The splits involve extending your legs from your body, forming a 180-degree angle with your torso, and aligning your ankles, knees, and hips. But what muscles does a split use?
The splits stretch hamstrings, inner thighs, and hip flexors. Although it may not be apparent, the slips also engage your lower back and abdominal muscles. They will increase hip mobility and inner thigh flexibility and lower the risk of back pain.
Read on as we explore the benefits of splits and provide some stretches that prepare you for splits. We’ll also introduce some tips to avoid injuries while doing a split.
If you are in a hurry to see the best products to help you practice your splits and stretches, see the products below.
- 1 Muscles Engaged by the Splits 🦵
- 2 How to Prepare for the Splits 🤔
- 3 How to Do the Splits 🧐
- 4 Tips for Doing Splits Safely 🤓
- 5 Bottom Line 🤗
Muscles Engaged by the Splits 🦵
If you do the splits regularly, it helps improve hip mobility and increases your range of motion faster than any other thigh or hip-opening stretch.
It’s also a popular yoga pose as it boosts energy.
The move engages the following muscles:
Your hamstrings help you bend your knees and extend your hips.
When you walk, squat, or tilt your pelvis, your hamstrings are engaged.
Stretching your legs also activates your hamstrings.
Also called the adductors, the inner thigh muscles are attached to your upper leg bone.
They stabilize your hips, knees, and lower back.
The hip flexors are five muscles that allow you to lift or extend your leg from the hips.
Tightness in these muscles affects the lower back and may even cause neck pains.
These muscles need to be flexible and strong for doing the splits.
The glutes are a group of three large muscles opposite your hip flexors. They let you extend your legs behind you.
They support your weight and let you propel yourself forward when walking or running.
As you have to extend one leg backward during the splits, the move activates your glutes to a large degree.
See more in Should You Stretch Before a Glute Workout?
These muscles are attached to your spine and let you pick up things and stand up.
Activating and strengthening these muscles leads to a more balanced posture created by stronger hips.
Since this pose is different from the normal sitting position, it activates muscles in the pelvic floor by shifting body weight onto this area.
If you can do the splits, you already have high levels of flexibility in your lower body.
How to Prepare for the Splits 🤔
The split is an exercise that requires significant skill and effort.
Below are some of the best workouts that work these muscles and help you prep for the splits.
Note that depending on your fitness level, you may need to practice for a few weeks or months before you can do the splits without hurting yourself.
Standing Forward Pose
Begin with standing with your feet together, bring your hands to your hips, and hinge toward your legs.
Keep the spine extended as you move and place your fingertips on the floor in front of you or next to your feet.
Reach the crown of your head toward the floor and draw your shoulders firmly onto the back.
Keep the stretch for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
Active Spiderman Stretch
Start with the push-up position. Bring your right knee to your right elbow.
Keep the other leg straight, drop your hips down and bring your knee next to the floor.
Stay there for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Switch legs and do 10 to 15 reps.
Side Reclined Hand to Big Toe Pose
Lie on the ground with your legs straight, bring your right leg forward, place a yoga strap or a band around your right foot, and hold it with both hands.
Extend your leg upward so that your leg makes a 90-degree angle with the lying leg.
Pull the strap with your hands and feel the stretch in your quad, hamstring, and hips.
Now slowly lower your leg to the side, hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, and release. Repeat the movement with the left leg.
Here are our top three recommended yoga straps if you do not have a yoga strap.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel and bring one knee to the front.
Keep your back straight, hinge forward, and put your hands on the ground at your sides.
Hold on for a few seconds, and then come back up. Now, go for the opposite leg.
Check out this video to see how to perform the movement:
Kneeling Adductor Stretch
Kneel and extend one leg to the side.
Keep your back straight, hinge forward, and put your hands on the ground.
Hold for a few seconds and then come up. Then go for the opposite leg.
Here’s how to do it:
Happy Baby Pose
Besides giving you a good stretch, this relatively easy movement relieves your anxiety.
It also stretches your hamstrings and opens your inner thighs.
Lie back on your mat. Bend your knees 90 degrees and slowly bring your legs up toward your chest.
Make sure your head stays flat on the mat.
Bring your legs higher such that the soles of your feet face the ceiling. Then reach for your feet and move your knees toward your armpits.
Push your tailbone down, hold the stretch for a few seconds, and breathe deeply before releasing.
You can also rock from side to side, but be gentle.
Here are our top three recommended yoga mats if you don’t own one already.
Start with lying on the ground with your knees bent.
Place your right knee on the left thigh and grab your left thigh with both hands.
Now pull up your thigh to feel the stretch. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, then switch sides.
Repeat the movement 5 to 10 times for each side.
Half Pigeon Pose
Put your palms down on a mat and straighten your legs behind you. Then lift your hips toward the ceiling.
Lift one leg off the ground and bring your knee to the front. Then, rotate your shin so that it’s parallel with your mat.
Slowly lower your right buttock towards the ground and press into the hand palms to straighten and lengthen your spine.
Hold there for 15 seconds, then switch your legs.
Bent Leg Lunge
To make the bent leg lunge, go into a regular lunge position with your back leg extended.
Next, bend the knee of your extended leg and try to grab the ankle or foot of your leg with the opposite hand.
To increase the intensity, you can bend your other elbow. Alternatively, you can give your torso a twist to open your entire front body.
How to Do the Splits 🧐
Two common types of splits are front splits and side splits.
Here are the steps to do the front splits and side splits.
Watch this video to avoid common mistakes:
For beginners, foam yoga blocks are better than wooden alternatives as they’re softer.
Gaiam Essentials Yoga Block, available on Amazon, can be a great option.
Side splits or middle splits require flexibility from the inner thighs and hip flexors.
Tips for Doing Splits Safely 🤓
Since splits need flexibility and mobility in your lower body, they can worsen your pain.
During the splits, keep your spine neutral and core muscles tight.
It helps stabilize your upper body and reduce the risk of injury in your lower back.
If you’re a runner, you may need to completely stay away from this pose or avoid it right after the run.
Both of these activities strain leg muscles, and you may end up overstretching them.
If you feel you’re not ready to go deep, you should go as far as your flexibility allows you to.
You could also use a yoga block or cushion to raise the ground level and help you perform the moves more easily.
Bottom Line 🤗
What muscles does a split use? The splits stretch and lengthen your hips, thighs, and groin muscles.
Doing the splits requires flexibility in leg muscles, making it a challenging exercise.
However, if you’re patient and do the above stretches regularly, you can make the full move.
These stretches prepare you for doing a split and increase your ROM and flexibility in lower body muscles.
Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API