When I was about 10 years old I decided my life’s mission was to be able to do the splits. My future success depended on this! Every day I diligently tried and held my best attempt at the splits in each direction. And let’s be clear… even at age 10 … I started out my quest a good foot from the ground. Not even close when I should have been my most flexible self. And after months of practice – I improved to about 10 inches from the ground. Still a far cry from my goal.
My second goal was to be able to do an Angel Touch – if you aren’t sure what this is I’ll explain. Laying on your stomach bend your head and back towards your feet and your legs and toes to your head – then make your toes touch your head. Presto- Angel Touch! This one I actually succeeded at after much practice. To date this skill has not really come in handy too many times. But at 10, it was an accomplishment and a goal I had worked hard to achieve. It also took the sting of the failed splits away a bit.
This morning I took a Barre class and was once again reminded just how inflexible I really am. And I’m a Pilates instructor! It’s something I work on and I have made improvements – but at this point I have given up hope of being limber like a ballerina… and that’s ok.
For fun when I got home, I decided to see just how far off the ground I would be doing the splits now. To be honest – my attempt looked more like I was doing triangle pose in yoga! It felt like I strained my hamstring trying!! Some things just aren’t meant to be!
I know working on flexibility is important but working within your abilities and your body’s unique build is key to avoiding injury. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to emulate what others are doing and trying to mimic the person next to you in class. Some folks are just born more flexible than others. For me – I have tight hamstrings – always have, but I’m more flexible in my spine. Know your limits, incorporate stretching or pilates into your routine and you will see improvements. And for me, I’m kind of glad I struggle with flexibility because it keeps me working at it and helps me relate to my clients who are also not ballerinas.