3 Flexibility Moves & Progress Pics
Flexibility is trickier than it looks! But it is a key element to reaching two of my three goals this year. (1- Do a bodybuilding fitness competition that includes a 2 minute gymnastics/strength routine, and 2- Do a pole fitness competition…the 3rd goal is to do stand up comedy at an open mic night; I figure after attempting goals 1 & 2 I should have a lot of material to work with.)
Splits are a mandatory move for both pole and fitness competitions, so I’ve been working on them with dance instructor Dez Raven, who teaches at Inner Diva Studios. She’s also doing the choreography for my audition tape, which is due in four (4) weeks. Yikes! (If you ever wanted to try a fun women’s only pole ballet class and/or work on your flexibility, you can reach her at: email@example.com. She’s awesome!)
For your reference, this is what I could do in September, with no prior flexibility training.
Here’s where I was before going on Christmas vacation:
And below are some stretches to do if you ever had in inkling to do side or straddle splits. DISCLAIMER – Just because I do this stuff, doesn’t necessary mean you should. Always check with a doctor before doing this or any exercise. This post is for information purposes only.
3 Flexibility Stretches for Learning How to Do Splits
Before doing any stretching, you always need to warm up your muscles so you don’t hurt yourself. My warm up today included running in the studio for about 5 minutes, and then doing 75 jumping jacks. I did this wearing my sweat pants and sweat jacket.
1. Straddle Stretch Against the Wall. Lie down with your booty against the wall and your legs up. Slowly open your legs into a straddle as wide as you can comfortably go and hold the position for about 2 minutes. Try to point your toes and keep your legs as straight as possible. Then, lightly press down your inner thighs to stretch deeper. Remember: Do not overstretch, you could pull a muscle. Hold for another 2 minutes. You will feel gravity lightly tug your legs closer to the floor. To get out of the position, slowly bend your right leg, bringing your knees towards your chest and roll to your left side and let both legs drop to the floor.
2. Runners Lunges. This is the prerequisite move for side splits. You do a lunge, holding for at least 20 seconds, followed by leaning back and stretching down over your front leg for another 20 seconds. I’ve been doing this stretch since the fall. Here is a picture from October. (Note: It is probably best to avoid stretching near small children and pets as they will want to jump on you.)
3. Wall Split Stretch. Stand near a wall and bend over. Keeping your hands and your left heel flat on the ground, slowly raise your right leg against the wall until you feel a gentle stretch in your hip flexors and hold the position for at least 20 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
Flexibility is one of those things that improves incrementally over the course of time, so if you are new to this, don’t expect to do a full split in a month. Also, like anything, consistency is key. It was difficult for me to find time to focus on exercise during the holidays, but now that things are getting back to normal, I’m supposed to do my flexibility stretches for 30 minutes, four days per week, allowing time off in between to let my muscles rest.
Hope that helps! How about you? Do you stretch as part of your workout?
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