Wednesday, September 8, 2010
When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a Solid Gold Dancer. These women were so awesome! The costumes! The legs! The hair! The flexibility! Every week I would turn on the TV, move the coffee table out of the way and dance along with the show. I usually could follow their moves fairly successfully, with one notable exception: The splits. I was always in awe of how these women could effortlessly slide down to the floor in the splits; as easily as we mere mortals bend our knee. I was determined to do the splits as well.
Like a lot of young girls, I took dance lessons. Ballet, Jazz and the ubiquitous, and pointless, Tap Dancing. After years of dancing and stretching I still couldn't do the splits. The closest I could come was the white-guy-air-guitar-move where it looks like you are going to do the splits, but your back leg is still bent behind you. I was frustrated. Even David Lee Roth could do the splits better than I could.
Life moved on and I abandoned my quest to do the splits.
I was in a strip club one evening and this incredibly flexible girl took the stage. (Talon, you know who you are) She did things with her legs that most women, not to mention their husbands, only dream of. I caught up with her after her set and commented on her flexibility. She confided that when she started dancing she couldn't even touch her toes. I was inspired. I could already touch my toes! I had a leg up, so to speak. My quest to do the splits resumed.
I worked on my flexibility and stretched nearly every day. Within a few months I was incredibly close to doing the splits. Almost all the way down, I was just a couple inches from the floor. Granted, I had to ease myself carefully into that position. It was nothing like the fluid grace with which the Solid Gold Dancers slid to the floor. However, I was getting close.
And then, one night, it happened! The combination of a bit too much Scotch, stripper shoes, a very slippery floor and my sophomoric need to show off my near-splits talent led me to actually doing the full splits! And none of this "easing down into it" crap. Nope, just Bam! down to the floor. It was so satisfying, and exhilarating.
A few months later, after my hamstring healed, I decided that doing the splits was overrated and I didn't feel the need to do them again.
In my quest to get back in shape after my son was born, I realized that I had lost quite a bit of my flexibility. It didn't take long for me to once again start dreaming of doing the splits. Plus, my husband thought it would be kind of cool if I could get my ankles behind my head. So, I started working on my flexibility once again.
This time I have a lot more knowledge of anatomy and physiology, so I am better prepared to do things the right way. I have a plan. The secret to doing the splits is increasing the flexibility in your hip flexors and hamstrings. You also want to make sure you don't have any tightness in your quads or your glutes. I have a few basic stretches that I am doing every day. Each stretch is held for 30 seconds. Be sure not to force anything, and don't bounce. Just hold the stretch and breathe. The most obvious stretches are simple hamstrings stretches (touching your toes is an example) and hip flexor stretches(deep lunges are an example of this) but there are other stretches as well.
There are tons of sites out there giving you advice on how to do the splits. Just Google "how to do the splits" and you'll see what I mean. Some are very simple, others are really in depth. If you want simple, I recommend this site.
If you are looking for something a bit more in depth I recommend this site. This one is close to the protocol I am using. YouTube is also a good source of tutorials on how to do the splits.
Already I am noticing a lot more flexibility, and as a nice bonus I have eliminated a lot of pain in my knee and lower back. I can't quite do the splits yet, but I will post a follow up when I can. And then, Marilyn McCoo, here I come!