You'd have to be crazy to attempt the splits without doing some type of warm up first. Not only do you put yourself at risk of pulling a muscle and doing permanent damage, but it just plain hurts to sink into the splits without first lengthening the muscles that are going to be doing the work. If you're a gymnast or yoga lover, your coach or teacher may have a warm-up routine for you to follow, but if you're on your own, you can follow the basic routine of warming up the muscles with light cardio then stretching them dynamically and statically.
Jog, run, walk, or cycle lightly for five to 10 minutes, or until you've broken a light sweat. This gets your heart pumping, increasing blood flood and delivering oxygen to your muscles.
Perform dynamic stretches that mimic the splits, such as leg kicks, leg circles or a series of leaps and jumps across the room.
Perform the bend-over stretch. Stand with your feet together and bend forward at the waist, allowing your upper body to hang down toward the floor. Grab the backs of your legs to sink deeper into the stretch. As an alternative, sit on the floor and allow your chest to fall down over your thighs.
Perform the straddle stretch with both legs spread wide. Sit down on the floor, open your legs wide, point your toes and lean forward, reaching your arms out in front of you as you sink your chest toward the floor. Scoot your butt forward a little further as you loosen up, keeping your legs in the same position so that you're getting a deeper stretch every time you scoot. Also lay your chest over each leg to stretch each leg and hip further.
Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, or until you feel your muscles start to "give." Don't hold your stretches longer than a few minutes at a time, as that can do damage to your connective tissue, advises the Dance Advantage website.
Tips & Warnings
- Stop stretching if you start to feel any pain.
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