Proper way to stretch your way into a split?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by chocobebe, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    I have a question. I'm trying to achieve my front splits, but my back leg is always bent. I can always get whichever leg is in front completely straight, but never the back one.

    Tips/Advice?
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    that seems like it would be an issue of hip alignment and of flexibility in the hip flexor and capacity to elongate the hip flexor...it is difficult to describe the stretch for that on the internet...let me think about the best wa to phrase it and get back to you
  3. anniep

    anniep New Member

    I skimmed the posts... don't think anyone mentioned this book. You may want to check out The Genius of Flexibility by Bob Cooley. One of his main points (that others sort of mentioned) is that while stretching, you have to resist with the muscle while stretching, then release. For example, if trying to stretch into a bridge, tighten your abs first & do some sit ups, then go into the bridge. Then repeat. Same idea with the splits- when in the split position, try to squeeze your legs back together for a minute, then you will be able to go further when you release.

    Personally, when it comes to comp time, about 2 weeks before, I start cramming in the Bikram yoga. I hate it & the d*mn Bikram poses. But afterwards I stay & do the splits, etc in the hot room. I can actually see a difference in my flexibility in my dance videos. Its all about that heat!
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    agree about hot yoga
  5. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    there's lots on DF about this...search for the meridian stretching thread...

    i agree, resistance stretching is the fastest way IME to improve flexibility. static stretching is old school & the quickest way to injure oneself -- stretching an active muscle prevents injury and has a host of other benefits.
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    best hip flexor stretch i know (that one can do by oneself...it's helpful to have a partner in this when doing resistance stretching) is:

    1. on the floor, keep right knee on soft ground with your left leg in front with knee bent and left foot on the ground (if you lifted your right knee, you'd be in a lunge).
    2. keep your body weight above your right knee (do not lean forward) and tip/tuck your pelvis up to activate your right hip flexor.
    3. maintaining the above, raise your right arm straight in front of you.
    4. tip/tuck even more strongly and lift your arm high in front of you while you press into the activated hip flexor.

    Reverse sides.
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    the flexor stretch I do is while standing...I find that, on the kneeling one, too many people hurt their knee caps by positioning it wrongly to the floor....in the standing one, you go into a forward lunge and then tuck a knee in
  8. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    not sure what you mean by tucking a knee in, but i have always found forward lunges far more problematic than kneeling on a comfortable surface. but everybody has to find what works for them, personally...
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I like the stretch you describe as well but I know that when it is done in my class and in others that many people struggle with getting the placement of the knee to the floor at just such a spot that it doesn't bother their knee cap....as to te standing position (this is why I struggle to describe it)...ou lunge forward with one leg and hold that position, you then tuck the opposing knee in and out, raising and lowering the heel on that foot
  10. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    Thanks for the info, fasc and samina, but I confess that I'm having a bit of trouble visualizing it. I'm not a very visual person.
  11. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i will try that. sounds similar to something else i like to do while standing at the barre.
  12. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    getting down the floor following the description step by step may help...kinetic learning. :)
  13. leee

    leee Active Member

    I have nowhere near the flexibility that you lot have, so maybe IM DOIN IT RONG, but I've heard from two unrelated sources that flexibility only increases if your muscles are relaxed, no?
  14. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Definitely incorrect...and stretching an activated muscle is much, much safer because it will show your true range of motion during a stretch and keep you from stretching beyond what your muscles and joints are able to manage.

    Try a basic straddle stretch on the floor...sit with a wide V and experiment with how it feels to lay forward with a flat back, and then to alternate to the sides to try to rest your chest on your thighs with a flat back. Do it with relaxed muscles and notice the lack of support and control you may feel in your body.

    Then do the same thing with activated thigh and groin muscles, and pressing into the ground with your legs...you initially cannot stretch as far, and your movements are much more supported and controlled, protected against injury. But if you keep at it, comfortably alternating working the front and sides, your range of motion will increase noticeably as the muscle warm up and lengthen. Just this simple change IME can dramatically increase the speed with which flexibility improves.

    Experiment similarly with leg-up-on-bar-or-furniture stretches, comparing a stretch with a relaxed leg and an activated and resisting one. Just be very careful when it's relaxed because you can hurt yourself so quickly that way...
  15. This is interesting - I always found with this stretch that my quads inadvertantly contracted and then tried to go into cramp - so I don't do it anymore. But that was trying to relax my hamstrings.

    Are you saying I should do this with both quads and hams tensed Samina?

    I have heard of, and tried, relax-contract-relax technique (or is it vice versa?), as well as relax only, but not contract only stretching.

    Am trying to avoid quad contraction at the moment while I work out this discomfort thing though...
  16. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    there are diverging schools of thought but yes, you definately need to be warm before stretching...any stretching...relaxed, or contracted
  17. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

    Yoga is a great way to do that. In ashtanga, for example, you do the vinyasas surya namaskara A and B to warm up before going into standing poses and the actual series. You do need to be warm before stretching and it can be through artificial heat like hot yoga or through warming yourself up by doing something like ashtanga.

    However, don't forget that yoga is about a challenge with yourself. It's not about getting a split or being able to do a backbend. That's generally a side effect of yoga. Yoga is about self discovery and awareness and using different postures (asanas) to gain that awareness. If you use yoga only to get more flexible, you're running the risk of over doing it and injuring yourself.
  18. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

  19. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

  20. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

    I think it actually is pretty useful. Instead of using a block to hold your foot up, you can use a mat or wedge and adjust it to a position that you're comfortable with (so that you're in less of a split.) That way, you have proper form when you stretch. You can also lift your hands up to a higher position using props - like two chairs or yoga blocks.

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