Proper way to stretch your way into a split?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by chocobebe, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. chocobebe

    chocobebe Member

    I've tried looking through this forum, and I still haven't found much help. So here goes my problem:

    I'm still trying to achieve splits. Never been able to do them in my life. Lately I got suggestions to just keep stretching with my legs open until I can touch the floor, but it's really putting strain on my knees and upper thigh muscle. Not to mention I don't even get a stretching sensation on one of my thigh/groin muscles, it just goes straight to sharp pain. I've tried to do yoga, but that either puts me to sleep each time, or I spend too much effort trying to prevent myself slipping off the mat. Any other ideas/proper stretches that would help me achieve the splits? (And a higher kick that isn't only 90 degrees off the ground)
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    honestly, I don't know a better way than yoga..particularly hot yoga..it isn't an overnight thing, increasing flexibility......and you definately need to always be warm before attempting it, or you will tear...and that will likely decrease your flexibility
  3. Angelo

    Angelo New Member

    I am sure that there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. Tom Kurz has published both print and video material specifically designed to acheive splits and high kicks. I used them years ago to achieve a front split when I was practicing Tae Kwon Do. There is some video on the internet of him working into a side split at over 50 years old. Dick Hartzell invented the JumpStretch style of elastic training bands and I have seen video of him demonstrating a front split at over 60 years of age. Kurz's program worked fairly quickly for me but it involved quite a bit effort and some pretty intense discomfort (no sharp pains though). Hartzell does'nt have a plan dedicated to acheiving splits but his stretching method doesn't take a lot of time and results would likely accumulate over a longer period of time.
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Sharp pain isn't normal. You might want to see a physical therapist before trying stretching programs or yoga or Pilates to make sure there's nothing going on you don't know about. (Until I had an adjustment from a PT, I had no idea my right hip is actually higher than my left, presumably from an old impact injury, probably one of the times I came off a horse and landed on my tailbone. It explained a lot about why some things in dance and skating were just harder on that side, and I had no idea I'd done that to myself.) Some aches and discomfort is normal but going right to sharp pain means something is off besides technique, and you don't want to hurt yourself!
  5. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    As someone who has been trying to get (and keep) my splits for a while and torn muscles in the process, follow the advice you are getting here and TAKE IT SLOW. Definitely back off if you are feeling pain. Stretching should not hurt. If you tear a muscle (or more than one), or even worse you overstretch a tendon, it takes a LONG time to heal, will definitely hurt your flexibility and make it that much harder to achieve your goal.

    Also, make sure you are stretching all of the muscles involved. Hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, groin...it's a whole lot more than being able to touch your toes, and muscle imbalance leads to injury.

    Good luck!
  6. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    Oh, and I fully second the hot yoga idea. Absolute best thing I have ever found for increasing flexibility.
  7. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    I am working on achieving my splits as well. I stretch pretty intensely after I work out, when my muscles are super warm. I do a variety like:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (all sides)
    and doing the splits of course: [​IMG] - that's my recent attempt!
  8. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    If you're bored in yoga, find another yoga class. Yoga is *work* and not boring.

    Once you're improving your overall flexibility, the best method I know, and have used since my teen years (am in my 40s) is to get into the old "hurdler stretch" on the floor, with one leg out in front and the other bent to the side as if you're jumping a hurdle. Keep moving the bent leg more and more back, and making straighter and straighter. "Play" at your resistance points and use gentle movement to help the muscles release. Eventually, when things are relased enuf, the hurdle stretch goes into the split, and you can play with how much you feel that stretch by how squarely you sit on your hips/pelvis. There is a way to do the splits slightly off-set (easier) or fully centered (more intense).

    The hurdle stretch is BTW not what appears as the first photo above...that has the foot of the bent leg in front of the hips and can be precarious for one's knees when stretching. Bend the leg and keep your foot to the back.
  9. Seconding all the replies who said TAKE IT SLOW!

    I started stretching last year to attempt to get my splits. After a couple of months I managed to sprain my ankle - it didn't even hurt at the time, I was just attempting front splits and suddenly felt something 'go', it was stupid how it didn't even warn me by hurting first!

    It's been nearly a year. I had about 4 months of physio which helped my recovery a lot, but it is a year later and I know now my ankle will probably never be the same again, and I may never manage the splits. I just have to take it carefully, do a few stretches every day after cycling home from work (so I am warm) and see how things go. Google 'How to do the Splits' to find some stretches.

