I wish there was a magic stretch to help all dancers perfect their splits. For some getting the splits takes no work at all, and for others it seems as if they aren’t any closer to their splits than they were 1 week, 1 month or even 1 year ago.
After studying with great instructors and learning more about the body, I believe that the best way to get the splits down is by using a mixture of stretches to increase your overall flexibility. It’s important to remember that the splits require the flexibility of various muscles; therefore, warming up the whole body before plopping down into your split is the key to success. By doing this you allow oxygen to enter the body, increasing blood flow, and essentially increasing your overall flexibility.
Stretching Appetizers (try some of these prior to stretching):
- Walking in various directions & levels (front, back, sideways, relevè, pliè)
- Skipping and running in various directions
- Body sways (standing in 2nd or 4th position allowing your body to sway front, back, side to side)
- Walking with knee lifts
- Alternate standing toe touches
- Arms circles
Stretching Main Course (after warming up concentrate on deeper stretching)
- Standing and sitting straddle stretch (hamstring, sides, back)
- Runner’s lunge (hips)
- Side lunges (inner thigh, calves)
- Standing and sitting pike stretch (hamstring, calves)
- Hurdle stretch (hamstring, inner thigh)
- Laying and standing quad stretch (quadriceps, hips)
- Spine twist with hip stretch (spine, outer hip)
- Standing/Sitting right/left split (hamstring, hips)
- Straddle stretch (center split)
- Wall straddle stretch (center split)
Click on the photos below for specific instructions.
Remember that you only need to hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Holding a stretch for longer does not mean that you’ll become more flexible quicker. In fact holding stretches for a longer period of time can actually cause damage to you body; putting too much pressure on ligaments and muscles can cause a variety of problems that you just don’t want to worry about.
Be patient, be dedicated, be diligent, and most importantly…be careful. If you are all these things your split is sure to come!
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