Splits in 3 weeks: FAQs

I want to first thank everyone for visiting this website, seeking advice, and leaving comments. You certainly aren’t alone in your journey to getting the splits down!

I want to take some time to address some of your questions that have been brought up in this post. Feel free to leave comments and ask more questions.

Some FAQs:

Am I stretching correctly if I feel pain?

Can you help me on cartwheels?

Do both your legs have to be straight?

I’m a freshman. What are tryouts like? Can freshman be on the drill team?

How do I maintain flexibility? I feel like after waking up, I’m just as inflexible as I was before I started stretching.

Is this post for all splits? Right, left, and center?

Is there a video to go with this post? Or pictures for each stretch?

Am I too old to start dancing?

What kind of stretches am I supposed to do in each session? Can I do all of them?

I’m not a dancer, but I want to do the splits. Is this site for me?

Are there other ways to warm up other than jogging?

How can I get my splits down even faster? Can tall people or guys do the splits?

feel like I’m not getting anywhere, and my legs are really painful from all the stretching. Is this program not for me?

Am I stretching correctly if I feel pain? No. If you feel that a stretch is painful, then you have gone too far (or haven’t warmed up enough). Back it up a little and try to take it step by step. You will get to your splits eventually, but not on day 1. Just be patient, and stretch to your limits (that is, to the point before you feel pain). Eventually, your limits will one day become the splits. It’s quite difficult to describe what a stretch feels like–if you’re having trouble with this, a great person to ask for help is a fitness instructor.

Can you help me on cartwheels? Sorry. In my drill experience, I’ve never seen anyone do cartwheels. Of course, drill is different from state to state, so if anyone could provide some good advice on this topic, I’d be happy to post it on the site and give you credit!

Do both your legs have to be straight? Generally, yes. However, some girls have a lot of difficulty straightening out their back leg. I’d say that if your legs are almost straight, then no one will notice any minor bending. A skirt can usually hide these little things.

 

I’m a freshman. What are tryouts like? Can freshman be on the drill team? Are they easier on you? I don’t have the answer to this question because all schools are different. This is a good question to ask your team’s coach or captain.

How do I maintain flexibility? I feel like after waking up, I’m just as inflexible as I was before I started stretching. This is a common problem, and it usually happens when either:

1. Your stretching session wasn’t long enough, or

2. You don’t stretch frequently enough

Try to lengthen your stretching sessions, or increasing the number of stretching sessions you have each day.

Is this post for all splits? Right, left, and center? Yes.

Is there a video to go with this post? Or pictures for each stretch? Unfortunately, no. However, if anyone would like to make a video of the stretches or post pictures, feel free to do so or email them to me. I could post these to help everyone else, and I will definitely give you credit.

Am I too old to start dancing? Absolutely not! Though it will probably be more difficult to get started when you get older, you can definitely start at any time.

What kind of stretches am I supposed to do in each session? Can I do all of them? This is up to you, but it’s important to pick a variety of stretches so that you are stretching different muscle areas. Doing all the stretches is fine.

I’m not a dancer, but I want to do the splits. Is this site for me? This site is for people who want to do the splits, but it’s mainly targeted to dancers. If you are looking to improve your flexibility, I think this is a fit for you. If you’re looking more towards leg training for martial arts, then this is probably not suited for you.

 

Are there other ways to warm up other than jogging? Yes! Whatever gets your muscles warm and makes you sweat is good, even if it’s jumping on a trampoline.

How can I get my splits down even faster? Splits take time, and 3 weeks is already quite a short time. I wouldn’t recommend trying to further accelerate this process.

Can tall people or guys do the splits? Usually, yes.

I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, and my legs are really painful from all the stretching. Is this program not for me? Not necessarily. If you are feeling painful from stretching, that’s not a good sign because it means you have strained your muscles. Thus, the reason you’re not getting anywhere is probably because you are stretching incorrectly. You may feel some soreness from stretching, but if you are feeling painful, try to ease back and not go so far. Be aware of your limits, and don’t go past them.

