Don’t Forget to Practice Your Stretches!

 

Splits

For the past few years we have participated in a ‘Wall of Fame’ for those students who have pushed themselves and worked hard to achieve both splits and their straddle split. This year we have continued that tradition, and we are continually looking to add new names to both sides of the wall. We expect every dancer in all of our classes to work on increasing their flexibility on a regular basis – both in and out of class.

One hour a week is not enough to see major progress in flexibility, so homework is required to achieve the best results. So, for dancers still working towards successfully completing their splits here are some more excellent and safe stretches to do at home that will help. Remember that it is never safe to stretch “cold” muscles and it is of the highest importance to warm up before stretching. Some examples of good warm ups include: high knees, log rolls, grapevines, running, jogging in place, etc. The best way to accomplish all types of splits is to have flexible hips and hamstrings – these are some excellent stretches to help attain flexible hips, hamstrings, and eventually the splits:

  1. Tipover Tuck: This is an excellent way to stretch both hamstrings at the same time.
    1. Start by standing with your feet hips distance apart.
    2. Bring your arms behind you and interlace your fingers at the bottom of your back.
    3. Lean your chest forward and lift your hands up as you fold your torso toward your thighs. Keep both legs straight.
    4. Lengthen through your spine by reaching the top of your head toward the floor.
  2. Head to Knee: This stretch works on one hamstring at a time as well as opening up your hips.
    1. Sit on the floor with both legs in front of you. Bend your right knee and pull your foot into the inside of your left thigh.
    2. Reach your arms along both sides of your legs so that your upper body is laying over your left leg. If you can’t reach your hands to your foot, reach as far as you can resting your chest on your thigh.
    3. Stay in this position for five deep breaths making sure to relax your shoulders away from your head, and then switch legs.
  3. Standing Split: This stretch is great for both your hamstrings and hips.
    1. Shift your weight into your right foot and palms. Lift your left leg up as high as you can. Tuck your chin and bring your torso towards your right leg. Be sure to breathe and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
    2. Stay in this position for five deep breaths and return your left leg to the floor.
    3. Repeat stretch with left foot on floor.
  4. Pyramid Pose: This stretch is great for stretching both hamstrings.
    1. Start by standing straight up with feet together and arms at side.
    2. Gently step one foot about 3 to 4 feet behind the other and allow the toes to turn out slightly into 4th position.
    3. Bring your hands down to either side of your front foot and lower your chest towards your thigh.
    4. Continue reaching your fingers and hands behind front leg for more of a stretch.
    5. Repeat with other leg in front.

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