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How to get your splits at home

Tips from a trained rhythmic gymnast
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FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY
FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

Are you bored in the house, and in the house bored? Well, TikTok’s got you covered on all things entertainment. The popular app has been trending over lockdown with amusing content and random challenges to keep you busy.

It has been a recent trend among TikTok users to try and get your splits from home. Maddi Koch (@MaddiKoch) started the trend when she said, “Hi, I’m bored, so today I’m going to teach you how to do the splits.” That video went viral with four simple stretches promising to get your splits “in like, two days.” 

Luckily for you readers, I’ve incorporated those four stretches with some more in-depth tips for flexibility that I’ve developed over the years as a trained rhythmic gymnast. When it comes to stretching, there are three main types: static, dynamic, and ballistic. Static-active stretching works by eliminating force. Active stretches not only stretch the muscles and tissues, but also prepare the muscles for the action by activating and warming them up. Holding stretching positions is the best way to get your splits. 

Let’s break it down — without actually breaking anything — into the four basic stretches. Materials you’ll need are a mat or soft surface and some floor space. You can also use a block, but that is optional.

The pigeon pose

Begin in a downward dog — hips in the air and hands and feet on the ground — and extend one leg out and then connect knee to wrist while the other leg lays back straight with the knee pointing down to the ground. You can take this stretch further by looking up on the inhale, elongating the neck and slightly arching the back. 

Exhale, then go down on your forearms and rest your forehead on the mat or block for added support. Sink deeper into the pose with each breath. This pose helps to stretch out the groin, outer hips, and hip flexors while alleviating back pain. 

The lunge

This is a classic exercise, where one leg is positioned forward with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle and the foot flat on the ground while the other leg is positioned behind. This resistance exercise is popular for its ability to strengthen your back, hips, and legs while improving all around mobility and stability. For this stretching lunge, extend one leg out in front. Bend that leg and push your hips forward, making sure that your heel stays directly under your knee at a 90 degree angle. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. 

The hamstring stretch 

The hamstring stretch is the most important one to Koch — and for good reason — because it can increase flexibility and improve range of motion in the hip flexors. Both of these benefits will help get you your splits and perform daily tasks with ease.

From the lunge position you were just in — because I assume, you’re attempting this as you are reading — straighten your front leg, lean back, and try to put your nose to your knee. Flex the foot that’s in front and pull it back for an added stretch benefit, or as Koch likes to say, “That like, really fucks you up.”

The lunge with forearms on the ground

This fourth and final stretch is just like the lunge from your knees, except this time, you place your forearms on the ground. 

Repeat all four mentioned stretches with the other leg. After this, you can slide down into the splits. If you can’t go all the way down at first, that’s okay; just stretch every day. As a distraction to take your mind off the discomfort, some people enjoy simply stretching while watching TV or maybe watching more TikTok videos.

Just as a reminder, everybody’s body is different, so do what works for you and never take it too far to the point of pain. It might take a while, so just stretch mindfully every day and your flexibility will improve.