How To: Stretch for the Splits


After writing my last post, I thought it would only make sense to let you guys know exactly how I am stretching!

While I definitely do not claim to be a stretching expert, I had to learn what stretches were the best for my goals.  Derek’s younger sister, Alexis, has been a gymnast for a long time.  She’s like a noodle, that girl can bend any way she wants!  I was telling her about my goal and she offered to show me the same stretches that she would do in gymnastics in order to increase her flexibility for her splits.  So I like to think I got some expert advice!

First, you sit down and spread your legs as wide as you can ( I literally sat here for about three minutes trying to figure our another way to say that… Ha! ).  For this first part, you want to make sure that your feet are flexed, meaning that your toes are pointed towards the ceiling.  Another important thing to remember is to keep your knees pointed towards the ceiling for these first few stretches.  When I first started, I found that it was easy for my knees to start pointing inward, which also moved my toes to point more at the wall. So just make sure you are paying attention!  Then you reach and lean towards one foot using both hands.

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Next, you want to reach your inside arm up and over, which will open up your chest.

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Keeping your top hand where it is, you want to move your hand that still has ahold of your foot to your thigh on your opposite side.  This is called “ballerina.”

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AT THIS POINT you want to repeat these stretches for your left leg.  Once you do them, you can move on!

Still keeping your feet flexed, you want to reach forward as far as you can.  The key here is to keep your shoulders from rounding forward and hunching over.  You want to keep your posture!  Also, remember to keep your toes and knees pointed towards the ceiling.  They want to roll forward here!

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Next, you want to place both of your hands at the small of your back.  Knuckles at your back, keeping your hands flat.  Keeping those feet flexed, you want to lean forward again like the previous stretch, still keeping your shoulders from rounding forward and your back from curving.  Watch those knees and toes!

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Now you want to put your feet together and point them straight forward.  Start by pointing your toes.

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Keeping your toes pointed, move the top of your feet back towards your legs.

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Now that your feet are perpendicular to the floor, flex your feet.

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Keeping your toes FLEXED, move the soles of your feet back toward the ground.

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Then point your toes again!

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Repeat these last four steps about five or six times.  These will make it easier to point your toes by easing cramping and stretching your ankles.

Next you want to sit on top of both of your feet.  Normally when people do this, people get “sickle-foot.”  This means that the toes point inward.  We want to keep our feet straight, so before you sit on your feet, use your hand to grip each foot to hold it straight.  Once you are sitting on your feet, lean back.

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Now, you want to repeat all of the beginning stretches on your right leg, but with pointed toes this time!  Here are the photos, in order:

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AT THIS POINT you want to repeat these stretches for your left leg.  Once you do them, you can move on!

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At this point I normally have to shake out my legs!!!  My legs aren’t used to this yet. Ha!

Beginning with your right leg, we move on to runner’s stretch!  During this one, it’s important to keep your hips square.  In order to ensure this, you want to place your left hand on the outside of your right leg and your right hand on the back of your left leg.  Make sure you let yourself sink into this stretch.  It should almost feel like your leg muscles get in the way of the stretch!

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From this position, you just want to straighten your front leg and move your weight back to your left leg.  Lower your chest down to your knee, keeping your front foot FLAT on the floor.

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Next you want to move back into runner’s stretch.  This time, grab your back foot with your left hand.  You may grab your foot with both hands as long as your hips stay square.

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From here you want to straighten your front leg again.  This time, however, you want to try to “swim” under your right leg.  The lower you get your chest, the easier it will be to “swim” under your leg.  This is the one that’s the most challenging for me, as I cannot get my chest low enough yet in order to get my entire arm underneath my leg.  Again, with this you want to try to keep your hips as square as possible.  Once you ( and me! ) are flexible enough, your whole arm should be able to fit under your leg.

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Now, go to the full splits ( or as far as you can go ) !

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AT THIS POINT you want to repeat these stretches for your left leg.

Then you’re done!

The first time I did this, I thought to myself:

“Why in the world would I commit to doing this every day?” “This is going to take like 20 minutes a day.  That’s a long time.”  “I can think of about 100 other things I could be doing with that time.”

And yes, I still think that.  So, there are a few different times during the day that I’ve found have worked for me.  I will do them in the morning as I drink my coffee and watch Good Morning America, while Derek and I watch TV, or right after a workout when I’m still too hot to shower.  Even though this does take some time to complete, I made time because it’s important to me.  Find that space in your day when it’s most convenient for you!

I hope you guys find these stretches useful!  My legs feel so much better after I do these.  I can already see quite a bit of improvement since I’ve started, which is really exciting!

Are there any stretches that I’m missing??  I hope you all are having a great weekend!

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