Dancers are often known for their flexibility and ability to move in ways most cannot. Here are the top 3 things I hear from my patients all the time about their flexibility and this is how I answer!
- “But I’m just not a flexible person”
While some people do have a seemingly natural gift of flexibility, this does not mean that if you have not been flexible in the past you can’t start now. So much of the tension in our bodies is due to how we hold ourselves throughout the day- not just in dance class! One of the most important things you can do is watch how you are positioned throughout your day and note which muscles seem to be holding tension- this is key to unlocking your mobility! Most often we hold tension through our upper back and hips- both will limit our ability to move into positions such as the splits. Don’t count yourself out yet! Everyone can get more flexible its just about learning about your body, learning about you and how your body wants to move.
- “Stretching doesn’t work”
There is “stretching” and then there is “stretching”. Putting your muscle into a strong static stretch and holding it for a few seconds will not make you more flexible no matter how hard you try. There are several different methods of stretching that I like to term “mobility exercises”. Using a foam roller, tennis ball, golf ball are all excellent ways to increase your mobility without ever having to get into a classic “stretch” position. You can make a huge improvement in your flexibility by stretching, just not the way you conventionally think of it!
- “I always sit and stretch before dancing, that’s good, right?”
Did you know that sitting in stretches for longer than 30 seconds will actually decrease the muscles ability to generate power (strength) for about a half hour afterwards? I see dancers sitting in stretches constantly before class while waiting to start and it will only decrease their ability to perform at their best during class. Instead, try a warm-up with filled with cardiovascular exercises, dynamic stretches and neuromuscular activation. The long- slow stretches should always be kept for after class!
If you have flexibility or mobility issues that are keeping you from reaching your goals contact me at the clinic so that we can have you reaching for the stars in no time!
Prepared by: Emma Jack, BSc(HKin), MSc(PT), Sport Diploma
3-655 Fanshawe Park Road West, London, ON