Open Splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often. It does require a considerable amount of flexibility, and Matt lays out the perfect flexibility formula in order to safely execute the posture. What it does is offer much more than the result: It takes you on a path toward greater balance in your body, more specifically in the hips. The adductor muscles don’t often get as much of the limelight as some of the other muscles of the hips (e.g., glutes), so Open Splits (Samakonasana) is an opportunity to create more muscle integrity in the adductors, tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscles, hip flexors, and inner hamstrings.
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What is muscle integrity? It’s essentially the health of a muscle or muscle group. This can still be vague—what is a healthy muscle? Part of having healthy muscle tissue means that you have the ability to control the contraction of a particular muscle or the amount of contraction and relaxation within a group of muscles, at any length. This is important in Open Splits, because even though your legs are out wide, you should have the ability to contract back inwards. One of the most important things to do to maintain safe execution is to never go to your full end range. Staying at approximately 70% of your range will help minimize the chance of injury.
WATCH THE VIDEO: OPEN SPLITS: FLEXIBILITY FORMULA
MORE THAN MUSCLE ACTIVATION
There are specific articulations in your body that are key components of the flexibility formula for Open Splits. These articulations will help you achieve the desired activation of muscle tissue and joint placement. For example, the anterior tilt of the pelvis assists in the activation of the TFL (an internal rotator). Once you bring your awareness to this sensation, you can layer on the additional and contrasting action of spiraling the thigh bones outwards in order to ignite the outer hips (abductors) as well.
The most important thing is to always take it step by step. Let’s examine from the beginning each action that Matt breaks down in the video.
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FOLLOW THIS FLEXIBILITY FORMULA
There are a number of actions and co-activations that need to happen in order to maintain safety and build upon muscle integrity in Open Splits. As mentioned before, once you get into a straddle position, it’s important to remain mindful and stay away from going to your complete end range. You should recognize a subtle sensation of stretch in the inner thighs and hamstrings. Staying within this range and then isometrically activating your adductors, hamstrings, and TFL is the formula to follow. The stars of the show, however, are patience and restraint. Staying behind your end range and having the patience to allow your muscles to adapt and continue to grow into new flexibility will promote increased healthy muscle tissue.
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