Ok, that’s it for now. To everyone who has gotten down to the splits: Congratulations! I’m proud of your commitment and dedication to your goal. To those of you still working on them: good luck and stay motivated.

Flexi-tize and strengthen those legs!

Since my post about stretching splits in three weeks has been so popular, I’m writing a follow-up.

Thanks to everyone who read the article and started getting those splits down! I’m very happy for all of you, and glad that you already have the splits. Thank you for everyone who commented, also. See, three weeks wasn’t so long after all!

If you don’t have the splits already, you should read the article posted above and work on them! Trust me, three weeks will zip by.

This article is mainly about how you can further improve your leg flexibility, get those kicks high, split when you’re in the air, hold your leg to your nose, whatever it is, you can do it!

Flexibility is just step one to getting high kicks. Leg strength comes next. So many people have perfect splits, but low kicks. It doesn’t make sense, but when you think about it, you’re using different muscles and need strength.

For kick flexibility, stretch your splits vertically on a wall (doorways make it easiest for balance). This is your kick position, so it will help most.

For kick strength, keep kicking! Don’t kill yourself, but practice some good kicks everyday. I’d recommend three sets a day of two eight-counts of high kicks (bounce, kick, bounce, etc.), meaning eight kicks each set (don’t worry too much about staying in line, but do keep it in mind at this moment, just worry about getting your kicks up). Running also strengthens those leg muscles, so a short jog a day will really help. Encourage your team to jog daily (for at least ten minutes) to warm up. Of course, jogging right after school doesn’t seem too enticing, but after a few minutes, it feels really nice. Building muscles in your thigh help keep your kicks high. Combining all your leg muscles help keep your legs straight.

Remember, remember, remember: do not hunch into your kicks. Sometimes when you bring your body into your kick it feels like it’s higher because your face is closer to your knee, but it gives you bad posture and does not elevate your kicks.

I’ve heard that stretching in the pool or in a warm bath might help, but I’ve never tried this myself. If you’re interested, you could try it out (tell me how it goes!).

This is just a general article about leg strength. If you are truly interested, I will be posting a follow-up to this one including a specific schedule/strengthening routine that you can use to help you out.

Ways to Improve Your Flexibility

You can always improve your flexibility. But sometimes you just don’t know how!

I didn’t explain actual stretches to you in how to become more flexible. So, here are some stretches that might work for you:

The Simple Stretches

That’s right. Just the normal old v-sit will help a lot! You just need to focus when you stretch. If you truly want to be more flexible, then work on being more flexible. Stretch and think of stretching that extra inch as your goal. You won’t become flexible if you don’t genuinely want it. Stretching requires focus.

The Split

Sit in your splits for a minute or two and feel the stretch. If you don’t feel any stretch, elevate one leg on a stair, step, or phonebook. You can also try to split against a doorway. Hold the sides of the wall to keep your balance.

On the other hand, if you cannot do the splits, then go as close as you can and stay in this position for at least a minute. Don’t estimate, either. Use a clock, or else you might think it’s been one minute when it’s only been 20 seconds. Pain impairs your estimation!

Spread Eagle

There are a lot of names for this one. Basically, sit in a v-sit near a wall. Spread your legs out as far as possible and pull yourself into the wall as far as you can. This helps a lot in doing the middle splits.

Stretch with a Friend!

There’s lots of stretches you can do with a partner! Lay on your back–legs straight; point both toes. Have a partner elevate one leg as far to your nose as possible. Try resisting your partner’s push for ten seconds, relaxing and pulling your leg in for ten seconds, resisting, etc. You can also do this by yourself by simply pulling your own leg in.

Here’s another one. Place your leg on a friend’s shoulder (be careful!). If that is too high for you, tell your partner to lower it. Your partner can then hold your leg and raise it up as you get used to the stretch. You should lean on a wall so you don’t lose your balance!

These stretches all work, but the best way to stretch is to use a mixture of everything. Stretch every muscle in your body.

