ALWAYS REMEMBER: To get the best results at stretching your body needs to be warm, so firstly get the blood pumping by going for a light run, jogging or skipping beforehand. This gets your blood circulating and more oxygen to the muscles. After this you need to lightly stretch and get your muscles prepared for more strenuous work. You should NEVER go straight into the splits without any warm up or stretching exercises. Then you are ready to begin.
1. To start, go into a shoulder-width apart forward stance and then put your back knee on the floor along with the top of the back foot. Your hips are now square (keep them that way) and in the right position to start. Imagine railway tracks with one foot on one track and the back foot on the other.
2. From this position gently straighten your front leg and go onto your heel. Try and keep your legs in straight lines. Place one hand either side of your front knee and support your weight on the palms of your hands.
3. From here very gently push your front leg in a straight line forward. Remember your front toes should be pointing towards the ceiling and the top of your back foot should be on the floor. Ensure your hips are square. If you try and distort your body to get lower to the floor you may possibly do damage to other areas namely your knees.
4. Once you are at your maximum stretch remember to keep breathing, to allow the oxygen to flow around your body, and hold the position.
Stretching should never hurt, it may be uncomfortable but you should never feel pain. If you do, stop stretching at once. Remember to take your time and go at your own pace.
5. To start hold this position for a few minutes and then change direction. Repeat this 3-4 times. When you feel you are ready to take the next step, take a deep breath in and try and relax all your muscles. As you breathe out gently try edging your foot forward a cm and hold this position, then change direction.
Never force yourself down into a position or do the movement abruptly. Remember everything should be done gently combined with your breathing.
6. As you gradually get used to this position you can try edging forward every minute on an out-breath. Take your time, over stretching can also cause injuries. Slowly and one step at a time. Like everything in the martial arts it takes practise.