Front Splits - It's not (just) the Hamstrings

In the range of postures associated with modern yoga practice, front splits are one of the most frequently aspired to, along with wheel pose, and head- and hand stands.

Difficulties accessing and practicing  front splits / forward splits / hanumanasana, are often considered to be tight hamstrings.

Of course a certain amount of length on the back body is helpful to straighten the front leg while keeping the body upright.
However, the main overlooked mobility aspect in front splits is the backbend of the body on the side where the leg reaches out behind.

The entire side of the body, from toes to fingers is in extension.
Note too the backbend throughout the upper leg - pelvis region.
Upper thigh muscles are often chronically tight, along with the hip flexors. To avoid the hips twisting open to the side, the front portion of the inner thigh muscles, the upper portion of the front of thigh muscles and the lower hipflexor muscles need to produce coordinated length for this pose to be comfortable.
Backward extension needs to also be included in the thoracic spine and shoulders. This includes ribcage mobility and free movement of the shoulder blade.

Splits are a whole body pose, even when at first glance it looks like mainly the legs are extending in opposite directions.

To accommodate the opposite actions on each hip, one side in flexion, the other in extension, the sacro-iliac joints connection the hips to the spine,need to have some level of mobility while at the same time be securely supported to prevent feelings of lower back compression.

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