How To Improve Your Splits

Stretching is a simple and effective way to help enhance athletic performance, dance performance, or your overall fitness routine. It can decrease the chance of injury and minimize muscle soreness.

Tight, stiff muscles will limit normal range of motion and prevent proper muscle action. These factors can greatly increase the chance of becoming injured. The benefits of stretching can be accomplished when flexibility training is applied professionally and routinely over an extended period of time. Do not expect miracles from a stretching routine - it takes time, dedication, and determination.  A certain level of flexibility in the hamstring and psoas muscles is required to successfully achieve your split and in ballet this level of flexibility is necessary to perform even the most basic movements.  This exercise will help you get one step closer to a perfect front split. 

Front Split with the Flexistretcher

Front Split with the Flexistretcher demonstrated by Melanie Hamrick of ABT. 

Front Split with the Flexistretcher demonstrated by Melanie Hamrick of ABT. 

SETUP

Begin in a lunge position. Take both loops and place them around the center of your back foot. Thread your OPPOSITE arm through the foam pad center and place it on the shoulder.

ACTION

  • With both hands on the floor, pressing the hips forward slowly begin to straighten your front leg to the ground.
  • Make sure to actively press your back foot into the loops to deepen the stretch in the hip, and keep the band taut.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

CUES

  • Make sure that the Flexistretcher center is looped around the OPPOSITE shoulder as foot! (Not around your neck!)
  • Make sure to keep the tension in the Flexistretcher for the duration of the exercise by pressing the back foot actively into the strap and pulling back the opposite shoulder.
  • If you lose tension, the band is likely to fall off your shoulder.
  • Actively engage the muscles and hold for 10 counts performing an isometric contraction.
  • Keep hips square and pelvis in a neutral position.

DANCER FOCUS!

 In a contract-relax active stretch such as the Front Split with the Flexistretcher; actively engage the muscles by pressing out long into the resistance of the strap, hold for 10 counts and then relax the muscles while keeping the position. Repeat this by actively contracting the muscles and pressing long into the straps followed by a relaxation phase while maintaining the position in correct form.

By using the methods of active stretching while using your Flexistretcher, you are simultaneously strengthening the muscles while improving mobility. In ballet this is an extremely beneficial way to work because you are able to improve strength with a more targeted focus. Developing the necessary strength to perform fundamental movements required in ballet such as an arabesque or développé à la seconde is equally as important as flexibility to execute properly.