I always do Pilates with Cassie Ho for the strength part of my workouts. Last month, while pulling up a new workout, I came across a video of hers called 30 Days to Splits. I've always been pretty flexible, but not able to do a split, so I knew I wanted to try this right away. Honestly, the video does not tell you much, all you really need is the graphic below (found here).
On both the video and site she tells you that #1-5 are your foundation stretches, which you'll be doing every day. For the first five days you'll only do those, and after that you will also do the stretch number that corresponds with the day you are on. So on day 6 you'd do 1-5 + #6, and on day 30 you would do 1-5 and #30. For each stretch you need to do 1 minute per side, and it will take about 10 minutes a day.
Well, I just finished up my 30 days and am here to report back!
The Good ~
The foundation stretches really are the key here. The first five days were a little boring, since you aren't adding in anything new, but after a week I noticed that I was definitely able to stretch further than I had before! For example, on #2 I started off touching the floor with my finger tips, and by the end of the month I had my palms flat on the floor. (I wasn't a huge fan of #4, just because my knee was so high up, I wasn't sure where to put my knee or my arms.)
The Bad ~
I guess I'm used to quick stretches, and went into this thinking stretching feels 'good'. But when you hold a stretch for a long time, it quickly goes from refreshing to uncomfortable and even slightly painful. One minute sounds short, but when you are holding a slightly painful position, it feels like a really long time! On the first day I realized this was not going to be relaxing and fun.
I also did not like most of the additional stretches (6-30). Some were good, but there are so many I can't remember which ones were. Some I would avoid all together ~ #16 & 17 hurt my shoulders, and #24 actually left bruises on my knees! (even with carpet & extra padding) While the extra stretches help you keep track of which day you are on and add a little excitement, if I were to do this again I would just pick a month, do the first 5 stretches, and then hold a split as low as I can (for 1 min.) each day.
The Results ~
I started out already being able to go pretty low, about 6" away from a split. After the month, I am definitely more flexible on those foundational stretches, but still about 4" away from the split. :( The last week or so I started adding a split as a 6th stretch (holding it as low as I could for 1 min.), and that seemed to really improve things. Wish I'd been doing that all along!
In the end, I feel like I definitely learned a lot about stretching and was impressed with how much you can improve your flexibility by holding stretches each day. I have mixed feelings about this particular challenge because while the foundational stretches were great and did help, I think the rest should probably be ditched and replaced with a split stretch. If it couldn't get me from 6" away to a full split, it's probably not going to work for most people! While I definitely took day 31 off, I saw so much improvement that I will continue to do these stretches most days until I reach the elusive split.