Hello everyone. Today’s article is a guest post from Cedric Grosjean who owns Dance Direct.
The younger you are, the more flexible you are. Aging makes everyone less flexible as muscles tense and the possibility of injury related to lack of flexibility increases. Professional levels of dance, be it urban dancing or classical ballet, can be reached only with enough strength and flexibility. But even today research on how to train your body to its optimum flexibility is limited.
Even though scientists agree that flexibility depends on such factors as joint and muscle health, age, sex, body fat, and even environmental temperature, they are not sure which types of exercises are more effective for increasing flexibility. Research into sports injury risks has demonstrated an increase in flexibility and ROM (range of motion) due to stretching, so the same can be assumed for dancing. But if scientists are not so sure, why not ask practicing dancers?
Here are 5 top tips for dancers to reach maximum flexibility:
- An injury can set a dancer back for months, so the first and most important rule of thumb is to start every warm up with stretching exercises. This part should never be skipped and time should be taken to diligently perform every stretch. Some dance coaches swear that drinking clear water before and during stretching helps them be more flexible so keep a bottle near and remember: if you feel thirsty, you are not taking in enough liquids to stay properly hydrated. A good trick may be to take a small sip in between each part of your dancing routine.
- Strength and flexibility go hand in hand so you have to practice strength exercises for all body groups as well as the core such as push ups, planks and crunches. As you get stronger, you will also become more flexible.
- Do isolation stretching exercises where you move just one part of your body, and do them slowly. Start with your neck and shoulders and continue until you feel properly stretched. Move on to rib cage and core, then down to the legs which will do most of the work. Some dancers are tempted to skip certain groups of muscles in a hurry to get to practice their dance but it pays off to take your time with each body part. A break down for stretching legs may include pike stretches for the hamstrings, butterflies for the inner thigh, front lunge for the hip flexor, and so on.
- Take your time with stretching. Every part of your body has to be stretched evenly, so it’s important to do each exercise for at least a minute to make sure your body is ready for rigorous dance moves. The longer you stretch, the more flexible you become.
- Always stretch after dancing. Jumping into the shower right after a dancing session is a big no-no. Not only is your hear rate and breathing levels not returned to the state of resting, but your muscles may also be not properly aligned. Stretching after dancing is also more effective because the body is warmed up, circulation is better and oxygen levels higher.
Even though flexibility plays a major part in injury prevention and muscular performance, it is still pretty much unclear what makes some dancers more flexible than others. While research into this important issue continues, secrets learned by practicing dancers through years of experience can help you stay away from trouble and remain flexible as you mature in dancing. So what’s your favourite stretching exercise?
About the Author:
Cedric Grosjean owns www.dancedirect.com, a website focused on providing the best quality dancewear for the lowest prices online! An ex-dancer himself, Cedric understands the need to exercise and warm up correctly before each training session and performance, and also to keep in shape when not actively dancing.