wikiHow to Do Side Splits

Three Parts:Preparation Before Doing the Side SplitsDoing the Side SplitsImproving Your Flexibility

Flexibility provides many health benefits and helps athletic performance. Stretching helps the movement in your joints and allows your muscles to work much more effectively. Besides the health benefits, the side splits stretch is popular in such sports like gymnastics and cheerleading.

Part 1
Preparation Before Doing the Side Splits

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    Wear appropriate clothing. It has to be loose and flexible. If you wear anything too tight, then you risk it being ripped. Tight clothing can also prevent you from doing the side splits completely.[1]
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    Warm up. Spend 10 to 15 minutes doing light activity and get your blood going by doing jumping jacks, jogging, squats, and lunges. You want to get your blood flowing and loosen up your muscles.[2]
    • Combine both cardiovascular and dynamic exercises to warm up. Start with an exercise like jumping jacks, then follow with a lunge. Cardiovascular exercises also burn excess fat and calories.
    • Run on the spot or dance for at least 5 minutes to warm up.
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    Do stretches. Do lower back and inner thigh stretches for 10 or so minutes.
    • Butterfly stretch. This stretch is mainly useful for box splits, although it increases all round leg flexibility. Sit on the floor and push your feet inwards, using your elbows to push your knees down.
    • Pike stretch. Do this standing up and sitting down. Stand straight and touch your toes for as long as you can, keeping your legs completely vertical.
    Note that the older you are, the more difficult it is to stretch. This is because your body dehydrates as it gets older, causing the lubricants between your tissues to decrease. This means that it will take longer for you to do the splits. [3] It doesn't mean that you can't do it though; take it slowly.

Part 2
Doing the Side Splits

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    Position yourself. Go into a kneeling position while keeping your back straight. Put the leg of your choice in front of you. Straighten the front leg as much as possible. Rest your back leg on its shin.
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    Breathe properly. Holding your breath as your stretch tightens your muscles, which makes it more difficult to perform the side splits. Breath deeply, but do not exaggerate your breathes. You want to make your breaths as natural as possible.
    • Inhale when you are holding the stretch. Exhale when you lean into the stretch.
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    Go slowly. If you lower yourself into the split too fast, then you can seriously injure yourself. Find a speed that works for you.. Always ease yourself slowly into the splits.
    • By going slowly, you avoid injuries. Not only will injuries prevent you from doing the stretch immediately, it can potentially prevent you from practicing for a long time.
    • It’s more important to practice consistently than to attempt to do the splits fast
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    Lower yourself. Once you are warmed up and feel relaxed, start to lower yourself very carefully. Continue going down until you feel pain or discomfort. Once you feel any major discomfort, other than the minor pain that comes from stretching, stop.
    • As you lower yourself, keep your hands to your side so that you can support your body weight.
    • If you feel pain after you are done with the side splits, then you forced yourself too hard into the stretch. Wait until the pain is completely gone before attempting the stretch again.
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    Continue lowering yourself on the floor. Once your pelvis is on the floor, and your legs are at a 180-degree angle, you have achieved a side split.
    • Do not bounce yourself into the side split as this could injure you.
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    Hold the position. Once you have achieved the split, hold it for as long as you can. Start setting time limits. Try to hold it for 15 seconds, then 30 seconds. Try to work your way to a minute.
    • Remember to always do the splits comfortably. Do not hold the position if you feel any major discomfort.
    • Straddle stretch (if wished): get into a straddle and try to touch your nose to each knee and then to the floor. Sit with one leg behind you and one leg tucked underneath you. Sit like this for a while.
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    Come out of the splits slowly. Ease out of the stretch comfortably and gently. If you get up too quickly, you risk injuring yourself. Breath steadily as you come out and relax as much as possible.
    • Cool down. Cool down by walking for 5 minutes or doing a few gentle stretches. Don't forget to cool down, or you will regret it the next day when you ache.
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    Practice often. Practice every day unless you are sore. Try to do small sessions 2 to 3 times a day. Find the best routine for your body. If you find that you get sore consistently, try doing light practices one day and heavier practices the day after that.

Part 3
Improving Your Flexibility

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    Drink water. Hydrate your body as much as possible. Your joints and muscles need water to be flexible. If you are dehydrated, then that means your body will be much tighter and prone to cramps and spasms.[4]
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    Cut down or quit caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that prevents your body from relaxing. It tenses your muscles, which makes it more difficult to perform the side splits. Some studies also suggest caffeine causes muscle inflammation.
    • Cut down on food with high amounts of hydrogenated oil, sugar, and trans-fats can also help in reducing inflammation.
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    Stretch while doing other activities. Give yourself distractions to take your mind off the discomfort while your practice the splits. For instance, while watching television, practice stretching. Be careful not to let your mind get too distracted and overstretch.
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    Take a hot bath or shower. Make sure it lasts at least fifteen minutes. This will help loosen and relax your muscles. Additionally, a hot bath or shower will increase your heart rate and core temperature.[5]
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    Use a foam roller. Foam rollers help to relax and stretch muscles. The roller can be used to apply static pressure to sore or sensitive areas. For example, if your hamstring is sore, you roll back and forth on top of the roller for 10 to 15 seconds at a time.


  • Most people cannot do a side split on their first few attempts. Don’t force the split. If you feel pain, stop and try again later. It will take lots of practice, but your body will be thankful.
  • Remember, you won't get it on the first try. But keep practicing because your body will get used to the position and you will be fine.
  • Try to get a friend to help you lower your self down.

Article Info

Categories: Splits (Gymnastics)