    And I also second getting advice from a physiotherapist before you start, sharp pain is definitely wrong!
  10. 3wishes

    3wishes Well-Known Member

    ohhhhh this is all very interesting. I've never ever been able to do the splits, yet in my younger years I was a "high kicker" in a kick line - much like the famous rockettes. hmmmmmmmmm.
  11. This. Realize that any noticeable gains in flexibility can take months. I have read and talked to quite a few sources that have said that it can take 2 months minimum of consistent flexibility training before you start becoming more flexible.

    Also, even though you should stretch every time you exercise, you should only be stretching to increase flexibility about once every 2 days (one stretching session every 36-48 hours). Just like lifting weights, your body needs time to adjust and heal after a flexibility-increasing stretching session. This includes methods of exercise that are specifically meant to help increase flexibility, like yoga/hot yoga.
  12. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    Nice! :applause:
  13. DanceLightly

    DanceLightly New Member

    Most people are more flexible then they think they are. What they are lacking is muscle strength, not greater range of motion because it isn't that you can't stretch your legs into a split, it's that your muscles are freaking out that they won't be able to get out of the stretch if they need to in a hurry (cave man fight/flight issues). An exercise for front splits for example - lift R leg onto bar or sturdy surface as high as you can go without lifting your hip, as it is on the bar, push down on the bar creating resistance for about 15-20 seconds, release, repeat, release, repeat. Then try to lift a bit higher and repeat the exercise. You can also do this while laying down and having a friend let you push them with your leg. Hot yoga does work, however I found my flexibility only improved whilst in the hot room. Other forms of yoga are also helpful, because they help you to build strength in your muscles, not create greater range of movement.
  14. With all due respect, I would take this point with caution. I think age makes a huge difference, and where it may be safe for a teenager to push their limits, it won't be for say, a 30 year old.

    The main point to remember is, if you are stretching to the point of pain, it's too much for you. I didn't even get pain when I was stretching, and I managed to sprain my ankle. Even my physiotherapist couldn't understand how I did the damage. I was 30 when this happened.
  15. chocobebe

    chocobebe Member

    Thanks! All the input has been really helpful. I was looking more towards stretches I could do from home, and there have been a few that I have read that I think I'll be able to do. :)
  16. laucy.my

    laucy.my Active Member

    I've been struggling to do this as well. I pushed myself too hard this one time and now everytime I try to do the stretches I do everyday, I can't. There's this one part in my left inner thigh that hurts even when I open my legs slightly wider. I regret for doing that, and pray that it'll heal soon. It has been about a month now.

  17. You may have chosen to do this anyway, but if not:

    Don't do any stretches that hurt the injured area. If this happens only when you try to do stretches for box splits, you could still do stretches for front/back splits, so you would still be working on your flexibility. But if it hurts for any stretches, just don't do them.

    If it was a pulled muscle I would have thought it would have healed by now (unless you haven't rested it). If you can, it would probably be an idea to get it checked out with a physiotherapist.
  18. flexi

    flexi Member

    Easy to do..
    At the end of the day, when you are gearing down and relaxed.. Get a hot shower to warm body up..

    Then work through deep lunges left and right supporting weigh with hands.. Lunges are good to stretch groin . They key is take your time, and get used to allowing the body to release. Usually when you do something new, the body resists by tensing up as a protective measure.. You will learn exactly when your body releases, which is usually easier when times with breathing.

    After lunges work on hamstrings, usually laying on back, or on something like a chair/ ballet bar..

    Last try on floor with weight supported...

    This think be gentle with your body, and when it trusts you it will release it's defenses
  19. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    when i was a cheerleader in high school, i tore my groin muscle in a pep rally, doing a round-off into splits without having warmed up. it was a long time before i truly repaired that injury, and it took a lot of work.

    the only way to heal from an actual tear is to work it consistently over time, after it heals, to work through and break up the scar tissue. if that's what you did, you will need time to let it repair before you start working it again.

    if it was just a pulled muscle, let it repair, and then approach your stretching with more... kindness. :)
  20. Casayoto

    Casayoto Member

    Muscle pulls can sometimes take a long time to heal. I pulled a hamstring around Christmas, and it was only within the last month or so that it's back to 100%.

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