Ballroom Dance > Proper way to stretch your way into a split?

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

  1. UMASSshoesandcostumes

    UMASSshoesandcostumes Active Member

    Adding to the develope discussion, I like to practice mine with an ankle weight on-- it's really hard, especially at first, but I feel like I make faster progress that way.

    In regards to splits, some things I did when I was first getting my splits in high school:
    1) Make sure you stretch daily, and go into your splits daily. Splits need to be held for at least 30 seconds in order to give your muscles time to relax into the stretch.
    2) During your daily stretch you can try to do oversplits instead of regular splits (even if you don't have your regular split this will help you get it faster, and if you have your regular split it will continue to increase your flexibility). For those unfamiliar with oversplits, you want to get something that you can put one or both legs up on top of while doing your split--when I was doing oversplits regularly I used a stack of books and then I could add a book when I needed to increase the height. It's going to be uncomfortable because the idea is that you want to stretch in such a way that you can get your hips below your leg line, but the angle seems to help people to get their splits faster.
    3) Try to keep your shoulders over your hips when you're in your split-- this isn't easy if you don't have your split yet, so get set yourself up between two piles of books (noticing a trend here?) or yoga blocks or stools or whatever you have so that you can put your hands on something other than the floor to try to keep yourself aligned.
    If I think of anything else I'll come add it.
  2. dlliba10

    dlliba10 Well-Known Member

    I have a technical question. When attempting a front split, is the ideal to have the front foot and back foot turned out in such a way that the hips are a bit more skewed, as in:


    (looking top down)

    Or is it more ideal to have the hips square and feet/legs not turned out?

    | _

    Or is it a question of what you want to do with the splits?

    EDIT: Can't really format my little stick figures the way I want them to. Hopefully the words convey what I'm trying to ask.
  3. UMASSshoesandcostumes

    UMASSshoesandcostumes Active Member

    I think I get what you're trying to ask. I'm going to preface this answer with: I am not an expert, what info I have is from personal experience from ballet classes throughout high school working my own splits and watching others work theirs. That being said, as far as I know there is no right or wrong technique to splits-- I think I typically do mine my back foot is turned out but my front leg is parallel if I'm just doing a split to do a split-- I feel like doing it without turn out in the back foot would be a little bit difficult on the bridge of your foot which would get a lot more pressure that way (doesn't sound particularly pleasant to me). However, once you have a split it's often useful to shift your hips around within the split in order to give different muscle groupings a stretch, does that make sense?
  4. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Start with the hips skewed and play with it until you are able to get them square. It's a journey... Going back & forth between the two in gentle pulsing or rolling helps increase flexibility. Be intelligent with it, though.
  5. Miss Silly

    Miss Silly Well-Known Member

    In gymnastics, you want the hips squared and the top of your back foot against the floor (not turned out).

    Having said that LOL i've "cheated" my splits by turning out that back leg (hips scewed) and survived just fine. It was never critical for me to have perfect technique (other than enough to avoid injury) since the reason i needed to do the splits was purely for aesthetics and not function. I know in gymnastics it *is* critical but i was never remotely at a level in gymnastics that was really beyond basics hahahah (that $hit is hard!).

    It's extremely hard to get perfectly square so take your time on getting there :)
  6. OreganO

    OreganO Member

    I know that in order to get my splits, my ballet instructor would have the class do pigeon from yoga (like a half split with the front leg bent) as well as deep, held lunges turned out and turned in. After we got our splits we begin extending them beyond 180 by using books, ledges, chairs, etc
  7. smidra86

    smidra86 Active Member

    Use to do the same with the stairs at my dance studio. Since I stopped ballet, I lost a lot of flexibility but I still practice my splits every so often and although I can't go beyond 180 anymore (I used to on my right side not left (I could never really get into one on my left side)) I can at least do both splits on either side.

