Stretching For Beginners

The most common question i get asked as a dance teacher is ‘how can i improve my flexibility?’
So here are my top 10 tips for stretching at home. 🙂

1) Basics Are Best
Forget fancy complex stretches to start with, you won’t remember them and 9 times out of 10 they’re less effective than the basics.

2) Pain is your friend
Push the stretch until it starts to hurts. There is NO point stretching a muscle if you can’t feel it being stretched. – This is also how you know it’s working.
Quick point I should make is that stretching pain is not a burning horrible pain. It’s a nice pain ….as weird as that sounds.

3) Flat Back
When people stretch you see a lot of arched backs and curved spines, as they try to get their nose to their knee etc. You will achieve a far superior and more intense stretch by keeping your back straight/flat.
4) Warm Up
The worst thing you can do is stretch when you’re not warm. This is where most people go wrong and get injured. ALWAYS WARM UP! Even if its just having a hot bath before hand. Your muscles need to be warm to be able to stretch effectively. Plus stretching at the end of a class will mean you wont ache tomorrow!

5) Water
Water is so important for a healthy body. It keeps your joints lubricated and improves muscle tone. When you stretch and exercise you are breaking down impurities, you need to drink plenty to flush them out. You need to keep hydrated!

6) Strength
The worst thing people can do is just focus on becoming really flexible. This will NOT make you a great dancer. You need to be able to control it. There’s no point being able to kick your leg above your head if you cant hold it there. Add body conditioning, strength work and weight training to your weekly workouts, to make the most of your new found flexibility.  7) Push it
Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. So push it! Complete your full sets you can do it !

8) Hold It
Its all well and good being in the right position with a flat back and feeling the stretch but you must hold it for at least 20 seconds.

9) Make It Routine
Stretching once in a blue moon won’t improve your flexibility. You need to make it routine. Even if it’s just 5 min a day. Little and often is better than 2 hours once a month.

10) Make it personal.
Everyone has their own limits. Don’t compare yourself to others. Set your own goals and do it for yourself not other people. Flexibility isn’t an instant thing, it takes time but stick with it and you will get there!

I hope this helps.
As always -any persistent, burning or stabbing pain always go check with your GP before continuing to dance.

Love
Up In Lights Dance Academy
http://www.uilda.co.uk

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