Dancing is expressive and fun, but it’s also exercise and a great way to work your body. And, as with any type of exercise, stretching keeps joints loose, muscles supple and helps banish any aches and pains.
There are many different types of stretches. They can almost be a workout by themselves, but they are also terrific as a cool-down after a good dance practice.
Ballistic stretches involve repetitive bouncing, or using the swinging momentum of the trunk or a limb to create the force in the stretch. The end position of the stretch is not maintained. Ballistic stretches are great to start with, as they will add to flexibility. But it is easy to overextend oneself in doing these stretches, so care is called for.
A dynamic stretch is a controlled stretching exercise built upon dance-specific movements to prepare your body for dance activity. These stretches emphasize the movement requirements of rehearsals, classes and performances.
There are also static stretches and prolonged stretches – those are probably the types most people think about where there’s a long reach and a grip around the ankle or calf to maximize muscle length and end tightness. These can also have their place in your fitness routine and your dance routine.
Talk to your Fred Astaire Dance Studio instructor about the value of stretching and the best types of stretches for you.