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Why Stretch?

First class



Neck stretches

Back Stretches

Wrist Stretches

Prop Stretches

Side Stretches

Shoulder Stretches

Iliotibial Stretches

Balance Exercises

Standing Balance Exercises

Lotus Exercises

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Center Split

Watch this first!

Standing Leg Stretches (Preparation for Splits)
Please Note: You may have noticed that these stretches were presented on the Stretches page. They are repeated here since this stretch is the proper preparation for your body prior to attempting the splits.

Stand with the feet double shoulder width wide, with the feet parallel to each other. Bend forward from the hips, keep the legs straight, and let your body hang. Let your head and neck relax. This will stretch your back and hamstring muscles. Alternatively, you can place your hands on the ground: this puts less weight and strain on your legs and back. Important: Keep your knees straight, and your hips level.

Grab both ankles, and gently pull yourself down. Keep your knees straight, and your back as straight as you can. Relax your neck muscles, do not try to keep your head up.

Now, reach over and hold your left ankle, as shown in the picture on the left. Be careful not to elevate your hip. Keep your knees straight, and your feet parallel. Make sure to keep the hips level. Hold the position, and feel the stretch in your leg and back. At first you may feel the stretch in your leg, and as it loosens up, you may feel the stretch in your back. Then, as the back loosens, you will feel your leg again in a new way. You are stretching deeper and deeper into your leg muscles. Release slowly, and move over and hold onto your right ankle. Repeat the stretch for the right side.

After stretching both hamstring muscles with the above stretches, place both hands on the floor in front of you. Important: Keep the legs straight, and the toes pulled back towards you. Slowly release the tension in your groin muscles and let your legs slide out to the sides. Push from the heels. Keep the front of the feet in contact with the floor. Note that the body weight is held up by the arms. You can release more weight into your legs as your are able to. DO NOT hold your breath. Go slow. It is easy to tear a muscle or tendon in this position. Get out of the position slowly if you feel a tear, pain or discomfort that does not feel like stretching.

After holding the above position for a few moments (ultimately, minutes) walk your feet together into the squat position, pictured below, to let the legs recover.

After letting the legs recover, you can straighten the legs, place your hands on the ground, and walk them into the splits again. You will find that if you alternate splits with squats, you will be able to get lower and lower into the stretch.

WARNING: Do not roll back onto the heels, as in the pictures below. The picture on the left shows the wrong position from the front, the picture on the right shows the wrong position from above. The incorrect position places undue strain on the ligaments of the knees, and you can damage them permanently by stretching this way. Keep the feet on the ground as in the pictures above. Also, the groin muscles are not stretched very much in the position below. The stretch occurs more in the hamstrings. There may be the appearance that one is lower in the split, but it is not really the case. Also, notice that the hips and shoulders are uneven in the picture on the right, a common mistake that is hard to see by yourself. Ask a friend or family member to observe you from above and behind to correct this mistake.

This picture shows the hips too far forward in the splits, ahead of the heels. This also gives the appearance of being lower in the split, but that is not the case.

This is the correct position, with the hips centered over the heels, and the hips even with each other:

Keep allowing the legs to extend to your sides, with the feet pulled back and the legs straight. When your groin touches the floor, you can come onto the elbows as in the picture below. Relax your gluteal muscles (buttocks). You may have to keep a little tension in the legs to keep the knees straight.

If you are comfortable in the above position, you can rest your body on the floor as demonstrated below. In this picture, the groin, inner legs, and chest are all touching the floor, and attention is placed on relaxing all the tension out of the body. This is a very advanced stretch, and takes time to perfect.

Below is a picture of the author demonstrating a double jump front kick. The ability to do this karate technique is made possible by the split stretch (and lots of practice).


It is possible to injure onself in any physical activity. Consult your physician if in doubt about your physical condition before embarking on a stretching program. The author of accepts no liability for any injuries sustained while practicing any of the stretches described within.



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