Walking into new dance or fitness class can be scary, no matter what level of dancer you are. The unexpected faces, competent instructors, varying levels of flexibility, and people who appear to swiftly and readily adjust to new choreography may fog your thoughts, distracting you from the reasons you joined up in the first place: to have fun and get fit.
It’s even more aggravating when you realize you’re the only one who can’t touch your toes or perform a high kick. While some people are inherently flexible, others must work hard to get it. As a result, you may be spending more time on flexibility exercises than dancing. It is critical to remember that even the most experienced fitness instructors and dance teachers had to practice, train, and adhere to a healthy stretching program to maintain their flexibility.
So, suppose you’re ready to finally experience the same delayed onset muscle pain and increased range of motion that others have. In that case, this article will show you how to loosen those tight muscles, enhance blood flow, and begin a regular stretching regimen to increase your range of motion.
What is Flexibility and Why Do Dancers Need It?
You are flexible means that your joints can move through a variety of ranges of motion without pain or constraint. However, because typical joint flexibility varies from person to person, many people must labor to maintain a full range of motion. Finally, strengthening your flexibility permits your body to execute daily duties and physical activity without injury, soreness, extreme muscle exhaustion, or pain.
When our muscles, tendons, or ligaments are tight, they impede the movement of our joints, causing pain and a limited range of motion. So, whether you are a skilled dancer or dipping your toes in for the first time by taking a beginner dancing class, it is as essential as our joints require movement. Stretching tight hamstrings or warming up your hip flexors allows your body to loosen up tight muscles and prevent joints from injury. But which flexibility exercises are ideal for your particular range of motion?
The body’s range of motion without movement is referred to as static flexibility. Static flexibility is when an individual can turn, bend, or reach and hold that posture for 30 seconds. You may have heard it referred to as passive flexibility, which may be increased by performing a variety of static stretches.
Dynamic flexibility refers to the ability to move the muscles and joints through their complete range of motion by performing motions. The advantage of enhancing dynamic flexibility through dynamic stretching is that it warms up the soft tissues, allowing the body to operate to its best when conducting daily living tasks and physical activities such as sports, exercise, and dancing.
We use active flexibility training when we train the body to push to its maximal range of motion. Holding a stretch to the point where muscles are firing and burning, for example, stimulates muscle groups and enhances balance and strength.
What Are The Benefits of Being Flexible for Dancing?
Improving one’s flexibility can positively impact one’s life and health. Dancers, like other sports, must warm up their soft tissues and muscles with stretches before activating them with different movements.
A dancer who does not stretch before practice and performance risk a dance-related injury, muscle imbalances, discomfort, weariness, and joint pain. A dancer’s performance and long-term ability to continue dancing can only improve if they stretch or follow a flexible training plan.
Improved Muscle Condition
When you take a dance class, your connective tissue muscles are used to complete a specific set of steps and hold demanding positions. Stretching promotes blood flow and trains muscles to work harder and get stronger, therefore assisting you in becoming more robust and better at dance performance methods.
Many people take good balance for granted, but dancers know it’s crucial to maintain balance to accomplish demanding routines and challenging choreography. Stretching for flexibility enables your muscles to hold poses for extended periods, improving your balance and making you a better dancer.
Stretching daily prepares your mind and body for dancing practice and performance. Flexibility helps your body accomplish more advanced movements while also allowing you to repeat simple moves for extended periods.
Your entire body is more robust, healthier, and more suited to choreography that demonstrates the aesthetic beauty of the body as well as technique mastery. All of this is necessary for a dance routine.
Stretching your back, neck, and shoulder muscles can improve your flexibility and, as a result, your posture. In addition, many dance styles, particularly ballet and ballroom dancing, need good posture.
Flexibility exercises performed before and after dancing help keep a robust and healthy physique. It is critical to focus on flexibility through static, dynamic, and active stretching if you want to be able to dance for years, even into old age.
