Stretching is key to improving your ability as a dancer. Stretching has many benefits including flexibility, stronger technique, improved lines and range of motion, muscle awareness and injury prevention. Stretching is just as important as daily exercise for all ages. It helps blood flow to the muscles and cartilage and helps to relax us. Stretching creates long lean muscles required for dancers and athletes. Stretching helps muscles to be more pliable.
The build up of stress makes our muscles contract. This stress makes us feel tension not only to our bodies but also to our minds. Stretching eases this stress and helps us to relax. It also releases endorphins, so we feel good.
Stretching helps to correct our posture by lengthening tight muscles. Stress strains our muscles and pulls them into directions they shouldn’t be, stretching encourages muscles into their correct alignment. This helps to relieve aching pains. Tight muscles can make us feel lethargic.
Stretching will give us improved energy by increasing the blood flow through our body.
The most obvious benefit of stretching is improved flexibility. For dancers this is particularly important and helps us improve our kicks, splits, arabesques, leaps, turn out and more. Stretching is particularly beneficial for many jazz dance and ballet exercises. Without stretching it is often hard to accomplish many of the exercises in these genres of dance.
Stretching can delay fatigue to muscles by the improved blood flow through muscles. This helps with improving endurance. Stretching improves athletic performance. Muscles that haven’t stretched will be less effective during exercise. Regular stretching will relax your muscles and therefore help them perform better when required.
Stretching before and after exercise will help muscles relax. This reduces soreness in muscles. Stretching along with a healthy diet reduces cholesterol in the body. This can reduce and even reverse the hardening of arteries associated with heart disease.
Stretching can help to improve co-ordination. Stretching helps dancers awareness of their bodies and helps them to be in-tune with their bodies. They can identify their limitations and set goals on where to improve. By working on lengthening muscles dancers can improve their posture and turnout and maintain correct alignment within their bodies.Stretching can
maximise the body and help dancers achieve improved results for all of their dancing.
How can I improve my stretching?
Drop off your child 10 minutes early to class and pick them up 10 minutes later (unless it’s the last class before the studio closes for the evening). Get them to use this time to stretch and practice their steps and routines. They will see improvement in their dancing.
Set stretching goals and work on them for 6 weeks both in class and at home. Take a before and after photo. Stretch while reading a book or watching your favourite TV show. This will help make you to stretch regularly, by making it part of your routine. Every time your favourite TV show is on, you will know its time to stretch.
It is important to stretch all of your body. This includes back, arms, legs, feet, neck and core. Stretching is not only important for dancers and athletes but also their parents. Incorporate a stretch routine into your morning or afternoon and feel the difference in your body and mind.