Before you attempt any of the below exercises, ensure you are warmed up and stretched. We can’t just jump into the splits and hope for the best – they take time and preparation. So, get your skipping rope out or run around the block for 5 minutes. Now stretch; focusing on your legs and hips.
It’s time to nail your party trick!
Hold each exercise for 1 – 2 minutes, always pointing your toes and keeping your legs straight.
Warning: you will feel sore… and this is okay!
ONE – I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! Etc!
Mind over matter guys – don’t underestimate the power of your mind when attempting the splits. It’s easy to say it’s too hard and give up or convince yourself that your body wasn’t made for the splits. This is all negative self-talk and you need to get rid of it! Imagine saying those things to your best friend… you wouldn’t! So, don’t do it to yourself.
TWO – Assisted splits on your back
For this stretch you will either need a theraband or a best friend/sibling/parent to help. Lying flat on your back, keep one leg on the floor and use your arms to pull the other leg as far into the splits as you can while keeping your legs straight and back still – hold for 30 seconds. Now either wrap your theraband around your ankle, or ask your helper to keep your leg in position while you push against them for 10 seconds, release and let your split go further. Repeat this exercise three times. If you have two therabands/helpers, you can adjust this stretch for middle splits too!
THREE – Breathe
Yes, I know it may sound obvious, but so many of us tend to hold our breath while we’re stretching. This leads to tense muscles which does not help our splits! Remember to RELAX! Breathe slowly and deeply when you stretch, I like to try and take my splits deeper every time I exhale, while focusing on lengthening my legs rather than lowering to the ground.
FOUR – No need for fancy equipment – just use your wall!
Make sure your feet/socks are clean for this one kiddos! Start down in a crouched position facing away from the wall, with your feet as close to the wall as you can get, now with your hands positioned completely flat on the ground, raise one of your legs up to the ceiling and use your hips, shoulders, and hands to encourage both of your legs to be flat on the wall. You may have to walk your hands further out. This is an assisted version of what we call a penché (pronounced pahn-shay). Another way to use your wall is to lay on your back with your legs shooting to the roof, scoot your bottom as close as you can to the wall and now relax your legs out to the side and let gravity do its thang!
FIVE – Eat, sleep, split, REPEAT
Doing the splits once a day hurts less than doing them once a week! It’s like most things in life – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So, try incorporating the splits into your daily schedule, maybe every night before you go to sleep, or while you’re watching your favourite TV show… if you’re really talented you could even try it while you brush your teeth (DISCLAIMER: DS will take no responsibility for toothpaste being dropped on your carpet/bed/slippers!).
SIX – Over-splits!
This stretch is especially helpful when you just can’t seem to get rid of those last 5cms between you and the floor. The trick is to do the splits with your front leg raised on a pillow or a step and with the help of our ever-present friend gravity, this position will allow a deeper stretch in your splits. Once you have held that for 1-2 minutes, try your regular splits on the floor and voila – your splits should have deepened significantly if not be completely flat. Here’s a little bit of inspo below for how far you can take this!
Yes – happy dance! Now keep up the good work.
No – Keep trying, your persistence will pay off! It will take some of us a couple of weeks and it might take others a couple of months. You can do it!
Happy stretching! X