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Recently I made something I've been thinking about for ages - two boards hinged together to support the legs in the front splits. The pins of the hinges are level with the top surface, so that body parts dont get trapped (OUCH!) as you go down. It has a rubber mat glued on the top surface for comfort and to stop sliding. The hinges are arranged so that the range of movement is 270+ degrees, allowing bending both ways. A problem I have is that my front knee tends to hyperextend in oversplits,  and this support means the legs stay straight.

Once I got my splits flat, I was told I should move to oversplits, not for aesthetic reasons (I think they are unaesthetic) but to make the flat splits easier and to bring them into my normal repertoire of movements without much warmup. These boards have made that much easier.

In the first of the attached pictures (top left) shows the boards raised if you're not yet down in flat splits. You can use a rolled up rubber mat as the middle support, so that you get partial support while still sinking into the stretch. The top right picture shows a flat split. My hips are level and nearly square. Note that I'm pulling myself down and slighly back with my arms. This locks the spine, and makes a strong backward bend at the front of the hip joint of the leg going back - the most difficult thing to stretch. This move has loosened up the front of the hips considerably. The lower left picture shows a 1-block each side oversplit. My hips are almost but not quite level, there is a small gap under the rear thigh, I'm leaning forward more which means most of the extra stretch is happening in the front hamstring. Not too good, but not too bad either - this position will make progress. The last picture on the lower right shows 2-blocks each side oversplit. Too far. Any extra bend in the legs has occurred because the hips have tilted, not because of an extra stretch. Not good -  though I see lots of oversplits done like that.
 

Splits board May 2021s.jpg

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What a great idea, Jim. Thank you for sharing!

 

Just curious: Did you mean to post in the workout logs forum? If not, let me know and I will move the post. However, if you're planning to use this thread to keep us updated on your progress using this device then it makes sense, and I look forward to seeing what happens!

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I went ahead and moved it to All topics relating to 'Stretch Therapy' (with a link in the original location) as I think it will get more exposure here, and some of the more handy ST practitioners might even try to build their own!

Looking forward to your 2030 update! :lol:

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Hi @Jim Pickles, this looks really great.

I work with young girls and some of them have nice splits, but I hesitate to let them do oversplits as they tend do hyperextend the knee. With the support of the whole leg as shown by you, this would be prevented. I'll try it!

 

Me myself am far away from splits like this -so let me express my respect for your impressive split. This is inspiring and motivating!

Thank you!

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  • 1 month later...

@Jim Pickles: That is a brilliant design, and excellent for every level stretcher, I feel, even beginners. What I most like about it is the fact that both legs 'feel the floor', no matter how far from the floor in reality. This must reduce the apprehension reflex considerably. Would you kindly show some close-up images of the hinges and how you fastened them to the boards, please. The only suggestion is to have a strap be part of the construction, to hold the top of the back leg down—but perhaps not necessary. I am thinking more of intermediate level stretchers. 

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@Kit_LGlad you like it. I'm away from home at the moment but will post a pic when I get back. I have tried a strap for the back leg, but found it too awkward - to get it tight enough up near the buttock, out of the way of the supporting blocks, and it being asymmetric to the side (obviously, the leg that is going back is towards one side of the board) all meant it was more of a fuss to adjust properly than was worth it. I'm still thinking of ways to get it right though. Pulling back and down with the arms as shown does nearly the same thing, and is easy and highly adjustable, and make it possible to easily direct the force to where it is needed - the very front of the hip (the only issue is that any blocks under the hinge region have to be out of the way of the hands).

And yes, it is very good and easy to use when you are well above a flat split, giving a safe and easy approach.

Jim.

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@Kit_LHere are closeups of the hinges. They are gate hinges (one long, one short arm, 2 off) with a gap on the side where the long arm is so that the boards can fold backwards 90 degrees against each other (last pic). The hinges are flush with the surface of the top side of the board, and bolted through because wood screws might pull out (the black tape is covering the nuts and bolt heads). The little bit of hinge showing on the top surface in pics 1 and 4 is usually covered with tape, so it doesnt catch on clothing. It is of course important that the top surface of the join is arranged so that there is no danger of any body part getting trapped as one goes down into the split (the wooden edges in fact move apart a bit as one goes down into the split, and the rubber mat adds extra protection).

The only thing I would do differently is to bend the hinges a bit so that the hinge pin was raised a few more mm above the top surface, rather than being level with it [added later - in fact the centres of the hinge pins are about 3 mm above the top surface of the board, due to the thickness of the steel and the width of the hinge pin]. I had always intended to use a rubber mat on top, but hadnt realised how much it would slide around in use, so had to glue it in place. Now the extra thickness means that the boards dont quite fold flat against each other (pic no 3), which would be more useful for transport and storing. They were very easy to make, taking only a few minutes. Cut a plank of wood in half, drill a few holes (in the right places), bolt together, and voila!

As you point out, its good for all level of splits, even for people who are a long way from flat. As well as reducing the apprehension reflex as you say, it gives good feedback as to leg position when you are well off the floor. Usually, people who are well away from flat have to have a big bend in the back knee, which gives them a poor indication of where they're at.

Jim.

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