Those of you who are working on your splits, or those who have athletes who are still trying to get theirs to the ground, don’t worry! There are plenty of stretches you can do to get down the ground in no time. When it comes down to it, the splits are just a matter of stretching regularly. The more often we all stretch, the more flexible our joints remain. This flexibility will also help keep ourselves and our athletes safe from injury. The splits are a major test of flexibility, but there are simpler stretches that can be performed to make the splits themselves easier to master.
Stand straight up with your feet together and your arms by your side. Reach your hands above your head and continue to swan dive down towards the ground, hinging at the waist. If the flexibility is there, reach your hands to the ground and let your palms fall to either side toward the ground. Bring your chest towards your knees and feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings. If you have a hard time reaching the ground, don’t hesitate to bend your legs! From there, you can work on straightening your legs while still keeping your palms on the floor.
Stand tall, then gently step out one of your legs about three to four feet behind the other one. Turn your toes out slightly, and check to see that your back heel is aligned with your front heel. Make sure your feet are not directly in line; rather, they should have a few inches difference to help you balance. Once your legs are set up properly, bend your chest and chin down the front foot, reaching your fingers and hands behind your leg for a deeper stretch. Hold this and repeat on the other side.
This is like a lunge, but the focus is more on stretching the hips. Go into a low lunge position with your front knee bent, ensuring that your knee is above your ankle and not in front of it. Extend your back leg behind you. You can keep your back knee off the ground or lower it down! Then, bring both your arms to the inside of your front leg, lowering yourself as close to the ground as possible. You can come onto your forearms and bring your chest lower.
While this stretch may seem complicated, it is quite beneficial when working towards your and your all star cheerleaders’ splits. From a plank position, bring your right knee towards your right wrist and your ankle towards your left wrist, trying to make your lower leg parallel with the wall in front of you. From here, slowly lower your hips and body to the ground, stretching the left leg long and behind you. If this is too painful, pull the right ankle back closer to your body. Once you are comfortable, walk the fingertips forward in front of the leg and lower your chest to the ground.
Sit up in a pike position with your legs out in front of you, Once you are sitting up nice and high, place your hands behind you and spread your legs apart as far as they can go. Next, bring your hands to the middle and begin to walk them out until they cannot go any further. Try to lower your head and chest to the ground to really feel the stretch. Feel free to tilt to either side in this stretch as well, as your obliques will thank you! You can also turn towards each foot and lower your nose to your knee. Do this on both sides!
Your athletes’ splits will make jumps, tumbling, and flyer positions that much easier for them to execute properly. You want your all star cheerleaders to do their very best on that mat, and stretching is a large part of this. Teach them these stretches and tell them how to do them at home so they are working even on their days off from the gym. You’ll be sure to see improvements in no time at all.
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