Flexibility: How to be safe and improve
From your first splits, to advanced tricks, flexibility is a skill that ranges among dancers from beginner to advance. A lot of dancers want to improve on their flexibility as it can be used as an important advantage within the art. Safe practice, consistency and hard work are vital to ensure effective stretches and improved flexibility.
It is important to understand how each body is different. They vary as some people have longer muscle fibers which help them to stretch their muscles further, and/or less restrictive and shallower sockets and joints which give them more movement. Whether this is you or not, it does not matter! If you are determined and willing, you can get there!
Although there are many quick fixes available with social media and the internet today, some extreme and sometimes dangerous methods can injure you as a dancer in the long run. Improper stretching methods can come with consequences and it is much better to gradually improve in safe ways to elongate your muscles and increase flexibility.
Here are some key tips when stretching:
Cardio. Make sure your body is warm. Dance students often think that they should go straight into difficult stretches. Cold muscles, however, are not going to be limber and may be a cause for injury. You should start with cardio to get your body and muscles warm before your stretching session.
Proper technique. Correct form is vital in order to stretch effectively. Dancers should always maintain their great posture and learned technique while stretching.
Time. As a dancer you must also consider how long you are stretching for and how often. Depending on your individual abilities, (as mentioned above), will vary the exact time you should spend improving your flexibility. If you are super flexi, three sessions a week should be fine whereas if you’re not so limber and wanting to improve as a student you may benefit from five.
Progression. Slowly increase your stretching, as you must work progressively to overload your muscles. You must not overstretch, listen to your body. This is not something that happens overnight, it takes hard work, consistency and commitment.
What not to do:
Avoid extended stretching, do not hold a position for 20 minutes or more
Do not push through severe or sharp pain
Bouncing or jerking muscles can cause injury; holding position are much more effective
If your muscles are tight, use a foam roller instead of more stretching
Don’t stretch too much before a performance as it can stop you from jumping.
Here in store we have many items to help you stretch, our most popular being the theraband or flexistretcher.
As a dancer or even audience member, we can see how flexibility can excel an individual’s form as a dancer. How do you limber up for class? Comment below your favourite stretches.