Have you ever seen one of those Instagram posts of those dancers doing the splits, lifting their front leg all the way up so that it’s balancing on a chair? It always appears so impressive, and will make any dancer wish that they could do the same.
If you are already an experienced dancer, performing the oversplits should be more than feasible for you to achieve at some point. However, this is not something that will be achieved overnight; it will take plenty of time and patience.
In this guide, we will teach you all you need to know about the oversplits, and how you can eventually learn how to do them yourself.
What Are Oversplits?
Before we jump into the best way to perform the oversplits yourself, let’s take a look at exactly what this maneuver involves, and what it takes to be able to do it.
Oversplits are a sort of split where the legs and feet are raised beyond the hips and the split extends beyond 180 degrees. This means that the hips and body are lower than the legs, but without bending the knees backwards (more on that later).
Due to the requirement that practitioners already possess the strong fundamental ability of carrying out conventional splits to their maximum potential, this sort of split can be challenging to execute by someone who is not already highly flexible.
Additionally, in order to do oversplits, extra equipment is often needed since merely stretching on the floor make it insufficient to enable your legs to turn the required 180 degrees.
This additional gear typically takes the shape of blocks or support structures, which are commonly employed by dancers in addition to being used in yoga exercises.
Although most dancers may master this style of split with regular practice, mastering these splits ought to be done cautiously and carefully because they do carry some possible health hazards. It can be challenging to pull off this kind of maneuvering if you are not already very flexible.
How Do Oversplits Benefit You?
So, how are the oversplits any different from other versions of the splits? How can your body benefit from trying out this maneuver?
Students who currently have a flat split and aspire to extend it deeper, or individuals who are just one or two inches shy of a flat split and strive to eventually achieve crotch touchdown, will benefit from oversplit-type workouts.
They are also beneficial for split-oriented trainees who require active adaptability in order to sustain the weight of their bodies in a split in the air, such as in an aerial silks split. Students who want to acquire a flat or nearly flat split are included in this.
As a rule, this is not the kind of maneuver that any person should just try out for fun. If you are not already supple enough to comfortably slip into the splits, the oversplits will almost definitely be too much for you to handle.
The Risks Of Performing The Oversplits
Due to the fact that the oversplits involve the legs being higher than the hips, going beyond the typical 180 degrees, this maneuver can result in many types of injuries if performed incorrectly.
Every form of dance carries some level of danger and injury possibility, but the oversplits in particular present a significant risk.
This is due to the fact that they call for a very high level of flexibility and body awareness from the dancers for the move to be completed correctly and securely.
Because of this, it becomes far more probable for someone to get hurt while attempting the oversplits, particularly if they already have trouble performing some basic splits.
There are dangers involved even with simple floor splits that are comparable to oversplit risks.
Splits of any kind should be avoided at all costs if an individual is not particularly flexible, due to the risk of injury to ligaments, joints, and muscles if the individual stretching exerts their body beyond its limits.
However, performing the oversplits furthers the possibility of getting injured due to the vast extension required of the legs and hips, i.e. overstretching.
When the splits go beyond 180 degrees, the risk of tearing ligaments and damaging muscles is increased greatly.
When a person’s muscles are stretched far beyond their usual range of motion, overstretching takes place. The problem arises from the fact that each dancer will have a unique starting point when it comes to range of motion and innate flexibility.
Stretching may often feel uncomfortable, which is why so many dancers find it difficult to tell the difference between typical stretching and overstretching.
There is often a fine line between the two, making it, often, too late by the time the dancer makes the distinction.
Dancers must therefore be very aware of their own limitations and know the difference between discomfort from regular stretching and pain from excessive stretching.
Below are the most common injuries received while attempting the oversplits, which occur due to overstretching.
When it comes to the possibility of hip issues and injuries, overstretching during oversplits is particularly dangerous.
Hip instability results from overstretching that is sustained for an extended period of time because it loosens the ligaments in the hips.
Dancers and sportsmen who have hip instability are far more likely to sustain hip injuries or hip dislocations that could necessitate extensive medical attention.
A person with hereditary hip instability will be more vulnerable to of developing hip instability when overstretching arises, because inherited characteristics can also play a role in hips being fundamentally fragile.
Hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint has structural issues from birth, can lead to the hip joint dislocating.
If this happens to be the situation, dysplasia may be detected at birth, or it might not become apparent until the performer reaches an advanced age.
As a result, it is crucial for dancers to understand the sturdiness and natural range of motion of their hips. People who have hip problems should stretch carefully and possibly avoid attempting the oversplits altogether.
