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 (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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MUSCLE INTEGRITY

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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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 (to 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 in the adductor muscles, start to press your heels down and micro tuck the tailbone (more posterior tilt of the pelvis), or suction the thigh bones into the hip sockets, so the TFL starts to ignite and pull feet towards each other. It is more about stability here, rather than straining. 

Playing with different articulations is helpful in deciphering what areas continue to require attention (i.e., 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 helps increase hip mobility.

Matt’s current Hip Mobility immersion offers a deep dive into the breakdown of specific asanas related to increased flexibility, strength, and mobility of the hips. 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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