Splits, splits, splits! Focus on your back leg if you want to improve your splits.
A great way to ensure that you don’t over-stretch your hamstrings, a super common injury for aerialists and over-eager stretchers, is to take them out of the equation.
1. All you have to do is place blocks under your front knee. You want the blocks to lift the knee enough that your front hamstring does not feel much stretch. Keep the inner thigh in the front leg pushing in (i.e., adducting) even if you’re slightly turned out.
2. Shift your focus to the back leg. Use your hand to guide the thigh into internal rotation (knee down) as you push the back hip forward and down.
3. To ensure that you’re not leaning forward onto your front thigh, draw your belly button back into your spine and draw your ribs down. You’re trying to take some of the arch out of your low back without tucking the pelvis.
4. Challenge your quad (rectus femoris) flexibility by trying to keep all of those engagements and bend your knee (heel to butt) without lifting your hips. This is really hard for me! You’ll know you’ve maintained your internal rotation if the toe points straight up to the ceiling. If it goes all CRAZY out to the side, your TFL is probably tight.
5. If everything looks a-ok, you can strap your back foot, and begin lifting the bottom of the ribs forward and then up to the ceiling. Push down through your front, leveraging your upper body backwards to increase your hip extension. To avoid dumping into your low back, keep a deep abdominal connection between your public space and sternum by thinking of your public bone drawing slightly up to the ceiling without changing the position of your pelvis.
Let me know how it goes!