Archive for the ‘Flexibility’ Category

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*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to www.drillobsession.com
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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.

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*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to www.drillobsession.com
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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:To start off, I’ll leave you this: 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. 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 usedfor 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!

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: I don’t have a better name for this one. 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. Now flex your feet. 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!

*Note*–more stretches have been submitted through comments; I edit this post whenever someone leaves a stretching idea. All the new stretches are at the edit section (end) of this article (and in the comments).
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 . . .

Comment if you need clarification on the stretches or have some good stretches of your own!

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. 😀

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!

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

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Everyone wants their kicks as high as possible. How do you get them there?

Well, the obvious thing to do is stretch. You can’t get high kicks if you aren’t flexible. Make sure you stretch daily, or as close to daily as you can. Stretching 7 hours in one day and never stretching again does not improve your flexibility. Gaining flexibility is a slow process that takes time.

One way to practice your kicks is to lay down, face up, and kick as high as you can. Hold your leg and pull it in to your nose as far as possible. Keep your leg straight, toes pointed. The furthest your leg can go is the highest your kick can be. If it is low, you need to continue stretching in this way. Pull your leg in as far as you can, hold about 8 seconds, relax, and repeat. Doing about 5 repetitions a day, both legs, is a good way to become more flexible.

Sometimes people have the flexibility and potential to have high kicks, but for some reason, they’re still not high. Why? Well, the flexibility is not a problem, it’s the technique. You can be extremely flexible, but still kick with flat feet, bent legs, bad posture, and flimsy support. These small errors can add up, and they can make your kicks lower. Kicking with flat feet (not-pointed toes) usually makes your kicks lower because it’s harder to do. If you’re having trouble getting those sky-high kicks but you’re flexible, remember to keep both of your legs straight, your kicking toe pointed, and your posture back.

It’s also important to stay in the same spot (unless you’re intending to move) while kicking. Moving around when you kick looks messy and clumsy. One way to practice this is to kick on a line, and when you’re done, see if you’re still on the line where you started. The best way to stay in that same spot is to think about it. If you’re thinking about staying on that line, you will be more aware of when you’re moving and going out of place.

Kicking is not only about flexibility, but also about technique. Both of these need to be practiced and improved in order to get beautiful kicks!

Comment and tell me if this helps!

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*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to www.drillobsession.com
This article and new articles are posted there!

Here is the link to this article on the new site:
http://drillobsession.com/?p=84

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

I didn’t explain actual stretches to you in my last flexibility article. 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!

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*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to www.drillobsession.com
This article and new articles are posted there!

Here is the link to this article on the new site:
http://drillobsession.com/?p=79

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Edit 3/23/07: Moira–in order to become more flexible, the best solution is to stretch routinely. Stretching daily allows you to build flexibility and maintain it the next day. This eliminates the amount of flexibility that you lose from not stretching for long periods of time. Some useful stretches are listed at the end of this article: http://drillobsession.com/?p=93. Important things to remember about gaining flexibility:
Stretch correctly:
Make sure you are holding each stretch for an appropriate amount time (1-3 minutes depending on the stretch), and make sure you feel the stretch where you are supposed to.
Stretch routinely:
Flexibility is something that you have to build. Once you stop, flexibility doesn’t just stop building–it collapses. When gymnasts stop stretching for long periods of time, getting into the splits becomes very difficult as a result of the loss of flexibility. Stretch daily if possible.
Stretch more than one muscle:
It is important to stretch several muscles. If, for instance, you are interested in doing the splits, you must stretch several leg muscles and not just one. Stretch everywhere that you must.
It takes time:
Stretching isn’t a one-day thing. Be patient so that you don’t lose motivation.
I hope this helps you gain the flexibility that you asked for. If not, please feel free to email me or post another comment at the new site (www.drillobsession.com).

Edit 9/4/06: 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. 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.

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.

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*NOTE*: 1/16/07–this site has moved to www.drillobsession.com
This article and new articles are posted there!

Here is the link to this article on the new site:
http://drillobsession.com/?p=79

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