The Thirty Day Splits Challege- And How I Nailed It!
One of the biggest things we think about here at WeStretch is how to get people consistently moving. It’s all fine and dandy knowing you should stretch, but it’s meaningless if you don’t actually do it. How do you motivate people? How do you let them know that it will be too easy to begin with, but it will progress so that they will be challenged physically in the future?
With phone games, you assume the first couple of rounds will be ridiculously easy and you continue through them until you reach the levels that are more of your skill level. So why is it that when someone tries a quick stretching routine, they see how easy it is and deem it unworthy of a solid effort?
I realized that in clearly demonstrating results, people would see past the beginning routines to the possibilities. But how to do it? I was already at twenty-eight consecutive days, but as good as I was feeling, I had no visible way to show the impact. So, after a bit of thinking, I realized that if I challenged myself to be able to do the splits, it would be a solid and measurable way of seeing how WeStretch works. I set the parameters to be pretty simple- just ten minutes a day for thirty days. It didn’t matter what side I worked on, just that I was consistently doing one of the split-specific routines.
(As a side note, you find these in the ‘Activity’ customization screen, under any of the dance options. You have the option to focus on just the right or left splits, both of them together, or on your middle splits.)
Let me start off by saying, I thoroughly enjoyed the act of working on my splits for thirty days. The simplicity of ten minutes a day was an easy enough goal, and it became a part of my daily routine. Most days, I ended up stretching longer than ten minutes, but the 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 off, I knew I could already touch my toes, meaning I was somewhat flexible to begin with, but 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 time. I began to look forward to the longer-held stretches and the tingling muscles afterwards.
At the fifteen-day mark, I wanted to take photos of the halfway progression. While I was feeling like I was going deeper into the splits than I was, I noticed that I was sitting up straighter than before, my knuckles weren’t bearing all the brunt of my weight, and that daily sitting was easier. Though the results may not have been as drastic as I hoped, I had to remember that 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.
The Finish Line
I kept trucking along until I hit day thirty. 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 splits. Taking the final photos, I was so proud of myself. My splits weren’t perfect, but the two former collegiate-level gymnasts in my life agreed that they should be considered a success. (Here’s to hoping I inspired them to regain the flexibility they had twenty years ago! ;P). It really is all about perspective!
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 them a bit, but I remained quite high above the ground. It wasn’t from lack of trying- I often focused on doing just the middle split stretching routines. I found out that my right hip is decently locked and would cause me immense pain when I would try to hold it straight out to the side.
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 pain. (Keep in mind, there is a difference between muscle soreness from being used in a new way and a sharp shooting pain because you are injured. If your leg muscles are stiff from running, great! If your knee sends sharp, shooting pains with every step, stop immediately.) Second, I could feel that I needed a massage therapist to help me release those tight muscles, but due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, I haven’t been able to see one. Working through some hip injury stretching routines have eased the tightness a bit, but this is where I need a little help to get them moving fully. I am looking forward to seeing how they can be improved once I can get these muscles worked on!
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 don’t 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 most exercise I do in my day is whatever I complete with WeStretch and I spend most of my day sitting. 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 occasionally sends ripples of pain through my lower body. Bending over to pick something off the floor is easy. The longer I held the stretch, the more focused I became in the moment. I had to learn how to breathe through the tightness, which was fun, since I could always feel my muscles release and settle with my breath!
To be fair, all the above can be true of any good stretching routine. Working on the splits just has the added bonus of being fun to show off! :P
Doing this challenge, I learned a lot of new tips and tricks that really helped me improve. There were the obvious things like if your pants can’t stretch, then you won’t stretch enough or that results won’t happen overnight, no matter how much you really want them to, but there were so also many more subtle things. For example, yoga mats are great for stretching, but not for sliding into the splits. If you stress about not stretching enough or meeting your goals quickly, your muscles lock up from the tension and set your efforts back. 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. Even ten minutes of stretching is enough to boost your mood and inspire your productivity!
All of this boils down to consistent stretching is powerful. If you were looking for a sign to be inspired by, let this be it. Change doesn’t have to be huge. Start by something manageable. 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?