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I'm rather flexible, but still cannot do the splits. I'm trying to do a static stretching about three times a week, and about 30-60 minutes every time.

But I noticed, that when I'm trying to stretch with my body parallel to floor - holding body on my arms and legs on sides, stretching - after it I feel uncomfortable in my knees. When I'm stretching with my body upright, leaning back on the wall, and my knees looking up, all is good - no pain in the knees.

Is first way harmful? Or just my knees are still not ready?

According to @JohnP comment: good highkicks in my understanding are highkicks I can manage without body incline, with light warming, on a heihgt about 200cm(I'm 186cm), striking with my shin - not with foot lift. Splits will make it real.

Along with splits stretching, I'm trying to stretch splits-transfers - to move from right split to horizontal, and then to left - that helps heavily while turning leg for striking.

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  • There is a positional difference between the two - when using the upright position your legs/knees/heels will be a lot more aligned with your hips, when you're leaning forward your hips are probably drastically out of vertical alignment, this can produce more lateral stresses in your knees. Use whichever position gives you less stress in your knees but still allows a good stretch through the groin area. You also don't need to be able to do the splits to be an awesome kicker.
    – slugster
    Jun 14 '19 at 11:11
  • @slugster, thank you for your comment, glad if you construct an answer from your comment. I know, and I have rather good high kicks, but I want more - more stretch will low stamina necessary for maintaining a kick. Jun 14 '19 at 11:44
  • @user2501323 - It might help if you outlined what you mean by "good high kicks" and what you think the splits might gain for you in your question.
    – JohnP
    Jun 14 '19 at 14:01
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  • @mattm, thank you. Missed these questions Jun 17 '19 at 6:22
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To preface, static flexibility (the ability to achieve a fixed position at the extremes of a joints ROM and hold it), is not necessarily going to improve mobility (the ability of a joint to move through a full ROM).

It is also not necessarily going to impact your ability to kick to certain heights. As a personal anecdote, I am 5'9", cannot achieve anywhere near a full split, but am able to kick to at least my own head height with minimal lean back in a competition or training environment.

One thing people often neglect when they discuss mobility for specific techniques is strength, and it is as important (I would say more important) to work on strength as it is static mobility. I would suggest in a 30-minute session focussed on kicking dedicating maybe 5 minutes to dynamic stretches as part of the warm-up, then spending 20 minutes working on a combination of kicking and traditional strength exercises (glute bridges, standing leg raises, squats, etc.), and finish with 5 minutes of static stretching for the adductors, glutes, and quads as part of the cool down. Increasing ROM in traditional strength exercises will have some carry-over to ROM for kicking.

For higher kicks generally the exercises chosen should focus on the hip flexors - the quads being the largest of these, but also the glutes for rotational strength and stability.

It's also a consideration that some people are anatomically unable to achieve a full split due to the shape of the pelvis and the position of the femoral head within it.

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I trained this is the Chinese system when I was in my 20's extensively, and less with each decade. I regret the loss of some of the flexibility, so I might work back toward greater, because it's really optimal if someone, for instance, gets your leg. But it's exponentially harder to get my leg than it was when I was in my 20's.

  • Joints can be a problem—you've just got to relax.
  • Keep strengthening the muscles around the joints to this end.

I learned floor stretching on hard linoleum and practiced on hardwood, concrete, and stone. (Today I'll take a carpet if I can gt it, not too soft or deep, but I like to remind myself on flagstone;)

½ hour is good, especially for class, where you want max time for training. When I used to do full warmup in my 30's and 40's on my own that could stretch to an hour or more. They say for really doing the split, "watch tv" i.e. do just that as long as you are comfortable.

The main thing is don't over stress the muscle by pushing too far, too fast. It's a slow process of isometric strengthening, and gentle gentle gentle bouncing within your current range of flexibility can be helpful. Do not do not do not use bounding to try and increase flexibility—you will tear something.

I use front and side splits to gently strengthen my knuckles and wrists for punching. Since I rarely have gone all the way down, it's always an extended upper body isometric too, because I support my weight with my fists.

My advice to women would be different than my advice for men, because women's hip structure allow them to really "sit" in the floor with total root, making techniques that utilize it.

In a weapon like jian, this could be determinative (think instant level change below an attack with jian thrust up unto the unguarded guts. People charge people with straight swords, which is always a poor strategy against a short thrusting weapon.)

A male teacher who worked to go all the way down reports hip problems later in life, and is not recommending men be extreme, and I'm adopting that advice, though I still might cheat it if I get back down for one or two moves in a performance context.

In a sword sparring context, as a male, I wouldn't use that split because you need that root to "guarantee" the thrust. I don't know that I could recommend it for women either in sword sparring because the attacker is probably going to damage themselves, even with the blunt sword and protective gear.

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You can do the splits if you warm up enough. Exercising enough will allow you to do the splits easily. Warm up with a long jog on a treadmill then try stretching into the splits. Just be careful: jogging is not best exercise (hard on the body and can put fluid in the lungs making you sick).

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  • Thank you for your answer. I always warm up before - but still incomfortable with my knees while stretching first way. Have found second way (sitting vertically while stretching) optimal for me. Question was a bit about another thing - about proper position for stretching - to avoid knees pain. Jul 4 '19 at 7:31
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    This is unsafe advice. Inflexible people who try to follow it may well injure themselves. Performing the splits for many people requires a year or more of careful, disciplined, well-informed training. Aug 19 at 7:32

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