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8 Best Stretches That Improve Dancers' Flexibility

Oct 10, 2017

Stretching is important, both before and after your workout. More so if you’re a dancer, because stretching not only helps loosen your muscles and relax them after an intense workout, but they also help in giving improved flexibility for dancers.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that building your body’s strength and stretching go hand in hand. Reaching one’s maximum flexibility is not something the average dancer achieves, but the ones that do will tell you how much those small little stretching exercises made them a better dancer!

The Best Flexibility Stretches for Dancers

Before we begin, please know that not everyone’s body is the same. Just because you’re a dancer (especially a new one) doesn’t automatically mean your body’s extremely flexible. If at any point you feel you are at your limits, or your muscles hurt because of pain (the bad kind, not the good kind), then stop immediately. Modify your routine, do lesser number of sets or completely give up on those stretches. You can even consult your trainer or doctor, who can guide you accordingly. Listening to your body is the best gift you can give to it.

1.      Title Aasan or Butterfly Stretch

This exercise focuses on your hip adductors, which lie in your inner thighs. Here, try to bring your heels as close to your pubic area as possible. The closer they are, the better your stretch will be. If you have any injury in your legs, thigh or feet, or if you are pregnant, then avoid this pose.

Do 5 sets with 50 reps in each set.

2.      Standing Thigh Release

This exercise is great for your quads, glutes, hop flexors and back.

Stand with your back completely straight with your arms by your sides. Gently lift your thigh, bringing your left heel as close to your butt as possible. Hold the top of our foot with your left hand. Stretch your right hand forward to balance your body, and try to hold this pose for as long as you can. Begin with 15 seconds, and go as high as 1 minute holds. Repeat on the other side.

Do 5 sets with 10 reps in each set.

3.      The Swan Stretch

For detailed direction on how to perform it, check this video: 

This is a very popular yoga that is not only one of the best flexibility stretches for dancers,but it also helps strengthen your back (with regular practice, of course). Breathing is important in this stretch. When going up, breathe in slowly. When going down, breathe out gently. Do not perform this stretch in jerks or sudden motions. This posture helps relieve pressure on your spinal column, as well as the nerves that run through it. Your spinal disks are no longer compressed, and your nerves feel a lot less pressure on them.

Do 8 sets with 3 reps in each set.

4.      Shoulder and Arm Stretch

Most people only focus on the lower body when it comes to stretches, but let’s be honest – the upper body is just as important, if not more, for a dancer.

Stand or sit with your back straight. Interlock your fingers, and with your palms faced outward, stretch your hands as far away from your chest as you can. You should feel a pull in your triceps and shoulders. Hold that position for 15 seconds, and then slowly raise your hands above your head, with your palms facing the ceiling. Hold again for 15 seconds, and relax.

Do 5 sets with 5 reps in each set.

5.      Ceiling Touch

Sit down on the floor with your feet stretched in front of you. Now raise your left arm towards the ceiling, with your palm facing the ceiling. Push your palm as hard as you can upwards for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the other side. As a finishing touch, interlock your fingers and push both your palms upwards towards the ceiling, holding them right above your head. You can perform this while sitting or standing, but it’s always advised to do so if you’re sitting, especially if you have a back problem.

Do 5 sets with 5 reps each.

6.      Reclining Pigeon

This is another one of those flexibility stretches for dancers that is excellent for your lower body. It works on your lower back, hamstrings and even hip muscles. Plus, the closer your knees are to your chest, the better stretch you’ll get. If you’re interested in knowing more benefits of this stretch, here they are:

  • Releases lower body tension.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Improves blood flow to the pelvis.
  • Opens the hips.
  • Stretches lower back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings.
  • Relieves sciatica or piriformis issues.

Do 5 sets with 5 reps in each set.

7.      Advanced Bridge

If you want to strengthen your back, then bridge stretches are the way to go. Apart from making your spinal muscles stronger, it is an excellent stretch for your entire body because it works on pretty much every major muscle group that you have. If you feel the advanced bridge is too much for you, no worries. Start small with the simple bridge exercise.

Don't worry if you don’t immediately get the hang of it or feel it’s not ‘effective’ enough. These stretches take time to show improvement in your body, including your level of flexibility. Try holding your body for 10 seconds, and bring that number up to 60 when you’re really comfortable in that posture.

Do 7 sets with 4 reps each.

8.      Fold-Over Stretch

When it comes to flexibility stretches for dancers, nothing beats the fold over stretch for a full body stretch! Apart from that, it also:

  • Improves your blood circulation, especially to important organs.
  • Soothes your nervous system and relieves pressure from said nerves.
  • Tones your internal organs.

Do 5 sets with 10 reps in each set.

 

If you’re interested in more flexibility stretches for dancers, then have a look at this video: