Being flexible offers tons of benefits including a wider range of motion, improved circulation, better posture, less stress and injury prevention. Fortunately for a lot of dancers, flexibility isn’t really an issue. After all, when you dance on a regular basis, being flexible becomes a side-effect.
But what happens when you stop dancing?
Whether you’ve just stopped dancing for the summer off-season or you’ve graduated from your dance studio, it can be difficult to maintain your flexibility. We’re sure you’ve heard the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Well, it definitely applies when it comes to flexibility!
So, what can you do to maintain your flexibility after you’ve stopped dancing? Stretch – a lot! There are tons of stretches you can do, including butterfly stretches, deep lunges, toe touches, splits and more. Here’s what to do to get the most out of your stretches…
- Warm up: We can’t stress enough how important it is to warm up before stretching! Why? Warming up your body beforehand will help prevent injuries, plus it will allow you to get deeper into your stretches.
- Don’t overdo it: Let’s face it… you’re probably not as flexible now as you were when you were younger. As you get older, flexibility becomes more difficult to maintain. It’s important to remember not to push yourself too far when you’re stretching – your body won’t bounce back the way it used to!
- Hold your stretch: If you really want to improve your flexibility, you’re going to have to hold your stretches for a solid amount of time. You can’t expect to be more flexible after holding a stretch for 15 seconds. Don’t think you have to hold your stretches for 10 minutes at a time either. Instead, we suggest aiming to hold your stretches for anywhere between one and three minutes.
- Add movements to your stretches: While static stretches are great, we find it’s easier to hold a stretch when there is some subtle movement involved. For example, instead of just sitting in your middle splits, you could add a sideways arm stretch into the mix.
- Focus on your weaknesses: Are you more flexible on your right side? Try doing your left splits first. It’s natural to want to favour stretches that you are more comfortable doing. We recommend focusing on your weak side in an effort to keep both sides of your body even and to increase your possibilities for improvement.
What are your favourite ways to get the most out of your stretches? Let us know in the comments section below!