Proper way to stretch your way into a split?

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
if it isn't sharp pain, it isn't likely a serious tear(still a dr is best to determine that)...that being said, if you have some scarring there, it is going to take some time and some warmth and regularity of rehabbing it to get back to where you want to be...have you ever tried hot yoga?...I don't have much of it near my home but find it immensely helpful when I have an opportunity...and my stance on bengay is well known :)
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
usually (and I am not a physician, I simply have basic certifications in fitness which includes physiology components) a true tear will involve a more acute/sharp pain...ie. you tear will tell you not to stretch further, and it would improve terribly upon warming it up...minor tears/tightness/scarring is more responsive to warming up ....if you can afford a trip to the doctor for a few tests, it might be beneficial
 

samina

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the advice. It's a lot to take in because I am rather inexperienced. Could you clarify what you mean by active because I'm guessing it goes beyond physically warm muscles?
Active means "engaged" -- you're using the muscle while you are stretching it, as opposed to stretching a floppy/flaccid muscle not in use.

Most people stretch the later, they do not engage. Some excellent fitness modalities teach active muscle stretching, such as Kundalini yoga, The Bar Method, and Resistance Flexibility Training. Engaging the muscle limits the range of movement of that muscle, so you are far less likely to tear it.
 

samina

Well-Known Member
I definitely don't know how severe my tear is. All I know is that I can't go down into them anymore and that my hip flexors are sore. The pain isn't immense or anything, but it's definitely keeping me from going down into my splits.
Could also be inflammation as they are pulled upon by their opposing muscle sets. Ergo, the wisdom in working opposite muscles.

Aura, take it easy with yourself and cultivate the mindset that you know -- or can come to know -- your body best. If you listen to it, it tends to whisper what it needs. Find helpful expertise from experienced practitioners wherever you can. The gym is generally nowhere on my radar as a resource, but...I did find my resistance stretcher at a gym. A serendipitous find, indeed.
 

Aura

Active Member
Thanks for the advice sam and fasc. I agree that going to a doctor is the best course of action, but I feel no acute, sharp pain when I stretch, just run-of-the-mill soreness. That would seem to indicate that its a non-serious tear that has just occured because my body wasn't used to stretching in such a way.

I have done some yoga before, but not hot yoga. I'll have to research to see if there's anything available near my home. I'm taking a break from stretching for today, but I intend to do some light exercise on my tredmill. That way I'll still be working my muscles and warming them up.
 

leee

Well-Known Member
I have done some yoga before, but not hot yoga. I'll have to research to see if there's anything available near my home. I'm taking a break from stretching for today, but I intend to do some light exercise on my tredmill. That way I'll still be working my muscles and warming them up.
I'm by no means as well-versed in physiology as fasc or samina, but my two cents on hot yoga is that it's not for everyone, and certainly not me. I took a few classes in a heated (i.e. 90+ Fahrenheit) studio -- not necessarily Bikram-style, just a sweltering studio -- and loathed it. Furthermore, I've read about the problems with doing yoga in such a hot environment -- not simply slipping because of the sweat, which I had real worries about when I tried it -- but the heat increases the possibility of over-stretching yourself.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
would agree that if one has low tolerance to heat, you wouldn't want to start out with bikram(which I think is usually over 100 degrees...correct me if I am wrong)...but there are other not as heated venues which, if stiff, I find to be very helpful...certainly if you sweat a lot(as I do) you need to bring a towel in addition to your mat....or it will become a slip n slide:eek:
 

llamasarefuzzy

Well-Known Member
Yup- bikram is usually done in a room called the "torture chamber" heated to (at least at my studio) about 105 with high humidity as well. I absolutely adore it, and regular yoga just seems like a let down now. It allows you to get much deeper in the stretch, which is very nice. You absolutely need a towel on your mat, preferably one that sticks to the mat (yogitoes works well). A regular towel will work okay too- just make sure its long enough to do a down-dog. Sprinkling a little water on the edges helps keep it in place. Bring lots of water- I usually bring one of the 1 L nalgenes and that is perfect.
 

