Seeing your Olympic heroes (ahem, Simone Biles) strike a split pose with ease left and right might have you seriously envious, but worry not! This video with Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland will give you the tools to nail that split you've always dreamed of achieving.
These seven stretches will set you on your way to flexibility perfection. Take care, and get cracking!
Straddle Forward Fold
Start in a straddle position with your feet parallel to each other. Slowly roll down with a flat back and grab your ankles, pulling gently as you work the crown of your head toward the mat. Hold here for about five breaths to be sure the hamstrings are nice and loose before getting into a split (otherwise you risk tearing something).
Dancer's Low Lunge
Come down to one side by bending one knee into a crouching position with the other leg extended straight out to the side, heel on the floor. Support yourself with your hands on the floor below you, keep the foot turned out, and flex the opposite toes. Hold until you get decent stretch, and then move to that opposite side slowly, keeping the toes flexed.
Low Runner's (Crescent) Lunge
Get into a straight-arm plank position. Step one foot forward and plant between your hands. Keep the black flat and back leg straight.
From the crescent lunge, shift your hips back and plant the back knee on the floor. Keep both feet flexed, especially the back foot to target the fascia. Work to keep your hips square by drawing your right hip back as you fold over your front leg. Resist the urge to round out through your thoracic spine, even if it allows you to fold a little bit deeper. Try to keep your back as flat as possible, even if you can't fold quite as deep.
If you have blocks handy, grab a set of blocks. Press on the either side of your front leg and slowly glide yourself into the split by sliding the back leg straight behind you. Feel a little bit of tension in the front leg and with each exhale, try to lower yourself. Relax your shoulders and slowly ease your right hip all the way down. Stay there for a few more breaths, then slowly make your way out.
Downward Dog Split
Place the blocks to the side and press back with your arms, both feet planted behind you at hip width. Shake out the leg and open up the hip a little bit by lifting the leg over toward the opposite side. Then square up the hip and come back to high plank, lowering down into upward facing dog, tops of the feet on the floor. Come back to a neutral spine.
Repeat the same sequence of moves on the opposite side.