Do the splits

December 2007

This is one of those things that I'll likely never accomplish, but hey, it's worth a shot, and even if I don't ever get there, flexibility is an important part of overall physical ability. Also, it's easy to pull your groin in the spring when you start playing outdoor sports, but if you've already been stretching and strengthening during the winter, you're most likely all set.

I did a bit of poking around on the net and found a little book on stretching buy a former olympic althelete, so I ordered it... admitedly, I was looking for a bit more a step by step instruction on how to train to do the splits, whereas this book is more of a general book on flexibility, but I learned some good things:

1.There are two major categories of stretches: Static stretches and dynamic stretches. A static stretch is where you hold a position. A dynamic stretch is where you're kicking or lunging or doing something where there isn't really any "hold".

2.It's not desirable to do static stretches as your primary means of training (ie. Dynamic stretching is very important too), and when you do them, you should be warmed up really well, such as just having gone for a jog.

3.It is the five minutes after exercise when you're muscles are rapidly cooling down that you should do static stretches.

4.Strength is a vital aspect to flexibility. In the case of the splits, your body is programmed not to let you stretch beyond what your inner thighs can support... and you're muscles become weaker the further they are stretched, so it becomes partly a matter of strengthening your legs to hold your body weight while they are elongated.

Since I started running in October, I spend the five minutes after I get back doing side-to-side, front-to-back, and a few other stretches. Over the period of two months I noticed my front-to-back stretch improving, but the side to side stretch was harder to tell... oh boy... so far to go.