How do you demonstrate the benefits of stretching? For many, seeing is believing. I decided to put WeStretch to the test with learning the splits in a 30-day challenge!
The challenge was simple. All I had to do was 10 minutes of stretching a day, focusing on one of the WeStretch split options.
That was it.
No yoga blocks or fancy equipment. Just thirty days of using WeStretch to start increasing my flexibility.
(As a side note, you find these routines under ‘Activity’ customizations, under any of the dance options. You have the option to focus on the right or left splits, both of them together, or on your middle splits.)
Beginning the 30-day split challenge.
I thoroughly enjoyed the act of working on my splits for thirty days. The simplicity of ten minutes a day was an obtainable goal, and it soon became a part of my daily routine. Most days, I ended up stretching longer than ten minutes, but any extra time was spent on keeping the rest of my body limber and not on my splits.
This was an adventure in seeing what exactly I was capable of. When I started, I knew I could already touch my toes, meaning I was somewhat flexible to begin with. On the other hand, my splits were laughably high off the ground and painful. Trying to hold them long enough to be able to take a picture was near torture.
Yet, as time went on, they became easier. Three days in, I had already felt like I might not need to complete the full thirty days, simply because of how much better I felt in such a short amount of time. I would look forward to the 30-sec stretches and the tingling muscles.
Halfway through my 30-day challenge.
At the fifteen-day mark, I felt like I was going deeper into the splits than I was. However, I noticed that I was sitting up straighter than before, my knuckles weren’t bearing all the brunt of my weight, my legs were mostly straight, and that daily sitting was easier.
Though the results may not have been as drastic as I hoped, but good things take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Olympic athlete didn’t get the gold medal after one good workout, and the Apple company wasn’t a household name overnight. Regardless of how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to get my full splits in a day- not safely, at least.
The finish line.
I kept trucking along until I hit day 30 of my splits challenge. It was the little wins that kept me going, like the time that I was briefly able to lift my hands off the ground or when I felt my entire leg press against the floor when I was trying out my right front splits. It felt wonderful to extend my legs out with a deep stretch.
Completing my thirty-day challenge, I was incredibly proud. My splits weren’t perfect, but the two former collegiate-level gymnasts in my life agreed that they should be considered a success. It really is all about perspective!
My 30-day splits weren’t perfect- and that’s okay!
One thing that you may notice is that out of all of my splits, the ones with the least amount of improvement were my middles. I was still able to deepen the stretch, but I remained quite high above the ground.
It wasn’t from a lack of trying.
I often focused on doing just the middle split stretching routines. I found out that my right hip flexor is locked and would cause me immense pain when I would try to hold it straight out to the side. Even with that being the case, though, I was still able to increase the range of motion in my hip joints.
If you feel pain, stop immediately.
This is important to bring up for two reasons:
First, if something is hurting, you need to stop. It does your body no good to push through the pain.
(Keep in mind, there is a difference between muscle soreness by being used in a new way and a sharp shooting pain because you are injured. If your leg muscles are stiff from running, that’s a great sign of a good workout! If your knee sends sharp, shooting pains with every step, stop immediately.)
When you push yourself too hard, it increases your chance of injury.
Second, I could feel that I needed a massage and see a physical therapist to help me release these tight muscle groups, but due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, I haven’t been able to see one.
Working through some hip pain relief routines eased the tightness a bit, but this is where I need a little help to get them moving fully.
The benefits of my 30-day split challenge.
You’ve made it this far, and you’re thinking,
‘Wow! Great job, but I can’t see why I need to improve my splits. I am not a high-level athlete. My hips do not hurt. There’s really no reason for me to do this.’
Fair points. What I want you to know, though, is that my splits have helped with my everyday life. The only exercise I do in my day is whatever I complete with WeStretch and I lead a sedentary lifestyle.
My splits allow me to sit more comfortably since my glutes and leg muscles are looser. Having less strain on these muscles is a relief to me, since I cracked my tailbone three years ago, which still sends ripples of pain through my lower body.
The longer I was in each static stretch, the more focused I became in the moment. I had to learn how to breathe deeply through the tightness, which was exhilarating to feel my muscles release and settle into each pose!
Helpful hints to achieve the splits!
There are a handful of tips and tricks that will improve your experience while learning the splits:
Yoga mats are wonderful for stretching, but not for sliding into the splits.
Stressing about not stretching enough or meeting your goals quickly, will lock your muscles up with tension and set your efforts back.
Focus on taking deep breaths while you stretch- you’ll enjoy your stretching more!
Coming inside to stretch immediately after standing outside at -20°C will not be nearly as effective as stretching after coming out of a warm bath.
Try sitting in a straddle position, facing the wall, to test your middle splits without bearing all of your weight in the stretch.
If you were looking for a sign to be inspired by, let this be it. Making a change does not have to be big or dramatic. Start with something manageable, like 10- 30 minutes of stretching a day.
For me, doing just ten minutes a day was enough, but now that I saw that I was able to finish that, I wanted to keep going. Movement doesn’t need to be complicated and we offer you an easy way to get started. I know you have the potential for greatness- do you know it?
Written by Kayla Willsey
Updated June 29, 2021