What is the difference between a side split or center split with toes up or toes forward?
What is the difference between side split or center split: side split or center split To start with we can say that for most people the structure of the hip joint will not allow someone to simply do a toes forward side split, without shifting anything simply rotating the hips forward.
From a sitting straddle with toes up most people can rotate the hips a little bit forward which means the kneecaps can be rotated forward to different degrees. Some people can do just a few degrees some people can do a little bit more. Eventually the hips will not rotate inwards and the toes will be somewhere between the vertical and the forward position.
Past that point there will be 2 compensations done to allow the big toe to touch the floor:
1- One compensation that is performed is to evate the foot, in other words to lift the arches up and create a knife edge of the foot. This way if you are looking at someone from the side the foot doesn’t look flat but it looks edged.
While this changes nothing at the hip joint because the way the ankle is designed, it creates an illusion that the foot is more forward.
However sometimes you could see somebody do a side split with toes down where the foot is flat and not edged. And this is the other compensation that occurs.
2- Those people either have a special structure of the hip or they do a complete compensation from their pelvis in their lower back. To do this one would hyper extend their spine. In other words the sitting bone or the tailbone will point backward and the lower back will become concave.
The less invert rotation is available at the hip the more someone will arch their back. Most people do both compensations described rolling of the ankle and hyperextending the lumbar spine.
Sometimes you can see this compensation more easily if you start with your chest flat on the floor, toes down full side split and from there you would attempt to lift your body up, you will see that instead of lifting with straight spine the lower back begins to hyper extend.
So in conclusion for most people what we see is flexibility of the ankles and flexibility of their low back demonstrated of course with full flexibility of the adductors and inner hamstrings when they do toes downside split vs toes upside split.
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