For Dancers

Stop Stretching?

3:55 PM

You've just finished a nice long barre, your legs are screaming at you. You haul your leg up onto the barre for a nice stretch, slide into your splits on the ground, and spend the next 10 minutes stretching before you come center.

Congrats, you've just sabotaged the rest of your class. 

stretching, dance, ballet

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I can't tell you how often I see dancers stretching between every exercise. This is something I did as a student, and something I catch my students doing as well. It's a normal reaction to having a muscle screaming at you. Unfortunately, it's not helping your strength, stamina, and elasticity in the long run.

I want to address something - a gentle stretch in between exercises like a light calf stretch or shaking out a leg is not what I'm talking about.

I'm referring to doing a nice long adagio at the barre, and then doing splits or a heel stretch before the second half of your class.

See, while muscles are like rubber bands, they are more complicated than that. When you stretch a rubber band and let go, it bounces back. That's called elasticity.

But when you stretch a muscle with a deep intense stretch like a split or a heel stretch, or hold a static stretch for any time, it can take up to 30 minutes for it to completely go back to it's neutral position. So for the 30 minutes after your stretch, your muscles are not as springy and not as elastic as they would be had you waited to stretch until the end of class.

Photo credit: MsMimiSmeeks on VisualHunt / CC BY

I'm not saying you shouldn't stretch! It's so important. But what I am saying is... we need to re-think at what point we do our deep stretches in dance class.

I've talked about static vs resistance vs dynamic stretches before (specifically in my guest post with Zarely) and I'm hosting a safe stretching webinar this upcoming week at my member's only page. I hope you come by and learn more about stretching methods!

I've also recently posted this stretch series I use at the end of my classes or after a nice workout here on YouTube for free! I hope you enjoy.

Stay safe, and happy dancing!!!

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