Aura

Active Member
Responding to leee's comment, I did some research for some possible facilities, and seeing how hot they can keep the room definitely daunted me. Plus, I am not an experienced yoga practitioner. I've did some yoga poses alongside a yoga video with my classmates when I did a dance class my senior year of high school. Other than that, I have no experience. Along with yoga, I'm also considering a pilates class to improve strength and flexibility. I'm guessing there are differences between the two but I'm not sure what they are? Do any of you all know, and would you recommend one over the other?
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
I did hot yoga on my third ever class...unless you go to an advanced class, it isn't as scary as it seems...just talk to the staff first...pilates is good for core...i don't find it to be particularly good at increasing my flexibility
 

llamasarefuzzy

Well-Known Member
Yup, I agree with fasc- pilates is great for strength, yoga is great for flexibility. I find a combination of the both the be helpful. Also- if you can find a studio with hot pilates- its quite the workout:rolleyes:
 

Aura

Active Member
Okay, thanks. I'll keep that in mind as I go about searching. I would say "one last question", but those who know me understand my questions tend to be rather endless, so my apologies. Do you have any dynamic stretches you'd recommend? I used to be a runner, so I'm vaguely familiar with how they work. For example, before we got to the main portion of our workout, we'd do butt-kicks, high-knees, mobile lunges, and what our track captain called "Stalins" (Don't ask why he called them that.), which was basically kicking our legs forward completely straight while progressing foward.
 
Quick question for those who have achieved the splits - how can you tell if your hamstrings are 'done', i.e. stretched long enough to achieve the splits - aside form the obvious?

I am a good 6 inches plus off the floor from achieving the splits (front/back, not box) - I would guess there is no way my hamstrings can be stretched enough yet. But after I stretch them they feel too long. By that I mean, when I just stand up straight, I feel like I have no support for my knees from the hamstrings. To stop my knees from locking back I have to slightly bend my knees and get all the support from my quads. Has anyone else experienced this?

Could it possibly be that my hamstrings are long enough for splits, but something else, e.g. hip flexors being too tight, is what is stopping me from achieving the splits?
 

samina

Well-Known Member
Okay, thanks. I'll keep that in mind as I go about searching. I would say "one last question", but those who know me understand my questions tend to be rather endless, so my apologies. Do you have any dynamic stretches you'd recommend? I used to be a runner, so I'm vaguely familiar with how they work. For example, before we got to the main portion of our workout, we'd do butt-kicks, high-knees, mobile lunges, and what our track captain called "Stalins" (Don't ask why he called them that.), which was basically kicking our legs forward completely straight while progressing foward.
I don't do dynamic stretches in the way I see them described, so I've got no suggestions in that area.

I do active stretching with pulsed movement, which is different.
 

samina

Well-Known Member
I am a good 6 inches plus off the floor from achieving the splits (front/back, not box) - I would guess there is no way my hamstrings can be stretched enough yet. But after I stretch them they feel too long. By that I mean, when I just stand up straight, I feel like I have no support for my knees from the hamstrings. To stop my knees from locking back I have to slightly bend my knees and get all the support from my quads. Has anyone else experienced this?

Could it possibly be that my hamstrings are long enough for splits, but something else, e.g. hip flexors being too tight, is what is stopping me from achieving the splits?
Are you doing any stretching & strengthening of the opposite muscle sets? They work in pairs/opposites. There's much mention of that in this thread. :)
 
how are you stretching?
After I've cycled to work, I first give my quads a little stretch - standing up straight, bend knee and hold foot to bum, then push against hand with foot. Then I stretch hammies - from standing up straight, place one foot on table, lean forward to touch toes, hold for 20 breaths, try to keep hamstrings contracted (isometric stretch?). Repeat on other leg.
 

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