Muscles are like taffy. If you dance without stretching, it’s like trying to pull frozen taffy. But when you stretch, it’s like putting taffy in the microwave; it can move without any resistance.
I’ve always been a competitor, so I’ve been trained to push through the pain during a dance performance or practice. But it’s important to note that stretching should not hurt. Stretching should be a relieving or energizing activity that prepares or cools down your body.
To help guide you on some of my favorite stretches that got me through competition after competition, here are stretches to try at any dance level.
Stretches for Beginners
If you’re new to dancing, chances are you aren’t as flexible. So I suggest doing some easier stretches that will help prime your body for flexibility and endurance, without taking it too far at first.
This simple stretch is a great post-performance cool down. Just sit with your back straight, cross your legs, and let your arms naturally rest on your legs. This is a great post workout form.
This easy stretch is best if the back or hip muscles are feeling tight. As you get more flexible, you can lean further back.
Stretches for Intermediate Dancers
I highly recommend this stretch if you’re in ballet, since most of the stretching you need to do revolves around strengthening your hips and leg muscles. To make the stretch more dynamic, lean forward over the bent leg and back up again.
Another tip for immediate dancers is to invest in a good foam roller. They can help make your stretches more effective as they massage the muscles and facilitate moving into and out of the stretch. This stretch takes more balance, but is excellent for post-performance leg strain.
Dance Expert Stretches
The bridge is a great back and hip stretch that can only be achieved with more flexibility. Some can achieve a great effect by keeping their hands on the ground, but grabbing the ankles can create an even better effect.
Low lunge with band
For more advanced dancers, this low lunge can strengthen the full body. Add a resistance band to both support and enhance the stretch, is also recommended.
This stretch should not be attempted by children under 12 without supervision. To attempt, place both loops of the band will be around the center of the chosen foot and the foam pad will be around the opposite shoulder. Be sure and place the band on the center of the foot to avoid injury. When achieved, this stretch is great for ballet performers to feel more comfortable as well as stretches the legs and back.