How to Perform Relaxed Stretches (for Splits) Properly

A quick guide on how to properly perform relaxed stretching in order to gain definite results and zero injuries.

Steps

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    Sit down and open your legs as wide as possible.
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    Place your hands on the floor behind you and lift your butt off the floor.
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    Keep one foot anchored (imagine a pin has been hammered through the ankle into the ground - do not move that foot).
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    Push the other foot sideways. It may help to imagine you are "pushing the walls apart." Push from your hip - look down at your pelvis and focus on increasing the angle between your thighs.
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    When you have pushed as far as you can, without pain, sit down on the floor and wait. Breathe into your muscles.
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    Wait for as long as it takes for the tension to disappear from your adductors (inner thigh muscles - adductor magnus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, pectineus and gracilis). This may take from 10 seconds to several minutes - do not count.
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    When the tension has disappeared, lift your butt off the floor and increase the stretch. Continue this stretch/wait cycle until you cannot increase the stretch any further.
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    When you can't open your hips/legs any further, without force, slowly come out of the stretch.
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    Repeat for as many sets as it takes to reach your maximum limit for that stage of training. Once you are not making further gains, stop.

Tips

  • Do not perform this routine when you are stretched for time (excuse the pun). The best time and place to stretch is at home in front of the TV, when you feel less competitive and you are not in a rush.
  • Perform once per day after all of your physical activities.
  • Do not use this method for forward bending stretches. Otherwise, you will loosen the ligaments of your back and cause spinal deformities (you have been warned).
  • Do not count or time yourself in the stretch. Tension in your muscles, like everything in your body, gets tired. You are not physically elongating your muscles - you are simply waiting for the tension to disappear, then picking up the slack.
  • If you feel sharp or shooting pain, stop immediately. You should be feeling discomfort, not pain.
  • Do not get eager and force the stretch. This will produce zero gains and many injuries.
  • Make sure you warm up thoroughly before doing this, or any other, stretch for flexibility.
  • Use mental imagery to help you relax. Breathe slow and deep, and imagine the oxygen flowing through your hamstrings and inner thighs. Or think of a hot towel and imagine it wrapped around your target muscles - heat helps to relax muscle fibers. Or simply think of the most peaceful place you have ever visited.

Warnings

  • Do not continue the stretch if your muscles start to spasm.
  • Do not force yourself into the stretch, or push yourself too far. Remember, the feeling should be of discomfort (until the muscles relax), NOT pain. Again, muscle tears can result.
  • Do not count or time yourself in the stretch. Relax and breathe.
  • Never stretch without thoroughly warming up your muscles first. You will be at risk of muscle tears, pulls, and strains.

Article Info

Categories: Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility