Coaches, parents and athletes often ask me, “What is the best way to learn or improve upon doing the splits?” Gymnasts, cheerleaders and dancers are often the population that is interested, but lately this has become a great topic for baseball players, hurdlers and hockey players. Below are three great stretches to assist in gaining flexibility to improve your splits with some good reminders on how to stay safe while stretching.
Repeat the above three steps on each leg two to three times. Then slide into your splits and hold 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.
Many reasons exist as to why these three avoidances are important. The main reason is to prevent injury. Any of the strategies above may cause an athlete to brace, meaning the muscles guard against moving further. The muscles will refuse to move further because they are trying to protect the joints. Pushing too fast, far and hard when the muscles are not ready leads to injury. Stretch only until you feel a good stretch, not pain.
In the instance you are injured and do need to regain your splits, you may wish to use the “pillow technique.” Stack pillows on top of each other and do the splits over the pillows. Only allow yourself to go as low as possible without pain. Once this pillow height becomes easy and painless, remove a pillow. Repeat this over the course of a few weeks until you can safely and painlessly perform your splits again.
If you have a current injury, however, be sure to talk with your physician or physical therapist. Athletico has many clinicians that specialize in gymnastics, cheer, dance, baseball, hockey, etc. Find a therapist who meets your specific needs and can help you rehab safely back to your desired sport.
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Watch the video below to safely learn the splits.