Training to Be a Flexible Dancer
Flexibility is a very important quality for a dancer. The more flexibility you possess, the more improvement you’ll see in being aware of your body.
Stretching for Dancers
The Importance of Stretching
A stretching routine in commonly included at the beginning and/or the end of a class, practice, or performance. Stretching helps you prepare your muscles for what they’re about to do, and it can also relax your body after all the stress it goes through during dance. As flexibility increases through stretching, technique, self-discipline, and body awareness improve. This means you’ll be able to better understand the way your body moves and its limitations, and you’ll also be able to identify improvement areas for you to work on.
Types of Stretching
A brief stretch that involves a repetitive motion and it does not hold the end position. Takes advantage of the bouncing or swinging of the limb or trunk to induce the stretch.
- Pro: Improves flexibility in the short term
- Con: Increases risk of injury due to lack of control
Controlled type of stretch. Prepares the body for activity and focuses on the movement requirements for classes, rehearsals, or performances. Should start slowly and progressively increase in speed and power.
- Pro: Decreased risk of injury. Improves coordination.
- Con: Less effective than static stretches in producing long-term flexibility
Elongates the muscle to its tolerance. To be held for 30 seconds and repeated 3 to 4 times. The lengthening of the muscle occurs when relaxing into the stretch.
- Pro: Great for maintaining flexibility
- Con: Requires regular training to produce long-term gains in flexibility
Similar to static stretching, but it’s held for a significantly longer period of time. Medical professionals use this for treating specific pathologies and it is not advisable for dancers.
Stretching Facts & Recommendations
When to stretch
DO stretch after class when muscles are warm
DO NOT stretch before a performance or a major rehearsal, due to detrimental effects on jumping
What to stretch
DO stretch muscles and their connective tissue (fascia)
DO NOT elongate ligaments and joint capsules
How long to stretch
Three to five bouts of 30-second static stretches are sufficient to stretch muscle tissue
How much to stretch
Depends on your body
“Tight” dancers need to stretch more than “loose” dancers
Increasing “loose” dancers’ hyper-mobility can reduce their joint stability
How often to stretch
Once a week to maintain joint range of motion
Three to five times per week to increase range
Females are generally more flexible than males of similar ages
Children become less flexible during their skeletal growth spurt
Adults become less flexible with increasing age
Bella Diva Dance’s new “Yoga for Dancers” class will enable dancers to effectively cross-train, equipping them with greater breath awareness, increased strength & flexibility, and injury prevention & recovery techniques needed to maintain optimal mobility. Whether you are a dancer or not, regardless of your age, gender, or background, this class will make you feel like a dancer. Come join us!