Another issue that often occurs during attempting the oversplits is overstretching the knees. This is less common than overstretching the hips, but it can become a serious issue if it occurs.
When performing the oversplits, the legs extend more than 180 degrees, with the hips and crotch being lower than the legs themselves. The key is to keep the legs straight during this maneuver.
If not performed correctly, there is a risk of the legs bending backwards at the knee while being extended. This is far more likely to occur if a person is doing the oversplits with a leg extended upwards, e.g., against a chair while they are sat on the floor.
This may result in the ligaments in the knee snapping, or the kneecap fully dislocating. Therefore, once again, it is so important for dancers to know their body’s limits, and to not push themselves too far while attempting the oversplits.
How To Minimize Damage To Your Body While Performing The Oversplits
It is no secret that the most significant factor in reducing the dangers of overstretching is patience. The truth is that training the body to go beyond its natural range of motion requires a lot of work and commitment, and it will not happen overnight.
If you try to force it to happen overnight, you will inevitably receive injuries. It is simply not worth the risk.
If improving flexibility is your aim, you should work towards it gradually over the course of, at very least, six weeks.
The best time to attempt these kinds of stretching is after warming up for a rehearsal or a performance, while the muscles are already heated and more prone to undergo lasting alterations. During this period, your flexibility should be increased.
You can also reduce your risk of injury by drinking enough of water and stretching with correct technique at all times. Additionally, it is crucial to wear the appropriate clothing or footwear, including any equipment used to practice oversplits.
Furthermore, you should refrain from working out if you are worn out or in pain. Always pay attention to your body’s signals and refrain from pushing yourself if your joints are already hurting.
How To Do The Oversplits
Now that you are aware of the risks of the oversplits, it is time for you to give it a try. Remember to take it easy, and don’t push yourself too hard.
Placing A Block Under Your Back Foot
You might want to kick things off by placing a block beneath the rear foot as you initiate your oversplit exercises. This aids in focusing on the hip flexors, which are located in front of the hip of the back-leg.
Since the hip flexors are typically the weaker area in the majority of people’s splits, these are crucial to extend.
Stretch out into a split while keeping your body raised after placing a block beneath the top of your back foot. You can eliminate the added stretch for your hip flexors provided by the block by leaning forward and allowing your pelvis to tilt upwards.
If your hands aren’t reaching the floor, you might want to think about keeping blocks beneath your hands.
To get acclimated to the additional hip flexor stretch and the quad engagement required for straightening the back leg, proceed with a few knee-straightens.
Aim for 5–10 straightens of the knee, then keep it straight while lifting the knee and tensing the quads. Maintain this for ten seconds.
Your rear leg oversplit hold can be held for up to 30 seconds as you grow stronger and more limber. When performing knee lifts, if you find that your front knee is bending past 180 degrees, you may want to support that knee with an additional block.
Placing A Block Under Your Front Foot
When most people think of oversplits, they typically visualise elevating the front leg.
We recommend starting by placing the block under your front calf rather than your foot to lessen the impact on the knee joint, because this one can put extra stress on the front knee.
As you gain strength, you can gradually move the block closer to your foot for your oversplit holds.
Beginning with some leg straightens with a block underneath your front thigh or knee to assist prepare your body for the quad engagement needed for cushioning your front knee in oversplits.
Maintaining a tiny bend in your knee and your foot on the ground, slide out into a split and place a block beneath your thigh near your knee.
Then, as though attempting to raise your foot off the ground, contract your quadriceps in order to align your front leg.
You may want to begin working on the highest or medium height preset, as lifting the foot is simpler when the block is taller. Try lifts of 5–10 feet to start with.
Finally, descend into your oversplit with the block holding your front leg as you stretch forward to slip the block under your front calf. Gently contract your quadriceps as you do this. For 10 to 30 seconds, hold this position.
Placing Blocks Under Both Legs
Ultimately, after you are able to perform the aforementioned exercises with your hips flat on the ground, you can either place a block under each leg or begin practicing double oversplits with blocks underneath each of your legs.
In order to be softer on your knee, you should position the front block nearer to it than you did with the front leg oversplits. Additionally, it should be nearer to your foot so that your quads will have to participate more actively to protect your knee.
In general, you should pick a posture that is difficult to keep for 20 to 30 seconds without experiencing pain or too much discomfort.
While this is an impressive maneuver to perform, it is important that you do not push yourself too hard while trying to achieve it. Take your time, and always remember to listen to your body’s signals.
Keep our tips in mind, and remember to be patient as you go on. We hope you found this article helpful.