You have likely seen those women in yoga class who can easily do a full straddle split and think they were probably just born with the ability. While every person’s body and level of flexibility is different, with practice and a regular stretching routine you can improve your straddle ability. People who are active and engage in activities like running, for example, or who sit for long periods of time can develop tightness and stiffness in their hips. By targeting the hips and their supporting muscles, which are the glutes and the inner and outer thighs, with the right stretches, you can likely deepen your straddles.
Standing Straddle Stretch
Stand with your feet spread approximately 3 to 4 feet apart, with your toes pointing forward and the inner edges of your feet parallel to each other.
Place your hands on your hips. Pull your stomach muscles in and push your shoulder blades down your back. Lift your chest and gaze directly forward to maintain a neutral neck.
Hinge at the hips and lower your torso toward your thighs, going as far down as you are able. Maintain a straight torso throughout the stretch. Allow the top of your head to relax toward the floor.
Place both hands on the floor between your legs and in line with your feet. Press your hands into the floor to move your torso farther in toward your thighs to deepen the stretch in your hips and inner thighs.
Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Place your hands back on your hips and slowly lift your torso back to the starting position.
Bound Angle Pose
Sit tall on an exercise mat with your abdominal muscles engaged. Extend your legs straight out in front of you. Place a rolled-up blanket under your buttocks if your hips are particularly tight.
Bend your knees and bring the heels of your feet together to touch in front of your pelvis. Allow your knees to relax out to the sides so the soles of your feet are pressed together. Rest the outer edges of your feet on the floor. Bring your heels close to your pelvis so you feel a stretch in the hips.
Ease your knees farther down to the mat, but avoid forcing them to touch the floor. As your hip flexibility increases, you will likely find it easier to reach the full extension of the stretch.
Grasp your big toes with your thumb and first and second finger. Hinge at the hips and bend forward. Maintain a straight back as you bring your torso to your thighs. Relax your head and shoulders over your toes. Rest your arms on the floor in front of your legs.
Hold the stretch for one to five minutes. Slowly inhale and exhale through your nose throughout the stretch. Release the pose by lifting your torso and extending your legs out in front of you.
- Avoid the full forward bend in the standing straddle stretch if you feel stress in your lower back. Instead, bring the torso parallel to the floor and keep your abdominal muscles engaged to support the back.
- Discontinue the Bound Angle pose immediately and consult with a physician if you feel any pain in your knees or hips. Stress felt in either joint can be a sign of an injury.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.