March 19, 2020 at 7:51 PM
Trying to get your right or left split? This stretch routine focuses on stretching the muscles that will help you get down in your splits.
You probably hadn’t thought of stretching until the day you joined your first ballet class. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It is never too late to get more bendy.
Over the years, I have worked with students with a wide range of flexibility. I’ve seen kids start a foot off the floor and get their split in a month’s time.
Anyone can get their splits and if you are willing, you can get your splits too. It just takes a little determination…
There isn’t some special magic trick to getting
your splits. Trust me, if all you had to do was
click your heels together 3 times, spin around,
and presto, get your splits, I would be
shouting it from the rooftops.
It just takes a little effort and about
10 – 20 minutes a day.
Sorry, but 30 seconds isn’t going to cut it. To become more flexible you have to stretch and lengthen your muscles. Imagine you are wearing a sweater. You pull on one sleeve for a little bit, but your mom catches you and tells you to stop. You let go and the sleeve snaps back and returns to its normal length. Now, what if you mom didn’t catch you? What if you kept pulling on that sleeve? What would happen to the sleeve after a minute? How about 10? What about 20 minutes a day, 7 days a week. The longer you spend stretching that sleeve, the longer it will become. And it will stay stretched out no matter how many times your poor mom tries to wash it. Your muscles work the same way. If you want to maintain your splits, you have to spend at least a minute in each one every day. If you want to improve your splits and and hold onto to your new found flexibility for years to come, you need to spend between 10-20 minutes in each split, every day.
Everyone’s pain threshold is different. And it is important to know the difference between good pain and bad pain when stretching, but the old adage “no pain, no gain” has never been more true. Unless you feel some discomfort in the muscles you are trying to stretch, you are not lengthening anything except the length of time it will take for you to finally get down in your split. You are stretching your limbs further than humans normally stretch. It isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows. When stretching, monitor your pain threshold, slowly lower into the split until you reach the point of no return! bum, bum, buuuum! But seriously, that point in your splits where you know you can’t go any further, and you’d rather hold your breath than talk. That is your threshold point.
The best way to maintain and improve your flexibility is to stretch every day.
That’s right. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Print your own daily split chart and track your progress!
What steps should you follow to get the best results? This 3 Step Process, has always helped my students get their splits the fastest. If you have 5 to 10 minutes to spare in the morning or evening add this to your daily routine.
Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and hold your split at your threshold point.
After a minute or 2 you may find that you no longer feel as uncomfortable as you did when you started. Don’t stop there! That’s your moment to go a little further and actually improve your split.
Lower yourself a little more until you find your new Threshold Point. Repeat this process until your timer goes off.
After 5 or 10 minutes,
your split will not only be lower,
it will stay lower the next day.
Now, what if you repeat these steps tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that? Each time you will reach a lower and lower threshold point, until abracadabra, you have your split!
Follow the chart below to see what level you are at.
How it long it takes depends on you. How far do you have to go 3 inches or 15 inches? Are diligently stretching every day? How long it takes will vary, but I promise, if you are determined it will happen. Here are come stretch routines that will enhance your stretching results.
Day to day, you might not notice any improvement at first. Feel frustrated? Want to give up on the whole thing? Well, before you quit on your split, try using a split chart.
I had a lot of students who felt like they would never get their split, so I started making splits charts with them. Each class we’d use a ruler to measure their splits and write it down. Each week they’d see their splits improve and with every success, they got more and more excited about getting their splits. Nothing is more motivating than measured success.
Now I encourage all my students to use a split chart at home. In the evening while you are doing homework or watching a movie, practice your splits and have someone in your family help you measure.
Want your full splits? Try the 30 Day Split Chart Challenge. Stretch every day for 30 days straight and measure your success. Hold each split for a minute before measuring.
Stretching is not pleasant. It is painful. So how can tell what sort of pain is good and what pain you should avoid?
If you feel pain in your hamstrings or groin area after an intense stretch session, take a day or two before stretching again in order to let the pain subside. If addressed immediately, dancers usually recover pretty quickly. If you ignore the pain and keep stretching, you run the risk of pulling a muscle and that can take months to fully heal. Not worth it.
If you over stretch your hamstrings, you will feel pain behind your knees. This means your ligaments are being stretched as well, and they weren’t designed to do that. If this happens, make sure your knees are still straight. Lift yourself up out of your split or stop pushing down as hard.
When working on your center split or froggies, avoid pain in the back of your hip joints. That pain means your joint is being pushed past its limit. Muscles stretch, bones don’t.