The most important thing to know when stretching is to focus. You can’t just stretch without focusing and expect to become more flexible. When you stretch, think about stretching and nothing else. This focus is really what is going to help you.

Comment and tell me if this helps!

How to improve your kicks

A reader has requested that I create a routine for kicks similar to the one I created for the splits. So here it is . . .

As I said for the splits, it’s important that you follow the routine so that you can get the kicks that you want in the time that you want. This will take three weeks of strong commitment and dedication. Good luck!

Read the bottom (*) for information about getting high kicks.

To start off . . . See how flexible you are. If you can do the splits or are very close, that’s great! If not, that’s fine, too. Just make sure you are simultaneously developing your kicks and flexibility (see this post for lots of helpful stretches and a good, 3-week stretching routine).

Week 1: At first, practice kicking without music and without counts for twenty minutes each day, twice a day (including weekends!). It is important to do this twice a day because the skill can be easily lost. Doing it several times is a way of drilling into your mind all of the correct things that you need to be doing–this ensures that you will do it right when you are performing. The purpose of this is to see and feel what a kick is supposed to look like. If you can, tell someone to watch you, record yourself with a video camera, or do it in the mirror. Watch yourself both from the front and from the side. Here are the things that you want to accomplish at this primary step:

Good posture: keep your body stiff, shoulders rolled back and down. Arch your back. This is not an easy step, but it is a very important one.

Straight legs: legs should never be bent in a kick unless specified. Both legs should be straight when kicking. Most teams use one preparation bounce before starting their first kick. Remember to keep your legs as straight as possible during this bounce and use your feet (rather than your knees) to propel yourself.

Staying in one spot: Practice staying in one spot (unless, of course, you are supposed to move while kicking). Personally, I think this is the most difficult step. When kicking, it is so natural to stray from where you started; however, in a routine, this will mess up the formations and kick lines will become jagged or diagonal. This is one of those things that require lots of practice. Tip: stick a piece of masking tape to the floor and use it as your starting point. Be careful, however . . . if at the end, you end up at the same spot, it does not necessarily mean that you haven’t moved. This is why it’s helpful to videotape yourself or tell someone to watch you. Some people have a tendency to kick out of place and then pop back into the place where they started at the last kick.

Technique: Straight legs is part of the technique. For a front kick, kick to the middle towards your nose (rather than straight up towards your shoulder). Also, side kicks should be at a 45º angle from a front kick. The round kick (also called fan kick) is a little tricky. The kick should go in an entire circle (not just straight up and around, forming a “D” shape). Technique, like everything else, takes practice.

Adhering to team style: Several other details may be unique to your team. Some teams have their own “special” kicks and other teams may have certain ways to do certain kicks. Dance is about unison, so remember to ensure that you are practicing the technique from your team. The above details (ex: good posture) are universal and applicable to all teams.

Just a tip . . . Try to kick on the floor. Lay down on your back with good posture–your back should be arched so that the middle of your back is not touching the floor. Now practice your kick technique.

GOAL: Be able to do kicks properly. This week, do not worry so much about kicking in time or kicking up to beat with the music. Develop proper technique. While in the first week, you should be building leg strength from all the practice. Remember to work on your flexibility (for high kicks) by stretching daily.

Aaaah, one third of the way through! Now just two weeks to go. Stay motivated!

Week 2: So you’ve developed the proper technique. Now it’s time to start putting things together. You should practice 30 minutes a day at the least. Here are some 2nd-week things to work on and accomplish:

Kicking in time: now is the time to count out your kicks. Build onto the technique you’ve developed in week 1. Create a kicking routine or use the kicking sequence that is in the routine you are performing with your team. You should have technique already perfect from week 1. The goal now is to put that technique in time. It is a lot to think about, and like I said, it takes practice. Count slowly if you need to.

Sharpness: this is a secondary step of kicking in time. A high kick should be popped up and back down with sharpness. This requires leg strength, which is developed through practice.

