Splits represent achievement in dance, gymnastics and sports. While the best splits appear to be effortless, learning to do the splits requires patience, persistance and an understanding of the human body. Side splits, in particular, take time to achieve. A selection of general stretching techniques, which include the adductor muscles, result in successful side splits.
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General Warm Up and Stretching
Before attempting stretching techniques for side splits, first perform a general warm up. The warm up can last for 30 minutes to an hour. Different disciplines include warm up routines. Ballet classes have exercises at the barre for 30 to 45 minutes, followed by stretching and doing front and side splits before moving to centre work. Martial arts classes, gynmastics groups and sports teams all incorporate thorough warm ups. These exercises ensure the muscles are ready for more demanding stretches for side splits.
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Martial Arts Stretching Techniques
The martial arts achieve side splits through stretching exercises. Dynamic, active stretching includes kicking your leg to the front and back, low at first, then higher. Static, passive stretching involves focusing on lengthening the adductor muscles. One exercise begins by lying against a wall, back on the floor, and legs pointed straight up against the wall, so the body is bent 90 degrees. Relax and let gravity move your legs from pointing straight up, down toward the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions. Rather than force a split, let your legs evenly fall open to the 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock positions and hold them to feel the stretch. Move to the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions as you become more flexible.
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Ballet Stretching Techniques
Ballet dancers spend almost as much time stretching as they do dancing. The blend of keeping muscles warm, combined with relaxing into stretches, provides the flexibility and strength necessary for demanding choreography. After initial warm-ups, dancers often use this stretch before side splits. Sit on the floor, the soles of the feet together and knees to the side. Hold your feet and slowly lower your head, bending forward. You should feel a slow stretch of the adductors along the inside of your thighs. Straighten your back as much as possible and sit up. Repeat this exercise slowly. Open your legs to 45 or 90 degrees. Lean to the side, over your right leg, then over you left leg; lean to the floor with your legs apart. Hold the position, and repeat again. Relax into the positions, without pushing or pulling muscles.
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Gymnastics Stretches for Side Splits
Gymnastics appears in sports competitions and performances by cheer leaders. After warming up, moving through a series of stretches at the barre leads to the side splits. Facing the mirror or wall, lift your foot and place it on the barre. Holding onto the bar and keeping your legs as straight as possible, lean over your leg, so your chest falls onto your thigh and your head touches your knee. Straighten your back as much as possible, relax, then repeat with the other leg. Side stretches involve placing your foot on the barre, and facing sideways. Lean over your leg and reach toward the barre, and hold this side stretch. Repeat with other leg.