Even though we can’t physically be in the studio, we hope all of our students are continuing to practice their dance techniques at home. As a matter of fact, it’s very important to keep a routine and incorporate healthy activities that will keep your body moving and spirits high! We know dance can do that!
Today, we have a little tip for all of our students, whether long-time dancers or those just starting out: Try to plan for a few minutes before and after your dance practicing or virtual dance lesson. Why? So you can start and finish your dance lesson session in a healthy way; with stretching!
Stretching is an important way to make strides as a dancer. Stretching increases flexibility, lengthens muscles and helps you focus on what your body is undergoing and how it works and will work during your dance class or performance. Warming up gets your body ready for vigorous and dynamic dancing ahead.
A proper stretching regimen focuses on more than just the legs. Your Fred Astaire Dance Studios instructor can tell you more, but you certainly know that it is not just about the legs. Being limber means your back will bend more easily, your arms and shoulders will be more relaxed and your general physical condition on the dance floor will be one of comfort.
Here are a few tips on how to stretch without injuring yourself:
- Don’t do static stretching early in the morning: Make sure you don’t jump out of bed and try to do a split! Your muscles elasticity is extremely low in the morning, shocking them with stretching will lead to injury. Go easy and try dynamic stretches instead and leave static stretches for the afternoon and evening.
- Stretch in a room that is above 65 Degrees: Avoid cold rooms as the chilly temperature will decrease your range of motion and flexibility.
- Avoid using static stretching as your warm-up: Always be sure you are warmed up before you do static stretching. If you are cold, the strain on your muscles can lead to injury. You can warm up with light dynamic stretching.
- Don’t force the stretch: Stretching can be frustrating, so don’t give up! Keep at it, and keep stretching even when you feel your muscles don’t feel like it, but avoid forcing yourself to stretch beyond where it is comfortable! So stretch those arms as well. And your neck. Feet and ankles, too. And don’t just save the stretches for dance sessions – do them to relieve muscular tightness and stress. The body tenses up quite a bit when it is in a seated position most of the day. If you work behind a desk, or focus mostly on your computer, your hips, shoulders and neck can tighten up. A good stretch will allow more blood to flow to those muscles.
There’s lots of available information on the importance of warm-ups and cool-downs. Dance Magazine shares warm-up tips that will help get you ready for your dance lesson by raising your pulse rate (for more pliable and elastic body tissue, mobilizing your joints and lengthening your muscles – read more here. And we also like this article about cool-downs published on HumanKinetics.com. While they (cool-downs) are less popular and practiced than warm-ups, the article discusses their importance not only for reducing muscle soreness, but also to help promote beneficial outcomes for subsequent power activities after the dance lesson is complete.