Week 3: Now is the time to put the kicks to music. You should have technique, sharpness, and timing down. Now it is a matter of getting everything up to beat. Again, practice 30+ minutes a day is key.

Results for this vary depending on your level of motivation and the amount that you practice. The less motivated put less into their practice and get less accomplished. Become motivated and utilize all your practice time efficiently. Work hard and strive for the kicks that you want. Practice as much as possible and keep in mind the little details and technique because they make a big difference in the effect that you give the audience.

*Reminder: High kicks come from practice and developing your flexibility. Getting high kicks is great, but the technique (posture, sharpness) is much more important. It is easier to work at building higher kicks after you make them “better” by developing the technique. Once you’ve developed the technique, more stretching (to develop flexibility) and more practice (to build leg strength) will contribute to higher kicks.

Good luck and tell me about your results!

Problems with the splits?

Responses to comments are posted at the end of this article.

A lot of people have told me that they have one split but not the other, or are very close to their splits but just can’t get there. Also people have told me that they stretch all the time with no improvement.

If your splits are not improving, it may be because you are stretching incorrectly. Remember that you should warm up your muscles before you stretch. You should actually be warm and sweaty before you begin stretching. This requires at least a ten minute jog, if not more. Warming up is not just walking a lap or running a few yards. When you are warm, you can feel the stretch much better.

Remember also that you should be stretching consistently (stretch both legs, for instance, not just one side of your body). Touching your toe for two seconds is not stretching either. Feel the stretch, the longer the better. A couple of minutes per stretch is excellent.

Lastly, splits require flexibility in more than one area. Stretch everywhere, and make sure you sit in your splits (or as close as you can get to your splits) for a few minutes after stretching.

If you are still having problems, feel free to leave a comment and tell me about it.

Edit 1/18/07: My posts about stretching the splits are for all kinds of splits (center, side). All other types of splits (like splits in the air) are just like normal splits, except with leg strength added.

Edit 2/25/07: Kerry–for the splits, the back leg should be perfectly straight in the end. Don’t worry if you’re not there yet, it’s just a little extra stretching. Try to gently push that back leg straight. Another way is to try to sit up straighter because it pushes your pelvis down to the ground and sometimes straightens that back leg. If your front leg is close to the ground, then stretch until the end of the week to see what happens. If you’re still a bit off the ground, then try lenghthening your stretching sessions. Getting extra warm before stretching helps. The best stretch for getting your front leg down is to just go down as far as you can and hold it for a minute or two. Then do some other stretches, and try it again. Concentrate hard, and you will find yourself getting nearer to the splits. For tryouts, all teams are different. Usually, the majority of people who try out are freshmen. It works like this because people who are interested in drill try out when they are freshman, and if they make it then they’re on the team . . . if they don’t make it then they usually don’t try out again because they don’t think that they can make it. Anyway, they will not expect you to know everything. Anything that you need to know will be taught to you, and if it is not, you can always ask for help. Most of the people who have never done it before will make the team based on the fact that they have potential. They usually don’t judge your perfection, but they judge things like your determination, willingness to improve, listening skills, work ethic, and your ability to work with others. If they see someone who has no experience, isn’t perfect, but works hard, practices a lot, and wants to get better, that person will make the team.

Edit 5/13/2007: Rebecca–in my opinion, it is never “too late” to start. Making the drill team is largely about your commitment and dedication. It’s not about whether not you can do the splits; it’s about how badly you want to get the splits down, and how badly you want to learn drill. If you truly want to make the team, then your best bet is to demonstrate your commitment by stretching now and practicing hard during the try-out/audition process. If you need help with the splits, I’d recommend that you read this article: Stretch Your Splits in 3 Weeks. In the meantime, good luck with making the team next year!

Stretch your splits in 3 weeks – Flexibility to the Max!

