My New Year’s Resolution for 2020 was to see how long it would take for me to get my side splits. My goal was to stretch every morning for 10 minutes and every night for 45 minutes. I did a similar splits challenge in 2018 where I went from not being able to touch my toes to getting my front splits in 5 months. Since then, I’ve picked up many tips and tricks that helped me gradually see the improvements I wanted. This time, it took me two weeks to get my middle splits! Here is my 2 week side splits progress.
My Flexibility Background
When I was little, I never thought that I’d be able to get my side splits one day. As a child, I honestly just wanted to be able to touch my toes. I could finally touch my toes comfortably at the age of 24 and that was a huge step for me! I promised myself to make time to stretch everyday as a way to heal my body from overuse and strain.
It was quite the journey, learning how to stretch properly, breathe properly and fall in love with the process of just… moving. It’s something we take for granted each day. I’ve written more about my front splits progress in this blog post and what inspired me to start my practice.
My Personal Side Splits Progress
In November 2017, I was about 8-9 inches from the ground. Holding myself in the splits position or even a lunge was quite painful (anyone who’s ever been inflexible would understand!). These were muscles I’ve never stretched – oh man, why would anyone do this to themselves.
In January 2020, I needed a new challenge so I started stretching for my side splits by applying the tips I learned from getting my front splits. At this time, I was 2 years into stretching consistently and about 3 inches from the ground. Opening up the muscles for my front splits really helped with my overall flexibility.
Stretching for side splits required me to change up my routine. I needed to stretch muscles in my hips, inner thigh and groin. After doing research on which splits was easier to get, I realized that the muscles in the groin area were muscles I normally don’t use or stretch.
On January 15, 2020 I got my side splits! (aka my groin to the ground). It’s not a perfect split by any means but training each and everyday helped me conquer any fears I had about giving a try.
How to Do the Side Splits
During my first week of stretching, I was confused about whether my knees should be pointed up towards the ceiling (similar to a straddle or pancake stretch) or pointed to the front (away from the ceiling) for the side splits.
I learned that the correct hip positioning to prevent knee pain is to have your hips anteriorly tilted and to keep your knees pointed up towards the ceiling. This position gives you access to a greater range of motion and builds the strength to hold this position. I practiced with my knees pointed forward then rotated then up to the ceiling when I was close to the ground.
- In a standing position, start with your legs wide.
- Slide both feet away from the centre of your body, gradually lowering yourself until your hands can touch the ground. To modify, hold on to yoga blocks for balance.
- Tilt your hips anteriorly. When you are as close as you can get to the ground, point your knees and toes up towards the ceiling.
- Breathe deeply and hold for 30-45 seconds.
Here’s a good video by Tom Merrick (1), explaining how to do the splits correctly:
Remember that training for flexibility is not a linear path. There will be days where you feel more flexible and days where you feel like you’re more stiff.