As the creator of Polga (pole yoga) fitness program I truly understand the benefits of stretching and the positive impacts it has not only on your physical body but your emotional state. Stretching is great from the mind, body, and spirit. I know many people are intrigued by the notion of “doing the splits” so I thought it would be fun to give some “pointers” on this. Splits are a fun goal and an easy way to track your progress on living a more “flexible” life. The following is just a few stretches and tips that you can use to improve your “splits”! You will notice that in the photos are poles (vertical barres). Using poles as a tool for stretching is FABULOUS, and I think everyone should purchase one for your home! Check out our website www.polgapoleyoga.com
Rule #1: Do not force it
Forcing yourself into the splits is a very BAD idea. “You have to think about the fact that your muscles are elastic in nature, so if you stretch them too far before they’re ready, they can snap—think rubber band. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself, especially in your hamstrings and hip flexors, so you really want to take your time, so you can avoid injury.
Rule #2: Plan on practicing for months (your splits won’t happen overnight)
Patience and practice is the name of the game! The way you’re going to gain flexibility is practicing. Polga (pole yoga) Fitness Program recommends practicing at least three times a week, for 20 seconds at a time, to help your muscles release into the stretch. Realizing it will take a couple of months of regular stretching to see a significant change in your flexibility.
Rule #3: Get your body nice and warm first
Static stretching is something researchers recommend you do after a workout when your body is warmed up. Being warm will improve your flexibility, and increase range of motion in your joints, which can help reduce the risk of injury. This will help make your muscles more pliable and ready to be stretched to their maximum capacity. We recommend checking out our Polga (pole yoga) Fitness Program for a complete total body workout.
Specific stretches that will aid in you achieving your split goal!
Standing Hamstring stretch
The Standing Hamstring stretch stretches the back of your leg and hip flexors. In a Polga (pole yoga) class you’ll use the vertical barre, pole.
How to: Place your right foot on top of a bench, counter, or vertical ballet barre (polga pole), directly in front of your right hip. Your left foot should be directly under your left hip. Keeping your chest lifted, gently bend forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your hamstring. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat two to three times.
The forward fold is really great for opening up the backs of your legs.
How to: Stand with feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips, your spine tall and a soft bend in your knees. Lift your butt toward the air as you fold your torso over your legs, bringing your chest as close to your legs as possible and the crown of your head toward the mat. Lengthen with each inhale by reaching for the floor; relax and settle into the pose with each exhale. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat two to three times.
“This is a great way to stretch the back of your thigh, the hamstrings, which can get very tight because we sit so much during the day. And this stretch isn’t that far away from doing the full splits.”
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Step forward with your right foot. Bend forward from the waist and press your fingertips to the floor on each side of your right foot. Bend your knees slightly and step back with your left leg into a low lunge. Let your left shin rest on the floor, and sink your hips low. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat two to three times.
How to do the splits
From a low lunge position, extend your front leg and shift your weight back. This will stretch the other hamstring.
From here, try sliding your back leg back behind you. Then, using your hands (or blocks) as buffers, lower your body down towards the floor until you start to feel a pull in your hamstring.
Once you can finally reached the floor, make sure your core is engaged, to help you stay upright. Have your chest lifted, with your shoulders over your hips, and your gaze straightforward. This way, you’re not collapsing forward. Also try to square your hips.
As you’re learning, your legs will be bent but the goal is to get your legs completely straight.
To learn more about stretching and “splitting” check out our website www.polgapoleyoga.com.
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