After reading this, here are some articles I recommend you also read:

I know it sounds crazy. Have your splits down in three weeks when you’re still two feet off the ground? It’s possible, but you just need the time to commit to this. Before you read this, I’ll warn you that it sounds like a TON of time, but think about it . . . you want your splits, right? Why don’t you just get them now so that you don’t waste time thinking about how far from the ground you are? How long have you been trying to get those darn splits down? A year, perhaps two? Three weeks is not bad at all.

So, let’s get started (If you’re just looking for stretches, scroll down). Stretch where you feel comfortable, but not distracted. An area with a computer, for instance, might be a bad location, because you may be tempted to go on the internet and surf, which destroys your focus and stops your flexibility from improving. Focus and stretch as if you were meditating.

Week #1

Reserve thirty minutes a day to stretching (yes, including weekends, or else it won’t work. If you absolutely cannot stretch on one day, just make sure you get straight back to your stretching routine the next day). Warming up before you stretch is very helpful because it makes your muscles warm and easy to stretch. The warmer you are, the easier the stretch will be; thus, the more success you will have in getting those splits down. And here are your daily stretching routines:

Session 1: 15 minutes

I recommend that you get this over in the morning, before you go to school, work, or whatever you do during the daytime. After warming up, start your stretches. I recommend that you stretch one minute (at the very least) for each stretch. Remember: the splits are not dependent on one muscle. Helpful stretches are listed and described at the end of this post.

Session 2: 15 minutes

This one I’d say to do before you sleep. Do not slack off because you’re sleepy or tired. Brush your teeth, stretch, then sleep. If you absolutely cannot do session 1 in the morning and session 2 at night, then leave at least 2 hours in between sessions. You need to gain flexibility, have some time off, then work back on the flexibility to regain it and improve it.

Week #2

Keep up with the same thing as week one, but now stretching time is increased to 45 minutes a day. That means there is now a session in between–session 1.5 should be done after school, work, etc. And if not, leave 2 hours in between sessions. You should really start noticing that you’re getting close to the splits.

Week #3

Increase your stretching time to one hour. This is same as week two, with another session. This is the between dinner and before bedtime one. The free time that you have after dinner and before your last session should be used for an additional 15 minutes of stretching. After the end of this week, you should be in your splits! Yipee!If you’re having problems or not noticing any improvement, try other stretches. Again, a variety of stretches is your best bet. Remember to sit in the splits, or as close as you can go (I know it hurts, but how else can you get it?).

Tip: Stretch when you’re doing an inactive activity, like the laundry, reading a book, watching TV, or talking on the phone. This should be apart from your sessions, which require 100% focus. Extra stretching is always beneficial!

Precaution: It’s NOT a good thing to be feeling pain when you stretch. Pain is different from soreness. The two concepts are a bit hard to explain in writing. In general, if your legs feel painful when you stretch, it’s a good idea to ease back a little bit. If you find that you are still having problems with this, the best bet is to consult a coach or doctor since they know best. Many readers have questioned whether or not they are physically capable of doing the splits because they feel that they are making little progress; I will refer you to this splits misconceptions article for that purpose.

Some helpful stretches

V-sit: sit with your back flat against a wall. Bring both legs as far back to the wall as you can and keep proper posture and straight legs. While keeping your posture, bring your back down towards the floor as your arms reach out in front of you (not down) as far as possible. Feel the stretch. Do this first pointing your toes, then flexing your feet. Try moving your legs out further as you go on. Also, you can reach out towards your right and left legs. Remember to breathe!

Straight leg stretch: Basically, keep your legs straight and feet together. Stand, and without bending your knees, reach down as far as possible. Put your weight on your toes (not your heels)–this feels a bit unnatural at first, but it is the proper way to stretch. You can also do this one sitting. Sit with proper posture, legs straight out in front of you and ankles together. Reach out with your arms. Do this both flexing and pointing your toes.

