A split is a human body configuration in which the legs are parallel to each other and extended in opposite directions. Splits are performed in various athletic activities, including dance, figure skating, gymnastics, martial arts, contortionism, synchronized swimming, cheerleading and yoga. A person who has assumed a split position is said to be "in a split."
When executing a split, the lines defined by the inner thighs of the legs form an unusually large, 180 degree angle. This large angle significantly stretches, and thus mandates excellent flexibility of, the hamstring and iliopsoas muscles. Consequently, splits are often used as a stretching exercise to warm up and enhance the flexibility of leg muscles.
There are two general forms of splits:
There are many variations of form and performance of splits, including:
A common problem encountered during a side split is pain in the hip joints. Usually, the reason for this is that the split is being performed improperly (the pelvis may need to be tilted forward). Another common problem encountered during splits (both front and side) is pain in the knees.
Many people lack the flexibility required to execute a split and thus regard splits to be uncomfortable or even painful. Because of this widespread view, splits appear in slapstick comedy, schadenfreude, and other forms of entertainment.
Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is known for his ability to do suspended splits. Professional wrestler Rob Van Dam invented the "Van Dam lift", in which he lifted weights while in a suspended split; other professional wrestlers, such as Melina Perez, have helped to popularize this stunt. Former Pussycat Dolls Kimberly Wyatt and Carmit Bachar are notable for their standing oversplits. Model Karen McDougal is notable for her straddle split.
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