You could say that this is How to Stretch to Do the Splits Part 2 because I wrote a post about this topic before. My first post How to Do the Splits: Best Tips and Follow-Along Videos included lots of tips and 4 different follow-along videos. So why another one? Because I have been using a different stretching routine for the front splits over the last few months. I have learned a few more things and I wanted to share a new video to take you along. Plus, I wanted to introduce a new resource you can find on my blog, it’s my Stretching Guide.
A Few More Tips About How to Stretch to Do the Splits
Some tips I want you to keep in mind as you stretch to do the splits:
- Your stretches may look passive but they remain active. You are moving your body slightly and pressing in opposing directions to feel your stretches more.
- Use your breath as much as possible. Go further in your stretches when you exhale.
- Stretch for 15 minutes a day until you feel more comfortable and flexible. When you are ready, 30 minute a day is good practice.
- Use yoga bloks to sit comfortably in your stretches.
- Use a yoga strap if you need to.
- Stretch in the evening if possible. Your body is warm from your daily activities and your main workout is over, which means stretching won’t interfere with your performance.
- Work on inner hips flexibility as needed. That’s an advantage of alternating front splits and side splits flexibility exercises.
Guide to Stretching
Stretching isn’t just about doing the splits! For many of us, having a specific goal like achieving the splits or another cool yoga pose is helpful to stay motivated. However, the bottom line is: flexibility is an important part of your overall fitness.
Why You Should Stretch
To maintain your overall well-being, it is helpful to include as many activities as possible in your workout routine. One of those activities is stretching. There are many ways in which you can help the body recover better after a workout, but stretching is perhaps one of the most useful practices.
By definition, the fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, veins, and nerves. This tissue is built out of dense collagen fibers that run parallel to the direction in which the given tissue tenses.
The fascia connects bodily structures and also allows them to move smoothly and just like many other structures in the body, it can get tight. Especially during prolonged, intense workouts, it is highly likely that the muscles and their facia will get tense.
That tension in turn leads to muscle aches, stiffness, and thus, a decreased athletic ability. For this reason, implementing recovery practices like deep tissue massages & stretching is essential to sustain long-term performance.
Types of Stretching
In the past decades, stretching has gained a lot of traction in the fitness world, which is the reason why many gyms and fitness centers offer a wide variety of group training practices that aim to improve your flexibility, mobility, coordination, and balance.
Here are the main types that will help you achieve your flexibility goals:
- Static Stretching
- Dynamic Stretching
- Ballistic Stretching
This first type of stretching is without a doubt one of the better-known ones, particularly when people learn how to stretch to do the splits. Static stretching allows you to improve the muscle’s flexibility, to an extent where you go beyond its current capabilities.
The way to practice this type of stretching is quite simple – You start off in a comfortable position and gradually apply a stretch on the given muscle group. Once you reach the end of your currently possible range of motion, you hold the position for up to 20 seconds.
After the ~20 second static stretch, you go back to the initial position slowly, rest a bit and repeat the same thing – Gradual stretch, hold, return to the initial position slowly. The gradual stretch should be well-controlled and must not lead to sharp pains, but rather, a nice, relaxing feeling of the worked musculature.
Second to static, dynamic stretching involves controlled, dynamic motions that gradually apply more and more force to the joint and its muscles. This type of stretching also highly involves the contraction of the opposing muscle group, as that helps the one that’s being stretched relax further. In fact, if you follow my follow-along How to Stretch for the Splits video, you will see that I cue you to do just that in some instances.
And so, if we take the most common, bent-over hamstring stretch, your quadriceps would be flexed at the bottom of it, while the hamstrings are stretched fully. The more you contract the quads in that position, the further your hamstring will stretch.
Dynamic stretching is generally safe, because the stretched muscle group works with its opposing one, meaning that it is far less likely to overstretch and cause injury.
Last but not least, we have ballistic stretching which involves a more dynamic, quicker movement during the stretching phase. This allows you to stretch each muscle group way beyond its current capabilities and then return to the initial position.
This type of stretching helps strengthen your muscles as well as gain some flexibility.
Ballistic stretching involves more speed/inertial force during each movement. For this reason, the speed/pace of each bounce/stretch should be carefully dosed and controlled, in order to avoid injury.
These videos are excellent examples of ballistic stretching exercises.
Moreover, to learn how to stretch for the splits with ballistic exercises, check out my Instagram Reel video. These active stretches combine ballistic and dynamic stretching:
If you would like more information about stretching and how to improve your flexibility, download my free Stretching Guide.