Sideways stretch: Ok, so you’ve probably figured out that I’m making up names for the stretches as I go along. Pretty creative, eh? Anyway, the “sidways stretch” goes like this. Stand in the straight leg stretch position. Now bring your right leg out in front of you (like you’re taking a step forward) about two feet. This doesn’t have to be precise, just as long as you’re close. Stand up, keep your posture back. Now reach down to your right foot, keeping your posture back and your hips in line. Your hips shouldn’t shift to aid you in your stretch. Go down slowly, and if you hips shift, come back up and try again. Go as far down as you can without shifting hips. After doing this for a minute, bend your left leg and continue stretching to your right. Now switch legs.

4 Stretch: Named because it looks like a number 4. Sit down on your butt and put both legs straight out in front of you. Bend your left leg so that your left knee is on the ground, your left foot also on the ground with the flat side touching your right knee, and your right knee is straight with toes pointed. See the 4 that your legs make? Stretch, with proper posture, to your right leg. Reach out with your arms, as far as you can. After a minute, remembering to breathe, of course, flex your right foot and continue reaching out for another minute. Switch legs, and repeat.

Standing V-leg stretch: Stand up, posture back, with your legs shoulder width apart. You can go a little wider if that’s more comfortable for you, but try to keep it as close to shoulder width as possible. Bring your straight arms between and beyond your legs–reach back. Also reach to your right and left legs. Reach down the center, too. As with the straight leg stretch, keep your weight over your toes rather than your heels.

Half squat: Squat. Keep your right leg where it is and place your left leg straight out your left side, toes pointed, as if you were doing the center splits with your left leg. Put your right hand on the ground to the left of your right foot. Use your right elbow to push your right knee out. You should feel stretching your inner thighs. Switch sides.

The splits: Well, if you want your splits down, shouldn’t you be doing them? :) . Never be discouraged by how far you are from the splits. Just get as close as you can and hold it there for awhile (a minute). Relax, and repeat a few times. You can also do the splits on the wall (preferably, a doorway, so you can keep your balance). In a few days, after doing multiple stretches, you will notice that you’re getting closer. Rejoice!

All of these stretches usually take about a minute. Above, I’ve given you much more than fifteen minutes of stretching, so spread these stretches out. Do some in one session, others in another session, but try to stretch as many muscles as you can each session. Don’t confine yourself to just one stretch. Do both splits in each session at least once (preferably at the end, to see your improvement).

Another thing to remember is to stretch both legs. A lot of people stretch one leg, while the other leg is completely inflexible. This leads to uneven kicks. It’s a good idea to get both legs flexible so you aren’t stuck with being good with one split and not the other. You never know what split you will encounter in the future!

Remember, you must focus on and want the splits, or else you’ll never get them. The wanting part is easy. Who wouldn’t want to do the splits? The focus is the hard part. Stretching in your kitchen, for instance, is a bad habit. You’ll see that bag of chips and box of cereal and be completely distracted. You’ve lost your focus. If you truly want your splits, you should be stretching like you’re meditating. Think of nothing other than those splits, breathing, and your flexibility. This is not the time to daydream. Now go stretching, and remember, think:splits, splits, splits, splits, splits, splits, flexibility, splits, breathe, splits, splits . . .

*Note*–more stretches have been submitted through comments. Some of these stretches are listed below.

Additional stretches and responses to comments (see also FAQ)

Edit 9/6/06

Thanks Hailey for the comment! Here’s another good stretch from her: “A good stretch is the frog. You lye on your stomach, and bring your feet together, with your pelvis on the ground, sort of like the butterfly in reverse, and the goal is to get your feet to touch the ground, still together, and your knee’s bent, and your pelvis on the ground. After you acheve that bring your feet closer to your body and do the same thing over again, untill you can have your knee’s bent, feet and pelvies on the ground, and your feet right against your body. It helps dancers with their turn out too.”–I have heard of this one and tried it myself; it’s a lot harder than it looks, but an excellent stretch. It’s a good before-you-sleep stretch, while you’re in bed and have nothing better to do. Now you can add it to your stretching routines. Hope those splits are coming along well. :-D

Edit 10/4/06

Nina, thank you for the comment. Sorry for the confusion! I hope that this re-explanation of the frog stretch might help you see what it is.Frog stretch: Lie down belly on the floor. Bend your knees and put your the bottoms of your feet together– push them towards your pelvis, while trying to keep every part of your body flat on the ground. It’s like the “butterfly stretch” except on your stomach. I’m not sure if that’s a universal term, but the butterfly stretch is where you sit on your butt and put your feet together, knees bent. You try to push your knees to the ground and feel the stretch in your inner thigh area. This helps with your center splits because you need flexibility in that area.

