Straddle (Side Split) Muscle and Joint Injuries

Muscle imbalance is a common cause.

In the past most people tried to achieve their straddle split, by forcing the legs apart. Either using a partner, a stretching machine or their own bodyweight.

This method of course works, since many have gotten their split this way...

Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantage of this method is simplicity… Just sit or stand and PUSH.

When doing it this way, you know where you are, you have a mental picture of where you want to be. You simply have to stretch your body into your desired position.

Of course the dis-advantage of “I am here, I want to be there and I will force myself there” is injuries and time.

When talking about side split (center split) specifically, 25-30% of people using the above described method develop a unilateral hip injury. Sometimes it’s a joint and sometimes it’s a muscle (or group of muscles) and sometimes it’s both.

More people injure the flexible side as opposite to tight side. This means that if the right adductors are tighter, the left have a higher chance of being injured. This simply because the constricted side refused to give, and the looser side stretches more and more. Often to the point of injury.

Usually people assume that when training their straddles, by forcing the legs apart, both sides stretch equally. Most of the time, that’s not the case.

Test for yourself.

  • Lay down on your back and lift your thighs vertically. You can try this with bent or straight legs.
  • Keep your back flat. (Don’t let one side of your body to come up).
  • Separate your legs apart.
  • Most likely you will notice one leg more to the side than the other.
  • Of course the more flexible leg is closer to the floor. The tighter one is more vertical.

Our Method: ZST (Zaichik Stretching Techniques)

With ZST’s (Zaichik Stretching Technique’s) we can go even further and check with muscle is more flexible or tight and on which leg. But we’ll leave it with general “side vs side”.

If you noticed that your legs are not equally flexible, you are at a higher chance of injury.

What to do

  • What do we recommend? Stretch each muscle separately.

If you do this, the tighter side will have to lengthen. As opposed to slacking off and letting the other side take most of the “responsibility.”

Try this exercise

For example try and exercise called ~Certainty~, targeting the pectineus muscle and see if both sides feel and look the same.

Interested in full mastering a split, with every muscle properly stretched? Try our programs:

Side Splits Combo


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Steven Slezak - August 25, 2022

Would love to read about side stretching and splits …

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