All dancers need flexibility, no matter what dance they specialise in. It allows us to move with less strain, stay balanced, and stay comforta-ble. That being said, many people engage in stretching in ways that can do more harm than good. Let’s delve into a few tips to keep you out of harm’s way.
First, and perhaps most important, we should never stretch cold muscles. Think about taking a frozen piece of clay. If you bend it or pull it, it will break. If you warm that same piece of clay up, you can stretch it and mold it without breakage. Our bodies work in a similar fashion. If we stretch cold muscles, there is higher possi-bility of injury. Best cure? Do a light warm up before stretching by running in place,jumping jacks, or just moving around for 2-3 minutes to get your body warm and blood flowing.
The next topic is knowing when to stop the stretch. When we stretch, we need to reach a bit out of the comfort zone to improve our flexibil-ity. However, we shouldn’t go too far! When you stretch, you want to feel slight discomfort but it should not be unbearable. Take your time. You will get more flexi-ble but don’t try to do too much too quickly!
Finally, make sure you are comfortable in your environ-ment and surroundings. Some people engage in Bikram Yoga which is basically like doing yoga in a sauna. If you are not used to that, I wouldn’t rec-ommend diving right into it! For your stretching, use an environment with a comfortable temperature. You should always have water when you engage in any exercise, including stretching to prevent dehydration which can be easier than you think— Don’t let yourself get too thirsty! And always make sure to wear loose fitting clothing. This allows for com-fort— we don’t want our circulation to be cut off— After all, stretching also should improve blood flow!
There you have it, just a few tips to keep you safe while stretch-ing. If you follow these simple rules, you will become more flexible and enjoy your stretch-ing a lot more! Remember, it’s about flexibility, not about get-ting hurt.
Be sure to get to Francesca’s weekly stretch class on Fridays at 7pm! She will stretch you out and get you moldable like that piece of clay!
- Australian Dance-O-Rama 2011
- Practice Makes Perfect!