Dancing has numerous advantages, ranging from reducing stress to improving physical performance. However, you risk damage if you do not stretch properly to gain flexibility. Severe injuries, muscular injuries, and unnatural stress on the body can cut your dancing career short.
Numerous external influences in our life contribute to stress. We certainly want to avoid adding injuries or further stress to an already overburdened mindset due to work, family, relationships, and all the emotions associated with thinking about day-to-day living.
It’s critical to discover something that brings you joy, provides a mental retreat, and is just enjoyable. Dancing increases mental health, which enhances your overall quality of life. Increased flexibility is required to continue dancing throughout your life.
How Can You Improve Your Flexibility If You’re Not Very Flexible Already?
While some people are inherently flexible, flexibility will only appear suddenly if you are one of them. Therefore, you must practice and undertake a flexibility training program to enhance your flexibility for dance class performance.
Starting little increments of increased stretching and flexibility practice every day will improve your physical performance. Here are a few more simple methods to include flexibility exercises in your daily routine:
Arm circles, hip circles, leg swings, strength training, hamstring stretch.
It is critical to listen to your body when stretching to enhance flexibility. If you experience pain or discomfort in addition to forcing your muscles to engage, take a break or try a new technique.
What Are Some Common Stretching Exercises That Dancers Use to Improve Their Flexibility?
I am warming up the body before combining static stretching, dynamic stretching, and ballistic stretching accomplishes dancing.
Observing how professional dancers conduct active isolated stretching and exercises to engage opposing muscle groups is an excellent technique for dancers of all levels to enhance their flexibility.
Let’s look at six stretching exercises that you may incorporate into your daily routine immediately. You can hold these stretches for as long as your body allows without effort or discomfort, ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes.
Standing and Seated Hamstring Stretches
Stand with your knees hip-width apart and your arms by your sides, slightly bent. Bend forward at the hips and stretch your arms toward your toes, wrapping them around the backs of your legs if possible.
Reach your arms forward to touch your toes while sitting with your legs outstretched in front of you. You are allowing your head to drop into your lap. Hamstring stretching isolates the muscles of your neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, and calf.
The piriformis muscle is found outside your glutes and hip flexors. This muscle is in charge of your hips’ mobility and capacity to move and have an optimal range of motion for dancing.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Starting with your right leg, cross it over your left leg, planting your right foot directly on the floor. Place your right hand behind you on the floor and rotate your torso to the right. Rep with your other leg.
People who sit cross-legged frequently experience hip discomfort. Flexibility in the hips is vital for dancing. Perform the frog stretch to stretch out those tight hips.
Get on all fours, your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Stretch your inner thighs toward the floor while leaning back to sit back into your hips, toes turned out. Your chest should come forward, your arms should be spread out in front of you, and your face should be down toward the floor.
The butterfly stretch begins by sitting on the floor with your back erect and the soles of your feet together to exercise for flexibility in the hips, glutes, back, and thighs. Using your hands to hold onto your feet, progressively lean forward as close to your feet while maintaining a straight back, pressing the knees down toward the floor for the best stretch.
Stretch your inner thighs.
Begin in a seated position with your feet together on the floor. Stretch your right leg to the side while keeping your left leg in place. Reach your left arm over your head and toward your right, outstretched toes while maintaining a straight, upright stance. Rep using your left leg. This exercise targets the inner thighs, obliques, arms, and back.
Lay on your stomach, legs spread behind you, elbows lying in front of you. Bend your knees, raising your right leg and reaching behind you with your right arm to grip your leg, pushing your foot toward your buttocks. Rep on the opposite side. This exercise targets your glutes and outer thighs.
By implementing just a few stretching exercises into your daily routine, you can enhance your range of motion, achieve improved balance, maintain joint health, and feel happier and healthier, all of which will benefit your life as a dancer.
Learn more: 5 Benefits of Dancing While Pregnant