Split like a bananna.

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Kframe, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    Hey. I didnt want to invade Chadderz thread so im making my own.

    I want to do the splits. For being 320lbs im surprisingly flexible. With side splits im about 8" inches from the floor. Now the real shocker is with front splits.

    I was stretching at home with my 6 year old. She does gymnastics and is watching the instructor give her and others correction...(you can see were this is going...) So she was doing her front split and wanted me to do mine.
    I told her i would try but i would not likely get past a awkward lunge. So i maneuvered into front split position and started going down..

    I managed to get way lower then i thought i would be able to. My daughter said my legs were wrong. So she grabs my right leg(twords the rear) and straightens it out.(it was bent at a angle) In that act of straightening she somehow pulled me more inches down. In fact i was closer to a full front split then she is. maybe 3-4 inches if that,(she indicated my depth with 2 fingers spread apart, saying i was this far. which was like 3 inches or so).

    Now my question is, what should i be feeling for with regards to the safety of my muscles. I could feel the muscle stretching and it felt like i had a large rubber band and was pulling both ends hard. It was kinda scary as it wasnt entirely painfull but the stretching effect i felt in my muscles scared the heck out of me.

    So the question is, how do i know when to stop? What feeling should i be looking for that says your muscle is at its limit? I am certain i could have gone lower, but my fear kicked into near panic as the stretching effect i was feeling kept increasing. Im not describing it, that feeling of pulling a handful of rubber bands apart.

    Now i have no pain today and no ill effects so im sure i could have gone lower but i need to know what to feel for how to tell when to stop. Its this not knowing thats stoping me from going lower on the side splits. Im sure i could go lower but the stretching/pulling effect frightens me.
  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I would define that as "quite close." You're a few months away at most (with consistent training of course).

    Use a tape measure to get an accurate measurement.

    Everybody feels stretches differently so it's difficult to say with any certainty how close to straining your muscles you were.

    Generally, however, "hard pulling" is an indicator of being near the point of muscle strain - the point when it goes "rip".

    The sudden increase in depth could be down to your change in position creating better leverage. But it could also be the golgi tendon organ signalling to your muscles that you went too far, thereby forcing them to relax to prevent said ripping.

    Flexibility training is normally safe, but it's also the act of walking a fine line between making gains and putting yourself out of action for a long time. You would be wise to approach it with a strong sense of caution (or self-preservation, whichever).

    My experience tells me you should stop before the point you experienced. You will experience some pulling, but it should occur in the "belly" of the muscle rather than at the ends like you described (if I'm interpreting your post right). It certainly shouldn't feel "super tight" and definitely not painful (a bit of discomfort is fine). I always tell people, "Go to the point where you first feel tension, then go a little bit further." If you want to be super conservative, don't go past that point.

    That's the point. :)
  3. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    Thanks VZ. The stretching effect i was feeling was in all points of the muscle, especially in the middle.

    Part of the problem, being a big guy i have to support my weight on my arms. As i approach my limit, i have to hold my self up on my arms, if not ill drop my weight into the stretch and that would end badly. Im sure when i get a full split ill be able to sit up and not brace against the ground but till then..

    So the gist of it is take it slowly and dont rush and trust my instincts to stop if i feel it is to much.

    VZ i have been reading your guide but i dont really have alot of times in my day for 2 sets of dynamic stretches. Can you recommend a stretching guide/routine i can do once a day? If not thats ok, ill just continue my once a day yoga.

    I appreciate your help and advice.
  4. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Did you feel it in the back of your knee, too?

    Supporting your weight with your hands is highly recommended.

    Place chairs around you to act as spotters.

    Pretty much.

    Although, I prefer the word "cautiously" to "slowly" -- you have to push your limits without breaking them.

    While dynamic stretches still hold lots of value (and the advice in my earlier threads still works), these days I tell people it's better to get your splits down before working on dynamic flexibility.

