This is a fair question that comes from a very common observation.
- So many people can do forward splits and not center splits.
- And many who can do full straddles can’t do left or right ones.
What strikes many people observers of this phenomenon as odd is that adductors (inner thigh muscles) are stretched in every split.
If you are not familiar with anatomy, here you go. All 3 splits.
Middle, Center or Side Split
Open Front Split
True Front Split
The Adductor Muscles
- Adductors are stretched when the leg goes back (back leg of front splits),
- when the leg goes forward (front leg of front splits)
- AND when legs go side to side (as in straddle/center split).
So why for example, everyone who can do a front split can’t also do a middle split? After all, shouldn’t her adductors already be stretched from doing the forward splits?
In theory yes, but in practice... most forward splits are nothing more than glorified hamstrings stretches and deep back extensions.
In most cases the front leg is profoundly stretched, while the back leg is not moved much. And most adductors are flexors of the hip. This means that for the inner thigh muscles to be lengthened in a left/right front split, the back hip joint must be at least at 90 degree angle and almost never is.
Factors to Consider
There are other factors that can prevent forward splitter from doing a straddle split.
- For example the fact that adductors are also stretched due to lateral rotation in the center (side) split.
- Scar tissue and joint injury can be another.
However in most cases that I came across, when a left/right forward splitter is wondering why they can’t do the middle split… it’s because the splits that she has are functional and not structural. (A structural split is when the flexibility is evenly taken from both legs, whereas in a functional front split more flexibility usually comes from the front leg).
Try This Exercise
If you can do a TFS, even a functional one, and want to master a Center Split, try this exercise called ~Integrity~.
Interested in full mastering a split, with every muscle properly stretched? Try our programs:
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