Splits are a staple of a cheerleader's workout and can help with our jumps, stunts, and tumbling. Achieving splits is no simple task, though. It requires a lot of stretching and patience. Rushing into splits could result in serious injury. The best way to go about it is little by little.
It's been a while since I was a competitive cheerleader myself, and even when I was on the squad, I wasn't known for my splits. However, I do enjoy doing a combo of splits stretches and beginner's-level yoga moves at the end of the day. Ten or 15 minutes of slow-and-steady stretching helps me unwind after a long day of activity.
Some of my favorite classic cheer practice moves are static stretches like lunges, calf stretches, and butterflies. I try to hold the moves for 10 to 15 seconds and maybe add a few seconds if I feel up to it. When I'm focusing on stretching out one leg at a time, I always do the stretch twice, and I alternate which leg I stretch first. It always seems like one side is more flexible than the other, so I do what I can to even out my flexibility.
Simple yoga moves add a little excitement to a lineup of traditional stretches. Warrior and Triangle poses help to build up my leg strength and stretch out my back and shoulders. Pigeon Pose, my personal favorite, has been a staple in my cheer-stretching regimen since I was in high school. Little did I know back then that my team was doing yoga! It's a great way to work the quads and prep for splits.
After about 10 minutes of stretching, once I feel that my legs are both suitably stretched out, I go into my splits. There's no set time for how long I hold each split; personally, I go for feelings over numbers. The little burn that comes with pushing yourself to do better than before? Totally normal. However, it's always important not to push yourself to a point where you're in any sort of pain.
Overall, I probably spend 15 minutes stretching every night. I put on my favorite tunes or let my mind wander. Stretching before bed isn't just a workout cool-down; it's a way to wind down from all the activity of the day. Every week it seems like my split gets a teeny bit closer to where it was when I was a competitive cheerleader, and maybe even beyond that.
Cheerleaders who have their splits, you have my admiration (and a little bit of my jealousy, I'll admit it!). For those of you who are still on your journey to splits like me, remember that working a little bit every day and being sure not to push yourself too much will show results over time. Have patience, and you'll see results!
About the Author
Paige is a former competitive cheerleader who enjoys reading, sewing, and crocheting.