    As for a quick, once-a-day routine, click here.
  5. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    Did i feel it in the back of my knee? No. No knee discomfort at all. Now i did feel it in the inner thigh area and on my calf muscle. Not sure inner thigh is the correct term but thats were i feel it.

    I avoid any stretches that cause knee pain. Those that have me bending one knee behind me and such. Those hurt my knee(tendons on the side) so i dont do them at all..

    Oh and my calf is really tight. I have my daughter helping me to stretch them. I lay on the couch on my back. Lift my leg up to my chest as high as i can. She grabs my ankle and pulls my leg till im at my limit and holds it. Seems to be helping. I have a lot of tightness their...

    Thank you for the guide. My reason for wanting more flexability is to improve my kicking. I have to lean back a ways just to get round kicks and side kicks up to upper chest level on someone my height. (solar plexus) Not to mention head kicks require way to much leaning to be practical.
  6. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    That's good.

    Pulling on any part of the knee is a sign that your connective tissues are being stretched, rather than muscle fibres.

    If your toes aren't pointing straight up to the ceiling (i.e. your foot is turned out or in, even by just a few degrees) you will change the focus of the stretch.


    One of my rules of thumb is: you feel tightness first in the areas that need the most work.

    You can do several things to increase your front split gains, namely: invest in a foam roller and spend at least 2 minutes smashing your problem areas (or longer, if they're really bad); and do relaxed/static stretches for your calves (3 x 30 seconds on each leg will do) before your isometric/PNF stretches. I generally tell people to avoid doing relaxed/static stretches before isometric/PNF stretches, but that's when I'm mostly talking about the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles. It's perfectly fine to stretch your synergists (surrounding muscles) if they're tightening up during your splits.

    If you need more information on how to use a foam roller, there are lots of good tutorials on YouTube. Useful search terms include "How to use a foam roller" and "self-myofascial release tutorial."

    A word of warning - foam rolling is damn painful if you're tight. And the tighter you are, the more it's going to hurt. But it's a "good" pain and it will subside... eventually.

    Feel free to post any questions here that pop into your head when reading or using the guide.

    My advice to most kickers - especially those well into adulthood - is to forget kicking until you can do the splits (or at least get close to them).

    Lack of flexibility is just going to reinforce poor technique, which you're then going to have to un-do when you finally can do the splits. There's also the issue of injury potential due to lack of sufficient ROM.

    But most people don't like to hear that, because it means they have to give up an activity they enjoy (albeit temporarily) to work hard at something that causes a significant amount of discomfort, usually with slow progress.

    How you choose to approach your flexibility and kicking training is entirely up to you, but keep in mind that if you choose to continue kicking, you risk slowling down your rate of progress (for doing the splits) and elevate your risk of injury.
  7. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    Well i was considering and planning on joining a tkd dojang but if its only going to screw up my progress then ill hold off.

    How does a foam roller help with tight muscles? Ill gladly try anything.

    Quick question, you mention doing PNF first. The guide you linked said that now your recommending static stretches first for full splits. Did i misread it?
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Basically, foam rolling relaxes tight muscles.

    Think of it as giving yourself a deep tissue massage.

    In the guide I linked to (called the Chadderz Program from here on out, after the famous Scotsman I wrote it for :p ), I said isometric/PNF stretches are more effective when followed by relaxed/static stretches, i.e. when you do relaxed/static stretches after them.

    In this thread, I said you can increase how far you can go in your isometric/PNF front split stretches if you do relaxed/static stretches for really tight surrounding muscles (e.g. calves, glutes etc) first.

    It's possible to increase that amount even further by doing relaxed/static stretches for the main muscles (hamstrings and hip flexors) first too, but that should really only be done under qualified supervision because the injury potential is very high if you do it wrong (and it's very easy to do it wrong). So unless you have a qualified therapist working with you, keep away from doing relaxed/static stretches for the main muscle groups you're going to be working in your isometric/PNF stretches.

