Training to Be a Flexible Dancer

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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

Stretching to avoid injuries

Ballistic Stretch

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

Dynamic Stretch

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

Static Stretch

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

Prolonged Stretch

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

Gender issues

Females are generally more flexible than males of similar ages

Age issues

Children become less flexible during their skeletal growth spurt

Adults become less flexible with increasing age

Source: https://www.iadms.org

Lizard Lunge yoga stretchA Great Way to Increase Flexibility

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!

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