Oversplits are a great way to push your range of motion in all three of your splits. Here are some exercises and tips for helping make your oversplits as beneficial as possible!
~Should I be stretching in oversplit?~
Knowing when to stretch oversplit vs split on the floor can be tricky. I generally think oversplits are good to do if your floor split is 12 inches or less away from the ground. If the floor split is higher than that, oversplit might not be as beneficial, mostly because you will be exerting your energy on holding yourself up in the position, instead of focusing on correct muscle engagement and alignment.
~Warm up for oversplit~
100%, yas, warming up for oversplit is essential! Even if I am having an amazing stretching day, and think I could jump into my oversplit a little faster, I still always warm up. I make sure my hip flexors, hamstrings, and back are super warm and the muscles are turned on. I also always do my splits on the ground before going into oversplit. Our bodies are beautifully complicated, and sometimes we have bad days when it comes to stretching. I would rather find out that my body is having an off day when I am stretching on the floor, vs. an oversplit.
How high should the leg be elevated in oversplit? Phenom question Rochelle! Overspilt leg elevation is something each person has to play with. Some of us can use a yoga block for an oversplit, while others need something higher like a couch, panel mat, or stall bars. Whatever height you choose, always air on the side of the height being too short! That way you can always come out of the exercise and add more height. When we start with the leg too high, we could strain something, get discouraged and want to just stop, or we might not honestly be able to get into the stretch. Our oversplit heights are all different, so make sure you play around with choosing the height that is best for you!
~All the oversplits~
I think of oversplits divided into 3 categories...front splits, middle splits, and straddle. The most important thing about oversplit to me is the idea of continuing to move. "Sitting" in an oversplit for five minutes provides zero benefit for your active mobility. It also is dangerous because muscle engagement could be lacking, leading to possible muscle strain or injury. That is why I am always a fan of moving around in my oversplit, to make sure my muscles are still engaged, and I am able to hold myself up. I usually will be still in my oversplit for about 30-45 seconds, but never just minutes on end, "sitting" in it.
Front splits: yas, we all love a good front split! We can position our leg(s) three different ways for front split oversplit: front leg oversplit, back leg oversplit, and in-between oversplit (did I say the word split enough lol?). Front leg oversplit is when the front leg in splits is elevated. This intensifies the hamstring stretch of the front leg. Back leg oversplit is when the back leg is elevated. This super intensifies the stretch of the back leg hip flexor. It also stretches and strengthen the low back, because the back has to be arched in this position. And finally, in between oversplit: this is when front and back leg are elevated. This stretches both the front and the back leg, and is such a good strength workout.
Middle split: my personal favorite! For middle split oversplit, I usually only do one leg elevated. The leg that is elevated is always straight, however the leg on the ground can be bent or straight. Doing one or the other does not intensity the stretch, but purely just a personal comfort preference. I like having my bottom leg bent for this oversplit, and again, just a personal preference! You can do this oversplit with both legs elevated, I find though that I am focusing so much on just holding myself up, that I cannot properly feel a stretch or engage the correct muscles.
Straddle: super beneficial oversplit to have, especially if you are an aerialist, pole dancer, or handbalancer. The amount of times one straddles up in these disciplines is insane, so having a super mobile and strong straddle is important. For straddle oversplit, I mainly focus on one leg elevated. I will do in-between for a little bit at the end, but not focus too much on that. The most important part about straddle overspilt is having emphasis on the low back: once the leg starts getting higher and higher, there is temptation to round the low back, causing the pelvis to face upwards. We want to make sure the hips continue to face forward when stretching oversplit, that way we are actually stretching our adductors, and not just rounding/straining the low back.
~"But Rochelle, what do I do once I am in the oversplit?"~
Excellent question! Head over to my Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility and subscribe!
I have a video going through all three of these oversplits and exercises to do in the oversplit!
I hope this information on oversplits is useful to you! Let me know if you have any questions! Remember to check out my subscription page on Vimeo for more flexibility videos!