    So, to sum this up. The order of your stretching workouts (if you're doing the Chadderz Program, and if you're doing all the exercises) will be:
    1. Foam rolling.
    2. Light relaxed/static stretches for tight supporting muscles.
    3. Isometric/PNF stretches for the main muscles.
    4. Moderate relaxed/static stretches for the main muscles.

    Does that clear it up?

    Some extra points here (more information, yay!).

    Doing all four steps listed above (and only in the order they are listed) will give you the most optimal results. Steps 1, 2 and 4 are entirely optional, so add or remove whichever you prefer depending on how much time and/or energy you've got

    You can still make very satisfactory gains by just doing step 3.
  9. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    That helps alot thank you.

    You mention getting supervision for doing static stretchs on main muscle groups. So i should look into hiring a therapist? Or are you saying leave the main muscle static stretches for after i get full splits using steps 1-3?

    Just trying to make sure i have all points correct in my head.

    Ill be rereading your guide to make sure i am not missing anything. Ill keep posted on my progress. Thanks again for your help on this.
  10. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    No, I was merely saying that doing relaxed/static stretches for the main muscle groups before isometric/PNF stretches is really only needed in cases of acute muscle tightness (usually following significant trauma like an injury). If you can walk and move with what one would consider "normal" or "average" range of motion, then you don't need a therapist.

    The difference in speed of progress, when you compare doing just isometric/PNF stretches to doing targeted relaxed/static stretches (with a therapist's help) before isometric/PNF stretches, doesn't justify the cost of hiring a therapist in my opinion. Unless you're a millionaire of course.

    I really only mentioned the fact that it's possible to do relaxed/static stretches before isometric/PNF stretches because I said it in past threads, while also saying that, generally, most people should avoid doing them before isometric/PNF stretches because they don't know how to do it safely. I didn't want people to get confused, although reading back through this thread, I don't know if I've achieved that!

    So let me try it another way...

    What order should I do my stretches?

    Isometric/PNF first. Relaxed/static afterwards, but only if you want to. Save dynamic stretches until you can do the splits, although you can do them as part of a warm-up if you insist on continuing to kick before you can do the splits.

    Can I do relaxed/static stretches before isometric/PNF stretches?

    You can do light stretches for surrounding muscles before your isometric/PNF stretches, but you really only need to do that if you have some real problem areas.

    Don't ever do relaxed/static stretches for the main muscle groups (hamstrings and hip flexors in front splits; inner thigh in side splits) before isometric/PNF stretches, unless you have got chronic tightness due to an injury or illness - and that should only be done under the guidance of a qualified therapist.

    Is that better?
  11. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    I think this is a problem that I get quite often. I never get to the point of feeling the slightest stretch in my hamstrings because I feel it in the back of my knees way before I get any sense of tension in my hamstrings.

    Any advice on how to work on this problem?
  12. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Which position(s) does this usually affect you in?
  13. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    Anything involving touching the toes, whether seated with legs in front or standing and bending from the hips.
  14. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Have you tried increasing the bend in your knee(s)?
  15. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    VZ that helped alot mate thanks! Sorry for being so dense, because when i first read it, it came off like dont do static stretches with out a therapist. Im not the brightest so maybe its my fault for not getting it. Edit to add. I know what happened, i missed where you said "first". LOL I totally missed that part.
  16. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    Is there anyway to safely stretch tendons that are getting in the way a good stretch?
  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Don't fret it. Extra clarification certainly doesn't hurt. :)
  18. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Don't stretch tendons.

    They have a completely different make-up to muscles.

    Stay clear of any stretches or stretching programs that aim to lengthen them.
  19. Kframe

    Kframe Valued Member

    I was asking because of the lady who posted with the knee problem. It would be like doing a sun salutation with out being able to lock the knee.
  20. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    You've lost me... lady with knee problem?

    Oh wait.

    Do you mean Moosey?

    Er... that's a boy moose! :D

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