    What I really like to do is slowly slide down into the split from a standing position. And control it. It really works the inner thighs. I also try not to lean forward or use my hands to help me so it also keeps my back straight and the whole hips square too. And then I try to hold it for as long as possible. Lately its only been for a few seconds and then I have to let go, but I want to work it up for longer periods of time.
  8. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    if you have a split never give it up... work it every day

    my wife still has all the splits past 180 and she is ...ummerrrr over 45:p
    SwayWithMe likes this.
  9. 5678dance

    5678dance Active Member

    For ballet, the ideal (which is not achievable unless you are broken, or a barbie) is for you to have your hips square, underneath your shoulders, AND legs turned out. but it's completely acceptable to keep your hips skewed, as long as you are *trying* to square your hips as much as possible. Applying that to ballroom dance, I an only assume that splits/kicks/etc, hips should *strive* to be square, but the turn in/out depends on the style? I'm not really sure, though!
  10. I think stretching is the best way to help you achieve splits. When I was still practicing my splits I sit on the floor, spread my legs as wide as I can, pull my body straight up, extend my arms up (in lined with my ears), point my toes and keep my knees lock while I try to reach the floor until my chest touches the floor. It is really painful at first but it was all worth it.
  11. theAnnelis

    theAnnelis Active Member

    Hey, everybody! I'm so late to this thread LOL but lately I've been doing some of Stacey Nemour's videos on flexibility (she's a renowned martial arts and flexibility expert), and I'd like to share what I've learned.

    First thing is, you really have to stretch your calves before you can get into the hamstrings (never thought of that). But the most interesting/helpful tip I've learned from her is that if a stretch is too intense, you don't have to hold it to loosen up your muscles - she says just go as far as you can for one second, because that becomes your body's new set point. And then you can go right back into it and push yourself a little farther.

    Also having to do with the body's set point - you can go as far into the stretch as you can before it gets too intense, then you can tighten up a little again, breathe, and go right back into it - the muscle will give a bit.

    And the way she teaches to start getting into splits: start standing on both knees, then, making sure you keep your back leg and foot aligned, flex your foot and put one leg straight out. And as you loosen up, you can keep pushing your legs out farther.

    (I hope that was clear!)

    Also, she has her own blog thingy on the Huffington Post. This particular entry is really helpful: huffingtonpost . com/stacey-nemour/stretching-flexibility_b_2240832.html

    She's got a bunch of entries here huffingtonpost . com/stacey-nemour/

    Hope this helps!!
  12. slhull.13

    slhull.13 Active Member

    Thanks guys, that's really useful information!

    ;) you betcha 5678dance. Come to practice today!
  13. letsdance101

    letsdance101 Active Member

    Stretching everyday is a must or else you'll lose whatever progress you have made.
    I stretch our my calves and my inner thighs then I sit in my split for at least a minute. When I was first starting I would get a blanket roll it up and put it under my thigh and that really helped my split out a lot.
  14. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    I finally got my left splits! Yay! At least, for a little while. My hip flexors were sore after I got them, which I expected, but aftera few days, I find I can't go down all the way anymore because it hurts if I try to push myself down past a certain threshold, and this is after I've done my warm-up stretches and completed a good portion of my work-out. I was pretty careful pre-splits and stretched only when I was pretty warm, and having pulled a muscle in a major way before, I don't think that's what I'm dealing with here. What's going on?

    (I do intend to keep doing my splits and hip flexor stretches on a daily basis. I just can't do my actual left splits right now. It's making me slightly sad.)
  15. Lioness

    Lioness Well-Known Member

    I'm going to have to read this thread top to bottom...New jive routine has a split in it and I'm not even close yet :(
  16. Aura - is the pain in the hip flexors?
  17. This probably sounds really weird, but just thought I'd ask - when I hold a stretch for more than about 20 secs, it does something really weird in my brain. It is like a pressure in the front centre. If I keep doing stretches like this for a few days (daily stretching) it starts effecting my sleep, and makes my heart feel under strain. Has anyone else experienced this?

    It feels quite serious, and as a result I feel for the sake of my health I have to restrict my stretching. I doubted I would ever get my splits before, but now I can't believe it will ever happen.:(
  18. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    Yes, I believe the majority of my pain is coming from my hip flexors.
  19. Well you did say they were sore straight away after you got the splits - you probably did slightly pull them or something. You body is probably just protecting them while they heal, I'm sure you'll get them back in a few days. You lucky thing!
  20. Anyone got any thoughts on my weird brain thing, at all??

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