Keeping your body healthy and safe is key as a dancer. Stretching daily helps you achieve a healthy happy body. You will improve your performance if you make stretching part of your weekly routine. It is great for all ages and all body types. You will Increase blood flow to your body/muscles and it will also lengthen your muscles.
***Stretching is NOT a warm-up for anything***
You should actually warm your body up before any type of stretching routine. A simple light walking or jogging to warm up your muscle will prevent injuries.
There are many different benefits of stretching.
- Flexibility: The one thing every dancer would like to improve on is flexibility. In order to help with flexibility, you need to lengthen your muscles. You lengthen your muscles by stretching. The more you move the more flexible you become. The more your movement appears free like.
- Stress reliever: Stretching is a way to release tension in your body. People can carry stress in their muscles which will make the muscles feel tight. Stretching allows you to relax your mind and as you stretch more, blood will flow throughout your body which in return will allow your muscles to loosen up.
- Proper posture: As a dancer you will want to have proper alignment. By lengthening your muscles via stretching, you will improve your body’s alignment. This will create prettier lines when dancing.
What to focus on:
- Sore muscles or muscles that are tight should get extra attention. This will allow movement to happen more freely and soreness will disappear.
- Focus on stretching correctly. If you do a stretch incorrectly, you can cause injury to your body. Pay attention to both sides of your body (right and left). Make sure you are doing stretches that are specific to your sport.
- Focus on 10 minutes per day at least 2 to 3 times a week. You do not have to make stretching part of a daily routine. Keep up with what kind of stretches you are doing and when stretching try to hold each particular stretch for 30-60 seconds. This will give you the most benefit.
- Never bounce when stretching. Bouncing while stretching can increase the risk of injury. You want to keep all movements smooth.
You should never feel pain when stretching. You may feel some tension, but not pain. If you feel pain while doing any type of stretch, your brain is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Pain to me means STOP. Your body is trying to protect itself. Not stopping can cause injury to your muscles. You could even be putting pressure on your joints or could even create small tears in the muscles. Listen to what your body is telling you. I know sometimes as a dancer, we want to push ourselves to be the best we can be, but sometimes slow and steady is better.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advise. Always ask your physician what is best for you.