If you are getting little results, make sure that you are warming up before stretching (the warmer, the better) and focusing hard on flexibility and nothing else. Get “in the zone” (100% focus) when you stretch. No phone calls, TV, or music if it distracts you. Use a variety of stretches everyday. Don’t forget to breathe. Good luck!

Edit 1/23/07

Thanks, Evi, for suggesting the lunge as a stretch. I usually think of it more as a workout and muscle-strengthening activity, but it does work as a stretch if you let your muscles relax. Here is my explanation of it for those that want to try it: stand up, feet and heels together. Take a step forward with your right foot, keeping a large stride–this is just like the “sideways stretch” position except with a larger space between your legs (for average height, keep around 3-4 feet or whatever is comfortable for you). Now bend your right leg to make it perpendicular to the floor. This is a step before the lunge–the “runner stretch” (I just realized that I forgot to add this!). The runner stretch is helpful for your calves; hold in this position for a minute or two. Now, to get to the lunge, keep your right leg in position, and slide your left foot back as far as possible while keeping your right leg still in perpendicular position from knee down. This is the lunge position. Typically, lunges are done to strengthen your leg muscles (thighs, particularly). If you are interested in doing that, stay in position for about five seconds, then take a step with your left leg and do it again. Keep repeating (you should feel a burn in your thighs) and hold weights at your side if it gets easy for you. It might help if you squeeze your ears with your elbows or hold onto your hips to keep balance (if you are not using weights). To use the lunge as a stretch, place your hands on the floor on each side of your right foot so you can keep balance, ease the pressure off of your thighs, and focus on the stretch more instead of focusing on strengthening your leg muscles. There is a primary goal when stretching, and that is attaining flexibility. Take things one at a time–you can work on leg strength later! Anyway, the lunge is particularly helpful in stretching your inner thighs. Notice that, if you continue sliding your leg back (and let your front foot leave the perpendicular position), you will slide into a split! I found it helpful to get into the lunge position and slide back as far as I could into the splits until I finally got there. Hope that the lunge helps you!

Edit 3/16/07

Elphie, I am proud of you for getting those splits (almost) down! Great job with your stretching, and I hope you are happy with the results! That last inch or two will not be too difficult. The way that you get that down is by sitting in the splits for a few minutes (maybe about 2 minutes). Then, switch your splits so you can stretch the other side. Get up, walk around a little, and restretch. If you sit in your splits for just 2 minutes about 2-3 times a day, it will be there in a few days. Concentrate, warm up, and stretch. You’ll get there. Don’t worry too much about being able to pick up choreography. If you aren’t so experienced, it will just take more practice to get it down. Don’t stress if you don’t get the routine while it is being taught. Just try to remember all that you can so you can practice once you get home, and then go to your audition the next day feeling like you’ve worked hard and learned something. Best of luck at your audition.

Edit 4/8/07

Diana, thanks for offering great advice. Remember that flexibility is something that is developed. You may return back to normal the next day for the first few days of stretching, but do not lose motivation. Keep stretching with a strong focus. Soon enough, you will be able to see improvements. Good luck at tryouts!

Edit 7/22/07

Melanie, if you are scared to go into the straddle splits, just remember to slowly go into them. Keep your hands on the ground and slowly lower yourself. Once you feel tension, hold the position to feel the stretch; however, do not go so far into the splits to the point where you feel pain. Another way to practice the straddle splits is to sit on the floor in a v-sit position. Gradually pull your feet further apart. Reach forward with both arms to feel the stretch. It helps do v-sit with your feet against the wall, so that you can pull your body into the wall (or you could sit with your back against the wall, and pull your legs back towards the wall). Hope that helps! Thanks for visiting.

