The benefit, besides the ones already stated, is that you will be less likely to horrifically injure muscles and joints if you have trauma or accidents that force your body into unnatural or hyper flexed positions. They're worth doing, if you want, but it will take a long time of consistent dedication to get them as an adult. There are probably good tutorials online. You need to make sure you're using correct form or you can jack up your body.
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I could never do them as a child and was notoriously inflexible. At the age of 29 I developed the urge to achieve it. It was during a period when I was exercising several times a week - dance class, netball etc. So what I did, at the end of every session while I was well and truly warmed up, I just practiced going as low as I could, hold for as long as possible and then try to relax a little more into the stretch. I can't remember how long it took, but I did get there, to my own amazement!!! I think the key was learning to relax into the stretch rather than "work harder" to stretch more. I never understood this concept before childbirth classes, lol. So good luck, I think it is achievable.
Not since I was 14 yo. I was inflexible as a child, so my mom made me stretch and work on my splits after they kicked me out of synchronized swimming because of it (I was 8 or 9 or whatever). Basically, it was a regular practice daily until I could do all 3 splits. I retained the ability till mid teens (maybe 14 yo?). Now, I am 38 and even though I was stretching regularly for years my flexibility is very much below average (can't touch the floor).
Partner stretching is the most effective way to increase flexibility that I came across (it's amazing how much further your body goes when a hefty person sits on your back).
Exactly. And make sure you've warmed up sufficiently. NEVER try do to this 'cold' - get your circulation going first, gradually increase how far down you go and DO NOT force it. Your muscles have a self-protective, guarding mechanism and if you try to push beyond it, you'll do more harm than good. And be consistent - work at it regularly.
Originally Posted by Annieh
We worked on this sometimes in yoga, and I've never been able to do one. I started out very high off the floor, then used a block to sit on and relax into, and eventually I was only a few inches off the floor. Being warm helps, being stretched helps, and consistency definitely helps. Hip openers are great for releasing tension, too, so there is a plus to being able to twist your body into this rather unnatural position. I'm inconsistent in my yoga practice lately, so I can't do a full splits, but it was really exciting to be able to get close and knowing I wasn't going to hurt myself.
Yep, I can do front splits and I've got a pretty good sitting straddle. I'm glad I have them for my trapeze and silks work but I don't think they're needed for any health reasons past generally flexibility.
If you want them, read up on resistance stretching. If you can afford it, hire someone at least once to teach you how to properly stretch without cheating. I'm doing this now because my hip flexors and low back are hyper-flexible and I'm not using the correct muscles in some positions which causes pain later.
1. Get into a deep lunge, right foot forward.
2. Using the right hand, pull the left foot towards the glutes or vice versa.
3. Place the free hand flat on the ground by the front foot to keep the back straight instead of arched.
4. Push your raised foot towards the floor while the hand overpowers it and pulls it closer to the back/glutes.
5. Feel the burn going up the front of your leg. :-)
Dancer and dance teacher here, and I've read quite a bit into this!
The myotatic reflex is the pain you feel when you stretch beyond your muscle's elasticity. It's a protective mechanism as your body doesn't believe you are strong in that range of motion, and more prone to injury.
It's interesting because the most flexible dancers can often be the flimsiet, and they struggle with strength, stability and power. The most powerful and strong dancers have little flexibility. These qualities aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but the key to gaining great control over your movement is training both strength, flexibility and stability at the same time. There's a lot of papers on it! Read into passive, active and static flexibility, and decide which one you want to achieve.
My niche in my dancing eventually became my flexibility, and I make my students do the same stretches I did as a kid: butterfly, a proper lunge, sumo squat, and a handful of other stretches that don't have names. But it all starts from the hips. Try to find stretches that focus on flexibility through your range of motion in the hip joint, then focus on your splits later. You'll find they come naturally after this is addressed.
Don't hold stretches for more than 30 seconds. Research has shown this is ineffective. Move through your stretches with slow breaths, very yoga-esque. Continue with it and don't go too hard! That's how I pulled a hammy and was out of commission for a year.
Really? I was under the impression that stretching was relatively harmless... unless you are doing some really crazy stuff that would likely (hopefully) cause a pain response that would make you stop.
Originally Posted by Mr. Anthony