Being able to do the splits involves super stretchy hamstrings, which can be developed over time.
Have the splits always eluded you? Even if it’s not one of your personal fitness goals to be able to go into full splits, working toward it can help to lengthen and strengthen your hamstrings, which can help alleviate low back pain.
Half Sun Salutes
Do this exercise as a warmup. Start by standing with your feet together, big toes touching. You can have your ankles slightly apart if that feels good for your body. Inhale while you bring your arms forward and up above your head. Exhale while doing a forward fold; try to align your fingertips with your toes. Inhale and move up halfway, then exhale and forward fold back down. Next, inhale and bring your arms back up over your head. End with an exhale, bringing your arms down by your sides. Repeat four to eight times.
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you with your feet flexed toward you and your arms by your sides while engaging your core muscles. Press your hands solidly down into the ground, keeping the shoulders down, and bend your elbows slightly back. Your back should not round; if it does, bend your knees slightly, keeping your feet flexed. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths. This position gives you a deep hamstring stretch even though it may not feel like it.
From your seated position, do a seated forward bend. Walk your hands forward and fold your body over your legs. You do not need to reach for your toes but can. You will get a stretch that is appropriate for where your body is now.
To come out of the pose, lift up through your arms and come up with a straight spine. Raise your arms overhead for a long stretch.
Next, position your legs apart to do a wide-leg forward bend. Flex your toes up and back with your kneecaps pointing up. Put your hands on the ground in front of you and start to walk your hands forward. Try not to let your shoulders roll forward. Instead, let your heart lead down, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and release your chest to the ground. When you get to your edge, you can make a pillow with your hands and round through your spine and rest for a more restorative stretch. For a more active stretch, do not round through the spine.
While still seated, stretch to the side. Reach your right arm up over to your left side with your left arm inside your left leg. You can take hold of your foot if you reach it. Stay here five to 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Come into a low lunge with your right foot forward, your left knee touching the ground and left toes uncurled behind you. Place your hands on both sides of your right foot and straighten through your front leg. This might be super intense. Breathe and make sure your spine is straight. Stay here for at least 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
If you’re ready for full splits, slide forward on the front leg with a flexed foot while simultaneously sliding your back leg back into the full stretch. Then you can point the toes and rest down over your front leg.