Open Splits

Open Splits

Follow This Flexibility Formula

SAMAKONASANA

OPEN SPLITS

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 (i.e. glutes), so open splits (Samakonasana) is an opportunity to create more muscle integrity in the adductors, tensor fascia latae (TFL), hip flexors, and inner hamstrings).

 

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MUSCLE INTEGRITY

What is muscle integrity? It’s essentially the health of a muscle(s).  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 and/or amount of contraction and relaxation within a particular muscle and/or 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 full end range.  Staying at approximately 70% of your range will help to 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 in achieving the desired activation of muscle tissue and joint placement. For example, the anterior tilt of the pelvis assists in activation of the TFL (an internal rotator).  Once you bring your awareness to this sensation, you can then 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 each action Matt breaks down in the video from the beginning.

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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 be mindful to 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 being conservative.  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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OPEN SPLITS EXECUTION

In the execution of open splits, remember to layer each action

  1.  Dorsiflex your toes and point both knees and toes to the sky
  2. Send inner groins down to the ground
  3. Micro bend your knees (to alleviate pressure here) and press your heels down into the earth (this will light up the hamstrings)
  4. Push outward now while pushing toes out and pressing legs apart, so pelvis goes more into anterior tilt (legs stay as they are)
  5. Once you feel the stretch adductor muscles, start to press heels down and micro tucking tailbone (more posterior tilt of the pelvis), or suction thigh bones into hip sockets, so TFL starts to ignite and pull feet towards each other (it is more about stability here, rather then straining) 

Playing with different articulations are helpful in deciphering what areas continue to require attention (what feels tight and/or what feels hypermobile). For example, if you want to continue bowing forward, you may return back to pressing legs apart and groins back or hips more forward.  This will offer a deeper stretch in your adductors.  Going back and forth between push and pull actions help to increase hip mobility.

Matt’s current Hip Mobility immersion offers a deep dive into the breakdown of specific asana related to increased flexibility, strength, and mobility of the hips, but more importantly, it puts hip health at center stage.  Direct your experience and elevate your practice by registering today.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings

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Open Splits Follow This Flexibility FormulaSAMAKONASANAOPEN SPLITS 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...

read more

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