Dancers should know how to stretch to maintain the high levels of flexibility that they need. Stretching properly also helps dancers and other athletes maintain and increase physical strength and endurance over time. Here are some good stretches for dancing.
How Stretches Benefit Dancers
Stretching has a number of benefits for dancers and other athletes. Stretching helps keep muscles long and supple, while exercise gives them additional strength. Stretching relieves muscle tension and discourages the build up of lactic acid in the muscles, which reduces post workout muscle soreness. Stretching properly before and after a dance workout helps to prevent injury, by making the muscles more pliable.
Seated Forward Bend and Other Seated Stretches
Seated stretches act on the muscles of the back as well as the hamstrings and calves. They can even help to relieve muscle tension in the feet.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your feet flexed so that the toes point upright. Place your palms flat on the floor on either side of the hips. Point your toes away from you and hold the position for five to ten breaths. Then, flex your feet so that the toes point toward the ceiling and spread the toes, for a stretch in the soles and balls of the feet. Hold this position for five to ten breaths.
Lift your arms straight up in the air, inhale deeply, and exhale while bending forward. Bend from the hips and don't allow your spine to curve as you bend. If you can't accomplish this, bend your knees to allow your spine to remain straight, or use a scarf or belt to catch the feet and pull them back towards you while sitting upright.
Cross your legs, placing one ankle in front of the other. Lean forward as far as you can without lifting your hips from the floor. Place your palms or forearms on the floor and breathe into the hips. Lean forward and place your forehead on the floor if you can do so comfortably. Hold this position for ten to fifteen breaths, then switch legs so that your other ankle is on the outside and repeat.
Standing stretches can work on the muscles of the legs, abdomen, back and upper body.
Stand upright with your feet together. Raise your arms over your head and clasp the left wrist with your right hand. Lean to the right, allowing your hips to move to the left so that your entire body creates a half moon shape. Gently pull on the left arm to intensify the stretch. This stretch acts on the muscles of your entire torso, and should be held for at least 20 seconds and repeated on both sides.
You can stretch your legs and strengthen your core muscles with a half forward bend. Stand upright and raise your arms. Then lean forward until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat, and then allow your torso to drop forward into a standing forward bend.