6 Smart Stretching & Flexibility Tips for Dancers

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Stretching, one of the key elements of dance, improves flexibility, reduces muscle soreness, & decreases risk of injury. Here are some of my tips on how to get the most out of your stretches and reach your flexibility goals.

1.       Warm Up

It is important that you always warm up before stretching, as muscles are more elastic and less prone to tear when warm. A good rule is to aim for a five-minute dynamic warm-up before you stretch. This includes exercises like lunges, leg swings, plies, jumping jacks or any other exercise that gets your blood pumping and involves some degree of flexibility and range of motion.

2. Stretching Regularly

Stretching consistently is necessary if you want to come flexible. Get into the habit of taking 15-20 minutes, 4-5 times a week to stretch. You will become significantly more flexible with patience and time. Work progressively at your own pace and slowly increase the difficulty of your stretches at a rate you are comfortable with.

 

3. Set Goals

Determine the area you want to focus on, where you want to be, and set a date you want to achieve it by. I’ve found it helps to have a journal or notebook to log your progress. Once you have that goal in mind, find out what in particular is hindering you from achieving it, then consistently work towards your goal.

4. Breathe & Balance

Breathe normally when stretching and only stretch to the point of mild discomfort. Don’t try to hold your breath or push yourself too aggressively. Always remember to balance your routine, working opposing muscle groups each time you stretch. Example: if you start by stretching the muscles in the back of your thigh, then follow by stretching the muscles at the front.

 

5. Think Positive

Not everyone is naturally flexible, think positive and be patient! Everyone’s body is different. Don’t compare yourself to others. It takes patience, persistence, and time to open our muscles, don’t be hard on yourself, you can’t do it all today but you can do it.

 

6. STRETCHES

OVERSPLITS

Over-splits can be useful for getting higher battements, improving your standing splits, improving splits in aerial skills, higher jumps and more! Start small, a step, a book, or yoga block. Place your forward foot onto it. Make sure your hips are squared (facing directly forward). If you cannot touch the ground let your hands go and raise them above your head if you are able. Let yourself sink down into the stretch as far as possible. If it hurts too badly stop! After you’ve accomplished that height, add another book and keep progressing as long as you’re comfortable!

 

BRIDGE

Bridges are a great way to increase back flexibility and build core muscles.

Start by lying on your back, bend your knees up and keep your feet flat on the ground, place your hands by your ears with palms facing the ground. Push your body up until only your hands and feet are touching the ground, and your back is arched. Once you’re up in a bridge, straighten your arms and legs and push your shoulders over your head. Your wrists to your shoulders should form a straight line to the floor. Keep your fingers and toes lined up with your body, not turned out. Keep your knees together.       Slowly lower your body back to the floor, tucking your chin toward your chest as you come down to relax your back. Once you’ve gotten your bridge, an elbow bridge can also help target shoulder flexibility even more as well as pushing forward and straightening your legs.

 

FEET

Maybe you weren’t born with gorgeous, overarched feet, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Strength and flexibility can improve with training, within the limits of your individual anatomy.

 

Strengthing

Hand towel, for scrunching toward you as you actively curl your toes. For a challenge, add weight, like a book, to the end of the towel.

Thera-Band, for slowly pointing and flexing in parallel. Then, sickle with a point, return to neutral and repeat; and wing (in both flexed and pointed positions), return to neutral and repeat.

Tennis ball, placed at or above the ankle bones, as you slowly relevé and lower in parallel.

Piano toes, From tendu second, flex the foot off the floor and articulate the toes into a pointe one at a time.

Sitting on the floor, place the foot you want to stretch over your other thigh to create a figure 4 with your legs. With the hand closest to your heel, push into your heel.  Be sure to relax your Achilles!  (the large band coming down from your calf that attaches to your heel) With the hand closest to your toes, place it over your toes and up your foot a couple inches and pull back so that your foot arches, feeling a nice stretch on the top.

For the top of your instep, standing in pointe shoes, cross one leg over and press the top of the foot into the floor. Plié to increase the stretch.

Grab a yoga block or foam roller, place the front of your foot on it and sit on your knees with your feet under your butt on your foam roller/yoga block. Stay there for about a minute to stretch your instep and increase your ankle flexibility.

Leave a comment with your stretching tips for a chance to win a Foam roller and $15 Gift Card. We will pick two winners by the end of August.
15 Comments
  1. katie_kubay says

    One of my tips is to find a stretching routine that suits you. Something that pushes you past your limits but you won’t pull a muscle or get injured.

    1. Discount Dance Supply says

      Congratulations! You are one of the lucky winners of our contest! Please email us by 9/1 at pr@discountdance.com to claim your prize!

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  2. smufu111 says

    One of my favorite stretches for splits/oversplit is to get into a lunge and prepare to start inching into the split. Slowly straighten both legs by inching your front leg out of the lunge. Keep doing this until you almost reach your split. Your back leg should be fully straight and your front leg should be slightly bent (keep your foot flat on the floor). This really stretches your hips and helps you ease into your split, and also prepares you for an oversplit.

  3. Corrina Cody says

    Wow this was really helpful! Thanks! I’ve been looking for stretches for my feet for quite sometime now!

  4. Corrina Cody says

    My favorite stretch is the butterfly!

  5. tanat says

    I’m not sure if I agree with oversplits. Instead I would suggest working on your splits and then turning out the back hip. Also if you’re not gaining much from stretching yourself you should try flexistretcher.

  6. Julia Boberg says

    Thank you so much for the stretching tips! Gaining strength and flexibility has been one of my goals for this summer so I’m excited to keep working on it with these exercises!

    1. Julia Boberg says

      One stretching tip I have is to remember to do the simple stretches alongside your oversplits. Sitting in a frog and pike position are great ways to increase flexibility in your hips and your hamstrings. 💕💕

      1. Discount Dance Supply says

        Congratulations! You are one of the lucky winners of our contest! Please email us by 9/1 at pr@discountdance.com to claim your prize!

        Thanks for participating!

  7. BrandyAnn says

    My girls love to stretch and do bridges! Becoming more flexible is a big goal of theirs.

  8. syd4403 says

    My favorite stretch to do is straddle with my stretchband! I have really tight hips so it helps so much to open them up before going into my middle splits. Being flexible is one of my goals as a young dancer and I hope that I can get to my goal soon my implementing the tips you guys have given me!

  9. dosovskaya says

    My favorite stretch has to be the straddle stretch. When you sit in the straddle and push yourself forward, you get a very deep stretch. When you bend forwards and sideways, you stretch your hamstrings, which really helps you sit down in your splits. If you haven’t tried this stretch already, I really recommend it!

  10. Dancealot1104 says

    My favorite stretches to do are the simple pike stretch, and the splits. I love doing these because these are the stretches that have helped me the most in ballet. With my always tight calves and ankles, these help to get me loosened up and to keep me dancing.

  11. emilypitts says

    I love to stretch using my theraband from discount dance! It really helps when I need a little extra push and resistance with my extensions and feet.

  12. dreat says

    My favoritie stretch is where you start off in a very wode second position then bend one knee and slide the other leg out to the side a little further so that you end up in a middle lunge lunge. I love this stretch because you can change the position slightly and get a completly different stretch and it is also not very intense so it is a nice stretch before class.

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