With the hot summer sun comes warmer temperatures which creates the perfect scenario for maximizing your flexibility safely. It is important that you check with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine. The follow stretches are tried and true to help you increase flexibility that will push your dancing to new horizons.
A Simple Guide for Class
Warm Up: A proper warm up is key to helping blood flow to your muscles and provide the pliability needed to push and exceed your previous stretch capacity.
- Neck Rolls Roll your neck from side to side taking four slow counts in each direction. Repeat 10 times alternation each time.
- Jumping jacks and crunches are a great way to get the blood flowing. After a set of both, lie on your back and place your arms and legs in a "snow angel" position. Using your belly button as a center point, draw in your limbs until you are in a tight ball and then extend them back out to the "snow angel" position. Repeat 10 times.
- Ankle rolls & feet stretching Standing on one foot lift your opposite foot 45 degrees off the ground. Rotate your ankle to the left 8 times articulating the motion through a flexed to pointed foot each time. Reverse to the right 8 times. Repeat right, then left 4 times each side, then repeat right then left 2 times each side and alternate rotations right left right left to finish off the set. From there stand parallel as you hook one foot over the other and take a slight bend of the knee on your supporting side to feel a stretch through the top of your metatarsal joint.
The Burn: Now that you are warmed up, it's time to push the envelope. Try these stretches to increase the flexibility in your hamstrings, calves, and turn out muscles.
- Doorway Stretch - Standing in a doorway place your back foot on the frame and push against the opposite jamb into your split. Hold for thirty seconds. Do not bounce this stretch. Keep things even and also perform the stretch on the opposite leg.
- Frog Stretch – There is nothing better for your turn out than the classic frog stretch. Lay on your stomach and put your legs in a grande plié position. Pull your toes up to the ceiling and push your heels into the ground. As you progress this stretch you can pull your feet closer into your groin. If you have that stretch down, take it to a second position grande plié.
- Hamstring & Swan Stretch – Sitting in a lunge with your front thigh parallel to the ground, push your hips deep into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before releasing back, sitting on your supporting leg keeping your front leg stretched, pointed, and turned out in front of you. Bring your belly button to your leg keeping a flat back as you sit in this swan position, holding for an additional 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Cool Down: After a good stretch its important to stretch lightly so that your muscles can more naturally return to and maintain their new flexibility.
- Criss Cross Stretch – sitting with your legs crossed, pull the leg on top behind and to the side of yourself. Now gently lean forward with a flat back. This should pull slightly in your behind. Switch legs and repeat. Holding always for 30 seconds or longer and not bouncing.
- Up and Over - Standing in a ballet first position, simply reach over head and flat back all the way forward until you drop your head and are looking at your legs. Fold your arms above your head utilizing the weight of your head and arms to gain a deep, yet restricted stretch. Sit forward on your seat and rock back into your seat to feel the stretch differently.
A Few Good Partner Stretches
Feet - Partner one grabs with both hands partner two’s foot. Pulling away from partner two’s hip and pushing toes into the ground a nicely pointed foot is achieved. Hold for 10 seconds, making sure partner two’s knee is stretched. Flex partners foot and shake out for 10 seconds before repeating entirely three times on each foot.
Hamstrings – Partner one lays on the ground while partner two stands over partner one. Partner one puts one leg up in the air, turned out, straight and pointed, while opposite leg is on the ground in the same position. Partner two pushes partner two’s leg toward their body on the ground while partner one resists for 10 seconds. At the end of that time both partners release and partner two’s hip relaxes into a deeper stretch. Repeat at least three times each leg.
Tools for Stretching
Lumbar Extender Back Stretcher: This back stretcher is easy to use and store. You simply lay on the support and litterly relax there. There are three levels to build and adjust to.
Pro-Arch Foot Stretcher: This machine stretches and strengthens for pointe work. There are once again three levels of spring resistance.
I-Flex Jr. Stretch Unit: To increase leg extensions try the I-flex. It hooks into the ceiling and allows you to control the pull while mainting proper alignment.