How to Safely Increase Flexibility
The über flexible dancer is on trend! Whether we see a dancer holding their splits between two chairs on Instagram, or another putting their leg unreasonably past their head on Tik Tok, we love to love it. Or should I say “heart it”. However, is this hyper mobility really what today’s dancer should be aiming towards? Is extreme flexibility where students and teachers alike, be setting their goals and expectations?
I think not. The truth is, every body is different and each comes with its own unique set of genetics. Some bodies can easily move through splits with ease while others fight through significant pain just to be able to straighten their leg. However, as we all know, dance is a visual expression of art and sport. We aim for esthetically pleasing lines that come from a certain amount of flexibility. I mean, I don’t know one dancer that doesn’t love to show off a beautiful leg extension!
So how do we increase our flexibility to our bodies' personal best? Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or secret stretch. It takes active and most importantly consistent work. Our muscle elasticity learns best through consistency rather than duration. Meaning, the more often you stretch trumps the length of time you stretch. Below are my go to tips for increasing your flexibility to your personal max range, in a safe way- believe me, you will thank me in your 30s ;) Happy stretching!
1- Create a short 5-10 min set of exercises that focus on where your body feels tight. Literally, it only needs to be just 5 min! (Make sure you are stretching muscles and not joints though)
2- Complete your set of exercises as often as possible- this could be every other day, or ideally a couple times a day. The more often the better.
3- Make sure your body is super warm before you do your set of exercises- as in, you have broken a sweat first!
4- Stick to it and work towards consistency. This is critical in reaching your goal. It won’t happen overnight, so keep your head down and stay focused!
Written by Megan Butler