Edit 7/29/07

Charlotte, you should consider sitting in your splits for a little less than two minutes. When your knee starts to shake, try to make it stop by balancing yourself; if that doesn’t work, don’t worry! Get out of the splits, and then go back to them when you feel ready. It takes time for your body to develop the ability to do the splits. As for the grinding in your knee joints, you should definitely be careful with that. Make sure that your ankle/foot isn’t bent the wrong way because that could cause your knee to be irritated. If it is painful, you should ask a doctor about it.Melanie, this post is for all splits (right, left, and center).<

Edit 8/9/07

Hi Beth, you asked if there are stretches that would decrease your flexibility. Nothing that I know of will actually “decrease” your flexibility. If over time, you don’t stretch, then you become less flexible because your muscles have relaxed. If you are stretching properly, it can only increase and develop your flexibility. As for starting ballet, there is never a “latest” age. Most people start when they are very little because it is easier to develop ballet skills, such as flexibility and pointy toes, at that age; however, if you are committed, I believe that you can gain those skills. It will be much harder as you get older, but it is most likely still possible (for most people).Austin, most boys are able to do the splits as well; however, the reason it is harder for boys is because they are generally less flexible than girls. By this, I mean that a girl who never stretches tends to be more flexible than a boy who never stretches (I have no idea why this is so). Anyway, because of this, it takes guys a little bit of a longer time to get the splits because they have a longer way to go in terms of flexibility in order to achieve the splits. I did say that most boys can do the splits… please refer to this splits article to see if you’re capable.

Edit 8/25/08

I’ve batched up a ton of questions and addressed them in the FAQ post. From now on, I’ll be updating that page instead of this one. Check it out!

Anyone else have stretches or suggestions? Any confusion on the stretches? Comment!

How to Become More Flexible

For help on the splits, read Flexibility to the Max–Stretch your splits in 3 weeks!

You’ve been stretching what seems like forever, but you still haven’t got the splits down after a year or so. It seems impossible, and you start asking yourself if you’re incapable of doing the splits. Maybe the right question to ask is if you are stretching correctly, doing the right stretches, and stretching frequently enough.

Being able to do the splits isn’t just based on being flexible in one area. A lot of people tend to stretch the same muscles everyday, but never get the splits down. This may because they are doing the wrong stretches. Another possibility is that they aren’t performing the stretches correctly. Make sure you use a variety of stretches and also perform them correctly. Stretching improperly won’t do you any good.

Being flexible also requires a lot of stretching. There are many ways to improve your flexibility. You need to be stretching daily, for at least 15 minutes. You can’t just compensate and decide to stretch for two hours every Saturday. It doesn’t work that way, you have to stretch daily in order to build up on it. Your flexibility improves everyday, but it also digresses. If you stretch once a week, you’ll become more flexible, but by the next week, you will lose all the flexibility that you gained. That’s why you have to stretch daily, so that you build flexibility and don’t lose it.

One important tip for stretching is to do it after warming up. Your muscles are much easier to stretch while they’re warm and it won’t feel as painful while stretching cold. You’ll get better results this way and have less risks of pulling a muscle. Also try strengthening your legs.

Another tip is to stretch while at practice. I know you probably warm up and stretch, but while stretching, you can’t just talk to your friends and be in a stretching position while doing so. You have to think about stretching and focus on becoming more flexible. You can sit in a stretching position for hours and get no stretch at all. You actually have to stretch to your limits in order to improve your flexibility. After awhile, your stretching limits will expand because you are becoming more flexible. You will be able to get another inch down into your splits. And week after week, if you continue focusing, you’ll get it!

Just remember that flexibility is attainable if you focus hard and stretch often. Don’t let your flexibility digress more than it improves.