Stretching and the Splits

Is it possible that an old guy like me (32) can learn how to do the side splits? If I stretch once-twice a day, each day trying to spread my legs a little further apart each day, will I one day be able to do the full side splits like Van Damn? Is there a particular stretching program I should undertake?

FTR, I’m not very flexible right now. Way back in the hayday of high school I once was, or perhaps that’s my rose colored memories of HS. But after two days of stretching I’ve noticed an increased range of motion already and I hope that with dedication that range of motion will increase.

I can’t answer your question… I don’t know if you will be able to do the splits eventually…

but I suggest yoga. You can start at any level… and the poses can be modified to suit your progress. It’s safe way to stretch.

builds muscles… and helps balance too!

I am currently partaking in a strength training program and I’m very active. I’ve tried doing web searches, and while I have found plenty of suggested stretches no sites seem to answer my question…

I recently bought Pavel Tsatsouline’s book “Beyond Stretching: Russian Flexibility Breakthroughs.” An interesting claim he makes is that he can teach anybody, regardless of age or flexibility levels (unless they have an injury preventing them) how to do a full side split.

As a note, Pavel is known to be one of the leading experts in strength and flexibility training in Russia and trained the Russian Spetsnaz, and continues to train S.W.A.T, SAMBO and many other groups around the world as well as lecture. He holds the equivilant of a Masters degree in Sports science.

The russians he trains have full flexibility cold. They can wake up first thing in the morning and automatically do the splits if need be. (Russian strength athletes lift max weights cold injury free as well)

I read Jackie Chan’s autobiography and they school he went to as a young child taught him the splits…on the first day. Basically they put him into position and stacked up on his shoulders until his crotch touched the floor. I don’t think he recommends this method.

Other than that I think it’s very possible with time.

Wow, I just checked out his books on Amazon, he seems highly recommended though! Have you used his systems before? Did you find that they work? What’s your impression of them?

As a very flexible person (yrs of dance, and most recently martial arts and yoga) I can say unequivocably that STRETCHING WORKS…what you say above, SwCh, supports that view.

What I mean is:

If you STRETCH, you will gain flexibility.

The question then becomes doing it regularly AND doing it in such a way that you do not injure or tear anything.

I think that yoga is an excellent idea for you. You will reap many rewards, including increased flexibility.

There’s the Stretching and Flexibility FAQ (which has been on the net forever) that has a list of stretches that supposedly help you get to the splits…
that might help.

Well, I just recently started incorporating some of his ideas into my workouts and started working on my stretches. It is a very interesting book, full of some pretty technical data and nice pictures of some stretches. He doesn’t outline a routine or anything, but he gives you the different types of stretching, tells you how to break the “stretch reflex.”

Here is an excerpt from the book I took from the first page (ok, second page)

I have heard stories about people falling asleep (not sure how, I sure as hell couldn’t) trying to do the splits leaning against a wall. When they woke up, they were at full splits, no pain, and the best part is, they could do the splits from then on out.

It isn’t about teaching your muscles to stretch, but teaching your nervous system (defense mechanisms agains injury) that it isn’t a dangerous position and keep your muscles from tensing up.

It is a very good book and I would recommend it. I haven’t reached full splits so far, but I have the knowledge and I am getting closer every day. (still about 5-6" away)

In the quote, joins should be joints. I am a terrible transcriber.

Is there really a fierce debate over stretching versus Pavel Tsatsouline’s methods?

Epimetheus, were you very flexible before you started using Pavel’s methods?

After recently seeing some Kung Fu demonstrations on ESPN2 the other day, I was lamenting about how unflexible I am. This thread gives me hope.

No, I was terribly unflexible. When I took martial arts I was one of those guys…

Anyhow, I really started getting more flexible when I started weight lifting. I hadn’t been able to touch my toes since like 7th grade, and now I can put a fist on the ground with my feet together and knees locked. When I started this stretching last week I was closer to 10 inches from the floor. Not bad for a week I suppose. :smiley:

Nice! 10 inches in a week! Are those typical results? I’m going to have to buy this book to see what the hype is about. I’ve never heard of any other way to become flexible other than traditional stretching, but if what you say is true then I should be just fine.

I’ve worked as a fitness professional for years. I decided to make it my goal to be able to do a side split. I started with a “jazz split” and pressed it a little farther every day for a few minutes. I accomplished it in about a month, and so can you. (Once I did it, I stopped, which I regret.)

I wen’t from 10 inches from the floor to around 5-6 inches. Only gained about 4-5 inches. :wink: I don’t know if the results are typical or not. Some may get it faster, some slower.

I would recommend buying the book or seeing if your local library has it. It is worth the read at any rate.

Stretching has never been my strong suit, but I’ve always been pretty athletic. I’ve signed up to the gym and have been going 3 or 4 times a week, so I figure I should learn a good stretching regimen.