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How to Stretch Your Hamstrings to Be Able to Do Splits

author image Ollie Odebunmi
Ollie Odebunmi's involvement in fitness as a trainer and gym owner dates back to 1983. He published his first book on teenage fitness in December 2012. Odebunmi is a black belt in taekwondo and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Kingston University in the United Kingdom.
How to Stretch Your Hamstrings to Be Able to Do Splits
Hamstring stretches will help you perform splits. Photo Credit: Kane Skennar/DigitalVision/Getty Images

There are two types of splits, namely the front split and the side splint. In the front split, one leg is stretched in front of you and the other, behind you. In the side split, both legs are stretched out to your sides. Both types require a substantial degree of flexibility in the lower back, hips, inner thighs and hamstrings. A variety of static and dynamic stretches can help prepare your hamstrings for the rigors of performing splits.

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Step 1

Warm up before you start your hamstring stretching exercises. This improves blood flow to the muscles and hamstrings and makes them more pliant. Cycle for five to 10 minutes on a stationary bike, run on the spot or jump rope. A warm up will also reduce your risk of injury as you do your stretches.

Step 2

Do some dynamic stretches. Hold on to a parallel bar or chair with your left hand to maintain your balance. Keeping a straight leg, swing your right leg back and forward 10 to 15 times. Increase the arc of the forward swing after your 15th repetition. Try to get your thigh as close as possible to your chest. Do 15 reps. Switch position and repeat the movement with your left leg. Ensure that you keep your leg straight to maximize the hamstring stretch.

Step 3

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep both legs straight and bend forward. Grasp your ankles, try to touch your chest to your thighs and pull your head between your legs. Hold the stretch for a slow count of 10. Straighten up and repeat the stretch three to five times.

Step 4

Stand with your feet two to three shoulder-widths apart. Keep both legs straight. Lean to your left, bend forward from the hips, grasp your left ankle and try to touch your chest to your thigh. Swing to your right and perform the same stretch. Swing to your mid-line and place both palms on the floor. Hold each stretch for a slow count of 10.

Step 5

Sit on an exercise mat with both legs stretched in front of you. Spread your legs out wide as far as you can. Lean to your left, reach forward, grasp your ankle, and try to touch your head to your knee or your chest to your thigh. Swing to your right and repeat the stretch. Swing to your mid-line, bend forward from your hips without rounding your back and reach forward with both hands. Try to touch your chest to the floor. Hold each stretch for a slow count of 10.

Step 6

Lie on your back on the floor. Have a yoga strap, towel or jump rope beside you. Lift your right foot off the floor and bend your knee. Loop your strap, towel or jump rope around the bottom of your foot and hold an end with each hand. Straighten your leg to a 90 degree angle. Inch your hands up the strap until the strap is taut. Slowly pull on the ends of the strap and pull your right leg toward your head. Stop before the point of pain in your hamstring. Hold the stretch for up to one minute. Repeat on the other side.

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