc…

Keep both legs straight and swing your right leg up as high as you can without bending either leg, then swing back down. Make sure that your hips stay straight, don’t roll or move them. The only part of your body that should move is your leg.

Turn around and do another 20 with your left leg.


Side Leg Swings

Now face the wall or rail and put both hands on it. Again, the only part of your body that moves is your leg.

Swing your right leg up and down 20 times, and then repeat for your left leg.


Back Leg Swings

These are the same as front leg swings, but now instead of swinging your leg forwards you are swinging your leg backwards.

Step 3 – Static Stretching

The safest way you can stretch is static stretching. That means that you get the muscle into a spot where it’s uncomfortable, and hold it there. After a little while holding it, it won’t be uncomfortable any more, and you can stretch it a little bit further until it’s uncomfortable again. For it to do any good you need to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, in the correct shape. It won’t work if you’re twisted.

splits

Warning – Ballistic Stretching – this is the type of stretching where you bounce at the end of the stretch. It forces the muscle to go further than it should and can cause damage to the ligaments and joints. – Don’t Do This!

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch


kneeling hamstring stretch

Stand kneeling on the ground. Put one leg straight out in front of you, with your foot pointing up. Lean forwards towards your knee and try to touch the ground. When you can do that, lean further forwards and try to get your stomach to touch your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax and change legs.

When you can do that, put your back leg further backwards.

Extension: Put your front leg up higher - on a cushion, sofa, etc..

Back lying quadriceps stretch


Sit on the floor with your legs straddled out in front. Take your right foot and tuck it out backwards so it is beside your right buttock. Lie down backwards - you can support yourself on your elbows if you need to, but the goal is to lie flat on your back. Again hold for 30 seconds, then change legs.

Kneeling hip flexer stretch


Kneeling hip flexer stretch

Kneel on the floor. Put your right foot out in front of you with your right knee bent, and your left leg out behind you. Keep your hips square! You are pushing your groin forwards towards your right foot. - put the right foot further forwards for a stronger stretch.

Inner-thigh flexers (Middle Splits)


Find a spot where you can lie down with your back on the floor and your legs up on the wall.

Lie down on your back with your legs up on the wall. Slowly allow your legs to straddle. Relax, and allow gravity to take over and pull your legs further apart for you.

After 30 seconds, roll to the side, you may need to use your hands to pull your legs out of the position.

Finally, Doing the Splits


splits with hands on surface

When you are getting really good, you might like to try stretching in the splits.

Again, technique is the key. Find a surface like a coffee table that you can support on with your hands, there is no point rolling your hips just to get on the ground, you won't achieve anything like that.


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About Gary Black...


Gary Black

Advanced Silver Mens Gymnastics Coach, Intermediate Womens Gymnastics Coach, Intermediate Kindergym Coach.

Gary began running gymnastics programs in schools in 2003. Initially as a casual staff member with another company, whilst studing teaching at Deakin University; and quickly becoming one of their managers. Gary went on to own what was the sole Victorian franchise of that company.

Whilst with that company, under Gary's leadership, Victorian customers enjoyed quality, reliability, flexibility, and understanding.

In mid 2014, to be able to better service the changing needs of schools, Gary decided to move away from a restrictive franchised business, and started Gymnastics 4 Hire, determined to keep the high standards that customers had come to enjoy, and to provide a service specifically tailored to the customers needs.