Splits are a kind of a stretch, and there are various types to them. Splits are the most challenging form of stretches, and an average inflexible adult who has loaded his/her body with years of tension and tightness will find it very difficult to train for it. But with the right approach, one can do it within a few years. And for kids and flexible people who are already flexible, performing splits in 30 days is highly possible. The benefits of doing splits are numerous, and it helps an individual to stay young.
Types of Splits
Though there are various leg split kinds, the most basic stretches to do before practicing splits are:
- Towel Stretch
- Sumo Stretch
The towel stretch is done by making use of a bath towel, rope, or belt. Here the towel is looped onto one foot’s underside by extending the other leg with knees straight. The towel is then pulled towards the head side with both hands and hold for 30 seconds. Then it is repeated on to the other leg. One should take care not to bend the knees here.
The sumo stretch is done by pointing the knees outwards by spreading the legs wide. The legs are placed apart about twice the width of one’s shoulders, and then lowering the back, the hands are placed on the inner thighs near the knees. One should take care to place the thighs parallel to the floor. The same posture is repeated 20 times and each time, make sure to stretch the groin and the back. The shoulders must be twisted towards the middle while pushing the hands.
Leg split patterns are many, and they are:
- Side split
- Middle split
- Front split
- Full split
- Standing split
Side split is also known as the straddle split in dance and Yoga. In martial arts, it is called the Chinese split and is executed by stretching the legs to the torso’s left and right. Side split is done by leaning forward and holding the position once the resistance on the inner thighs and hips are felt. It is one of the most challenging splits that requires more flexibility and done mostly in gymnastics.
The middle split is a variation of the side splits wherein the legs are towards the sides facing the top done by fully touching the floor in a completed seated position. This is the hardest of all, and not everyone can perform this. It requires total balance and flexibility with a focus on body mechanics.
A front split is a leg split where one foot is placed forward and the other foot to the back with hands on either side. The person must gradually slide the legs both back and front until they feel resistance on the hips and thighs. This front split position is recommended to be held for 30 seconds, and then it is done by interchanging the legs. It is usually made sure that the body is sunk a little lower every time it is done. One must do the inhalation and exhalation with care.
Standing split is also known as the vertical split, which is an intermediate yoga pose. Here the legs are stretched while the hips are balanced. This is not a very strenuous stretch, and therefore this is the first split usually taught to all beginners.
Benefits of Splits
Training oneself for doing splits showers an incredible amount of health benefits to the human body. They are:
- Splits improve joint health to get strong in terms of becoming efficient in all physical activities.
- It tends to increase the flexibility of a person and, in turn, enables both strength and conditioning of the core.
- Splits improve the body’s balance and strength, which naturally wears off with age.
- It increases the range of one’s motion.
- Splits create and give an individual more physical independence.
- Split holistically improves the overall quality of life from regular practice.
- Another significant aspect of training oneself to perform splits is that it prevents Parkinson’s and cardiovascular diseases. This is because it encourages muscle strength, better blood circulation throughout the entire body, and increases motor control.
- Splits also help to build your stamina.
- They deeply stretch the thigh muscles and open the hip flexors.
- It further helps to deepen body awareness and develops perseverance.
- A split develops the mental frame by helping in developing patience with practice.
Do’s and Don’ts While Performing Splits
The do’s associated with practicing splits are:
- Mobilize all the joints before performing the act of split. Simple and dynamic mobility exercises are recommended for a span of ten to fifteen minutes before the session. This will bring about a full range of body motion.
- Focus more on the areas with problems to fix them. Paying attention to the muscle groups and performing a few more sets, and holding the stretches for a little longer will bring good results.
- Breathing well with proper inhalation and exhalation is the key to performing splits quickly and effectively.
The various don’ts are:
- Don’t ignore stretching completely. Make it a point to practice it by pushing the body to its maximum flexibility. Please make this a priority as strength and flexibility go hand in hand when it comes to splits.
- Don’t push to the point of pain. As the famous saying goes, no pain, no gain is contradicting stretching. Even a small amount of discomfort will cause damage to the body, leading to injuries in the ligaments and tendons. This is eventually taking months to heal, and therefore warm up with the two basic stretches mentioned above has to be essentially followed before any split session.
- Don’t perform static stretches before the strength training sessions. Static stretching is no doubt the best but not before strength training. It has to be reserved for the latter. If it is done before, studies show that it reduces the workout output as it drains away from the energy.
Doing splits is a fitness milestone, and if it means a person can cope up with any split, he/she is someone with an impressive flexibility level. All you have to spend is a couple of months of regular stretching to see some progress and get it going by attaching the mind with the body’s dynamic stretch, known as the mind-body connection.