A few years back, I was in the best shape of my life. I had a consistent body fat of 6%, I had fantastic cardio, and could do tumbling pass after tumbling pass. I ran four days a week, training with HIIT principles. I was an athlete participating in all-star cheerleading, and had practice four days a week, practices typically lasted three to four hours, and were so difficult that the coaches would open up the bay doors in the back of the gym so we didn’t have to run to the restroom to throw up. I went to the gym five days a week to lift, leaving myself zero rest days. While most of what I was doing was incredibly hard on my body, and ended up making me fracture my spine in two places from over training, one of the few things I got right was that I stretched all the time.

385525_2800584538875_1409098829_n Me as a cheerleader. You can see just how much less muscle I had back then!


While the reason I was stretching was because flexibility is huge in gymnastics and cheerleading (my toe touches needed to be hyper extended!) my extreme stretching ritual of two plus hours a day, every day, kept me from getting injured sooner. When I did cheer, I had all of my splits, and managed to get them in less than three months. I have since lost them, but am working to regain them.

464718_3492590518592_564904979_o Not the best toe touch, but it was consistently above level!

Stretching is important. Everyone knows that, but as athletes and gym goers, most people do not stretch. Stretching is critical to proper body mechanics and health, but we don’t set aside the time to do it. That is, until an injury occurs that’s bad enough that stretching becomes a priority in order to feel better. If you work out hard, either in a sport or at the gym, its not a question of “will you get injured”, its “when, and how badly?” The more stress we put our body under, the more time needs to be devoted towards stretching.


Here is my go to lower body stretching routine, I typically spend 15 minutes doing it, and it hits all the areas that I need to stretch. It is a pretty comprehensive lower body routine if you’re pressed for time. Spend a minimum of 30 seconds in each stretch. Set a timer to keep yourself honest!


1) Kneeling hip-flexor stretch

On one knee and one foot, lean forward while keeping your hips square. That means your crotch should be pointed forwards, not towards the wall. Lean forward and flex the butt cheek on the leg that is back so your hips are pressed further forwards. Do not let your front knee go past your front heel. It helps to have something on each side of you during the stretch so you feel stable, and can focus on increasing your range of motion without fear of falling.

You should feel this right below the front of your hip bone on the leg that is back (your hip flexor), and in your quad on that leg.


2) Kneeling hamstring stretch

Lean back so your butt is behind the knee you are on, straighten out your leg, and hinge forward at the hips. Keep your hips square, the same way you did during the first stretch. Keep your back ramrod straight, as you lean closer to your knee.

You should feel this in a very focused way in your hamstring of the leg that is sticking out straight.


3) Kneeling hamstring stretch with a rounded back

A variation on the second stretch, once you’ve spent thirty seconds with your back perfectly straight, allow your back to round.

Feel how the stretch moves down your leg and spreads out.


4) Hip flexor stretch grabbing foot

Return to the first stretch we did, but this time don’t use anything to hold yourself up. If your left leg is back, put your left hand on the floor. Lean forward and put your left hand on the ground. grab your back foot with your spare hand. Feel the stretch! If you cant do this, you are really tight, and need to do a lot more hip flexor stretching. If this stretch is too difficult, look at stretch number 5.

You should feel this right below the front of your hip bone on the leg that is back, and in your quad on that leg.


5) Hip flexor stretch against the wall

This is an adapted version of stretch number 4. By letting the wall shorten the hip flexor and hold your foot, your other hand is free to help hold you up. The closer your knee is to the wall the more you will feel this stretch. This is an easier version of the stretch and allows more cursing without fear of falling or dropping your foot. When you want to make this stretch even more intense, lift your chest up in this stretch by placing your hand on something to help you elevate your body and pull the muscle open 🙂 Excuse the finger in that last picture.

You should feel this right below the front of your hip bone on the leg that is back, and in your quad on that leg.


6) Front splits

Now that you have done your splits pre-stretching, slide into the splits! Imagine that you’re trying to touch the wall in front of you with your front foot, and the wall behind you with your back foot. I have something on both sides of me to help my form and help me feel relaxed enough to stretch my splits. Notice that I am looking to the outside of the leg that is in front to help me keep my hips square. Its sad to go from full splits to just your calf touching. If you want to increase how much this stretch hits your hamstring, lean your head forward to your knee. If you want to increase how much this stretch hits your hip flexors, lean back and look at the ceiling.

You should feel this stretch everywhere in your legs.


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7) Middle splits

Since the front and back of your legs are now stretched out, it’s time to get into middle splits. If you are not very flexible, or just want to feel more secure in your stretch, put a block or chair in front of you and place your hands on it. Let your feet slide out, but make sure your toes are in the air! Look at how I am in the first picture. If your feet are flat on the ground, you are doing the stretch wrong. Hang out in this position for a while, then walk your hands and upper body forward a little, while pointing your feet like the second picture. walk your hand and chest back like in the third picture. Walk back and forth to stretch everywhere in your legs. Finally lower yourself down to the floor.

you should feel this stretch the most in your Adductors.


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8) Middle Splits reaches

This stretch is exactly what it looks like. Without leaving the middle splits position, lean one way, try to grab your foot or your ankle and work on getting your head t your knee. Do this on both sides. Also try to reach as far forward as you can in the middle splits. Try to get your lower back straight and tucked under you so you don’t feel like you’re falling over.


9) Middle splits over the top reaches

This is my favorite back stretch. Whenever my low back hurts, I make sure to do this, and the pain goes away completely. The technique is similar to the previous stretch, but the outside arm on whatever side I am leaning towards reaches back through to the other leg. I work on twisting my chest through so my chest is not facing the leg I am leaning towards, but the other leg. The middle stretch for this one just involves grabbing both feet or knees and leaning forward. I find it interesting how much this changes the stretch from reaching both arms forward.


10) Pigeon pose

This stretch and the variations of it are my favorite way to stretch your glutes. Starting on your knees, slide one leg behind you and tuck the other leg in beside that hip bone. Notice I am keeping my hips over the top of my legs, and am not letting myself lean towards one side or the other.

You should feel this in your Glutes, and potentially in other parts of your leg that is tight, such as your Abductors.


11) A harder pigeon pose

For this next stretch, while in pigeon pose, slide your foot that was tucked by you hip bone further up. I usually try to get it to 45 degree angle or a little further. I am still being careful to keep my body upright over the top of my legs. Once I have stayed there for 30 seconds, I move the foot further up. Once I have gotten to the point where my legs are in a “T” position, my knee usually lifts off of the floor. I put my hand on my foot to keep it from sliding back. As I relax into the stretch, The knee drops closer to the ground, and if I had actually been stretching as opposed to just having my picture taken, my knee would be totally on the floor.

You will feel this in your glutes for sure.

12) Wall calf stretch

While this is not my favorite calf stretch by any means, I know everyone has access to a wall. Step into a lunge and lean forward against the wall, keeping your back leg straight. Rotate your back foot in so that your toes are pointed towards the other foot, not straight ahead. The rotation of the foot moves this from a mediocre stretch to a decent stretch.

13) Pike stretch

Do this seated or standing to improve hamstring and lower back flexibility. Keeping your legs straight and preferably together fold forward and touch your toes. To focus on the lower back more than the hamstrings, grab the ankles and focus on getting your head to your knees.



I hope you liked this article, and see just how easy increasing your flexibility can be. While this seems like a pretty comprehensive write up to me, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Biyaro@gmail.com or message me on facebook. Want to Learn more and get your splits in as short a time as possible? want to increase your flexibility further than you thought was possible? Fill out the form here to get a free session with me! I also now offer skype training.

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