Why You Need the Straddle Pancake
Before you dive into this article, let’s test a diagnostic out. Stop what you are doing right now, and regardless of where you’re at, we’ve got a fun drill for you to try. Sit down on the ground with your legs spread wide in a straddle. Now keeping your lower back flat, and your knees straight, fold at your hips so that your upper body flattens to the floor.
How close to the floor did your chest make it? Was it harder than you thought?
If you are like most adults, your performance in this stretch position is probably … well lacking, but on par for the majority of us. Not to worry, here, we’ll discuss why you need a flat straddle pancake, and how you can go about stretching – regardless of where you start – to improve this position.
Why you need the Straddle Pancake
To answer this question, first simply consider what having a full range of motion in your hips – every day – might feel like for you. Next, consider what it can do for you. In a nutshell, working this stretch will give your hips and lower back pain-free mobility both inside and outside of the gym, easily achievable by working through proper progressions towards the full straddle pancake stretch. Worth it? You bet.
If you cannot sit on the floor without excessively rounding your lower back, then your hamstrings are entirely way too tight. If the front of your hips (hip flexors), cramp up from simply sitting down, then that should serve as a wake-up call for you that your hips are not working correctly, and you should do something about it!
How you get there
Here are two simple ways to progress yourself into the straddle pancake stretch in order to make it most the most effective stretch it can be for your current level of flexibility.
Start earning your straddle pancake with stretches like this from the GB Stretch Courses!
Drill 1: Let Gravity Do The Work
Let’s be smart and let gravity do some of the heavy-lifting, so to speak. For the first drill, stand tall, with your legs wide in a straddle, doing your best to keep your feet parallel with your knees straight. Flatten your back and fold at your hips, reaching all the way down in between your legs. Do not stop when your hands touch the floor, but rather bend your elbows and keep descending as far as you can go. This will be different for everyone. If this scale down is not intense enough for you, you can grab your ankles to pull your body further down to the ground. Hold this position for the desired amount of time, letting gravity stretch your hamstrings and adductors for you.
Drill 2: Let’s Make This A Little Easier
From here, it might seem like keeping your back flat while sitting on the floor is a far, far away goal. For your next scale down, grab a few pillows or yoga blocks and set them under your hips. By sitting on an elevated surface, you are “tilting” your torso towards the ground, again allowing gravity to naturally help you stretch just a little bit further. Now, with your legs straddled wide, knees locked, and hips elevated, keep your back flat, and do your best to gently sink deeper into the stretch. If it helps, imagine getting your belly button to the floor, not just your head or chest.
Skill transfer: Press Handstand and Manna
The straddle pancake is useful for daily pain-free functional living, and for fitness pursuits. It demonstrates full functional range of motion in your hips, and is necessary for the strength and mobility you’ll need if you’re working towards mastering the press handstand and the very sought after superhuman manna.Enjoy the sweet benefits of the straddle pancake and level up your at-home strength and mobility training, and your daily life with this and other fully scale-able stretches in the Gymnasticbodies Middle Splits Stretch Course.