At Pole Exercise, we are always looking for new ways to improve our flexibility. Pole routines always look that little bit more impressive if you’ve got the flex, even men are competing on a world stage demonstrating incredible flexibility. Our very own DVD 2 featured a professional gymnast and a level approach to flexibility, but we were lucky enough to have expert gymnast and pole sport coach, Davide Lacagnina, gives his top tips for getting into the splits using gravity and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (ooh very fancy!) during the suspension split.
As always, ensure that you are in good healthy and fit state before attempting to start new stretches. Your body should be warm. Here is David’s best guide to working yourself into the amazing suspension split position! With this type of extreme split, you need a huge amount of core, stability and strength. You also need to be able to achieve a perfect split on the floor BEFORE you start to train the suspension split!
Who is David?
Davide Lacagnina is the trainer of World Pole Champion Alessandra Marchetti. As sponsored athletes of Aurelian Sports and ambassadors of the Grip-Pole sports pole, they are currently touring Europe offering pole sport workshops.
The suspension split position:
First of all, get yourself something that is at least 30cm high from the ground (steps are perfect) , place these objects at a distance equal (or nearly) to the length of your legs; of course you’ll have to put one in front of you and the other behind you. When you have found the right distance for your legs, place yourself in the split, taking care to put the heel of the front leg almost on the edge of the step. You should position your back leg making sure that the knee remains off the step.
At this point, straighten the body to bring the weight directly to the centre of the legs. In this way you will feel the muscles of your legs begin to pull in a very strong addition to your weight, the force of gravity will attract you to the floor. In this first stage adaptation of the muscles, it is very important to stay straight with the body; for this reason I recommend having something to rest your hands on.
This first phase should last at least 2 minutes, and you can manage it by yourself …but if you really want to increase the load, then here comes the second phase – pushing down and contraction (PNF stretching). Your coach will position themselves behind you, holding underneath your armpits, and at this point will start pushing down your body. At the same time you will push it up, as if you wanted to close your legs. Hold this position for about 10 seconds, then immediately relax your legs; your split will drop quickly to the floor! Why? Simple, if you try to join the PNF stretching sequence (Episode 2: Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) with this suspension position, the result will be even more visible with the help of gravity – it will push you down with a force of approximately 17kg .
So, your coach + the gravity = A very strong mix of pushing!
Keep this second phase (after the PNF stretch) for another 3 minutes, then repeat all with the other leg. I should remind all of you to only perform these workouts after an intense warm up, you should never (for any reason) try to perform these stretching exercises with cold muscles! Have fun…
May the flexibility be with you!