We’ve all seen those dancers whose leaps are #goals. With hard work and dedication, though, and dancer can get there! Here are just a few tips to follow in order to improve overall flexibility. Share these with your dancers to ensure that their stretching is both effective and safe!
Give Yourself Time
In order for your stretching to be the most effective, you have to set a realistic goal and set aside time each and every day to work toward it. Rather than trying to perfect your leaps in one afternoon, give yourself a few months of stretching 20-30 minutes every day. This way you won’t risk over-stretching and setting yourself even farther back! You might feel impatient at times, but we *promise* that small increments of stretching is much more effective than one large stretch-sesh!
You never want to stretch when your muscles are cold. In other words, don’t stretch right when you wake up. Instead, do some plies or jumping jacks, or even take a walk outside until your muscles have warmed up. If you take the time to warm up your muscles first, your stretches will be much more effective and you will decrease your risk of pulling a muscle and having to skip a few days of stretching.
Start Small, Go Big
After warming up, don’t go right into the most difficult stretches. Instead, start by stretching your essential muscles and working into the more difficult stretches. Similarly, you’ll want to increase the difficulty of your stretches each time you stretch. You should always be slightly challenging yourself every time you stretch (without over-exerting your muscles).
Make it Fun
Dying to watch your favorite show on Netflix? Treat yourself and watch an episode to time out your daily stretch – it’s hard work & a reward all in one! Not in the mood for TV? Turn on your favorite Pandora station and listen to music while stretching! Our favorite tip to make stretching fun? Start a stretch jar and put a dollar in every time you stretch. Stretch every day for two months and you’ve got yourself $60 to splurge on some new dancewear to show off your new flexibility!
Find Yourself a Stretch Routine
Even if you find the time to stretch, it’s not always easy to know where to begin! We recommend just searching YouTube! So many dancers post their daily stretch routines you can follow along to. Be sure to search for stretches based on your level of flexibility. If you’re just starting out, be sure to look for beginning stretches so you don’t overwork your muscles. If you’re a more experienced stretcher – search for videos that are targeted to those who are already somewhat flexible. If you don’t find yourself at least slightly challenged during the routine – you probably need to find more difficult stretches! The best part of finding stretches on YouTube? The comment section! Here you can see what other dancers are recommending and even recommend some advice of your own!
While you might find yourself tempted to stretch a lot in one day, this can actually damage your muscles and set you back. Like many things that take time, you might feel slightly discouraged when you don’t notice and immediate change. So, in order to keep yourself motivated, take daily pictures or videos each time you stretch so that ever week or two, you can compare your progress. Plus, it’ll make an amazing before and after when you finally reach your #goals!