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Guest Blog: Increase Your Dancer's Flexibility With These 4 Stretches

Posted by Guest Blogger Katie Groven on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

Flexibility is a fundamental skill for dancers and athletes. The ability to move your body freely will make the execution of skills and exercise much easier. Many dancers struggle with flexibility in their hamstrings and hips, but what they don’t know is that tightness in their hamstrings is directly related to a tight back and tight glutes (buttock region).

These four moves are going to pay special attention to hips, back, glutes, and hamstrings. Put all four moves together to increase your dance flexibility for a lower split, longer extensions, and more open hips. 

When doing the below stretches, avoid sharp movements and “bouncing.” All stretches are performed with deep breaths and smooth transitions between sides. If you need more activation, ask a teacher or friend to gently press on the working leg. Always stop if you feel pinching or popping in your muscles or joints!

 

Figure 4 Stretch

Figure 4 Stretch from Dancer Fitness Guest Blog

To increase flexibility in your hamstrings you need to allow the muscles in your glutes to relax. A Figure 4 stretch is the best way to relax important muscles like the piriformis, which can become strained and lead to sciatic pain. A common complaint of dancers is a pinching, numbness, or pain down the back of their legs.  If you’ve ever experienced this you could be experiencing sciatic pain.

  • Sit up tall on your sits bones.
  • Cross your left leg over your right knee, centering your ankle bone on the right knee.
  • Press your chest toward your legs and fold yourself in half. As if you're between two walls.
  • Keep you belly tight and shoulders down.
  • Hold for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 

Runner Lunge 

Runner Lunge Dancer Fitness Guest Blog

A simple runners lunge is the most effective way to increase flexibility in the hips and hamstrings. This stretch can also relieve any tightness in the back or pain you could be experiencing.

  • Come to your hands and knees.
  • Extend your right foot between your hands and then slide it slightly in front of your hands.
  • Shift your body forward until your right leg is in a 90-degree angle.
  • Be sure your right knee does not go past your right ankle or toes.
  • Keep hands flat on the floor or make them into fists if your wrists get tired.
  • Hold for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 

Spinal Twist

Spinal Twist Dancer Fitness Guest Blog

Increasing flexibility in your lower back is going to decrease pain, increase hamstring flexibility, and allow your hips to move freely. A spinal twist increases back flexibility and is also great for relaxation. Feel free to take this stretch to the floor when you need a relaxing cool-down.

  • Sit with your legs extended forward.
  • Fold your left leg, and then cross your right foot over your left thigh.
  • Wrap your arms around the bent right knee.
  • When you exhale, twist your torso to the right and place your right hand next to your right hip to hold the stretch.
  • Allow your head to follow your body to the right.
  • Hold for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 

Lying Hamstring Stretch

Lying Hamstring Stretch Dancer Fitness Guest Blog

Tight hips are a common dancer complaint, and can interfere with hamstring flexibility. Laying hamstring stretches will allow the hips to relax and help increase flexibility in the hamstring. As a bonus, add this stretch to the end of rehearsal for a cool-down to decrease soreness.

  • Lie on your back and pull one leg toward your chest.
  • Lace your fingers around your calf muscle allowing your knee to be slightly bent
  • Extend the other leg straight, keeping it engaged.
  • Use your arms; gently pull the gripped leg toward your chest and AT THE SAME TIME driving the same leg’s heel toward the floor.
  • Press into your hands as if you’re trying to break the grip of your fingers around your leg.
  • Press and pull for 5 seconds.
  • Gently release, straighten the top leg and pull gently toward your shoulder, not your nose
  • Repeat 5 times on each leg


 

Author: Katie groven

Katie Groven is an ACSM certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and two time world champion dancer. She is the creator of dancer-fitness.com  an online exercise database designed to transform competitive dancers into athletic powerhouses. she has combined her 25 years of dance and her expertise in fitness to empower dancers of all ages to view themselves as athletes and gives them the tools to increase their strength, endurance, injury prevention, and overall performance. Katie travels the country cross training teams and studios including Larkin Dance Studio, home to World of Dance finalists Eva Igo, Ellie and Ava Wagner and The Trilogy. When she’s not training individual dancers or teams she’s spending quality time with her husband Chris, 1 year old daughter Hazel or growing her collection of Converse shoes.

 Email: katie@dancer-fitness.com

 Instagram: @Dancer-Fitness.Com_

 Facebook: @dancerfitnesssocial

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