10 Top Stretches and Exercises to Improve Dance Flexibility
Flexibility is an important part of dance. Dance flexibility can take up to 6 months or a year of constant discipline depending on the age of the dancer. It can be frustrating for dancers who expect to see results right away.
Here are a few stretches and exercises to improve dance flexibility for young dancers.
1. Standing Hamstring Stretch
This stretch is great for the neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Start off standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and rest your arms by your side.
Exhale as you bend forward from the hips and lower your head to the floor. Try to keep your head, shoulders and neck relaxed as you do this stretch.
Wrap your arms around the back of your legs and hold. Experts suggest that you hold a stretch for 10 seconds to 3 minutes. If you go into a stretch and feel as if you immediately want to release it is a sign that you need to spend more time stretching this area as part of your dancer workout plan.
When you are done holding your stretch bend at the knees and roll your way back up to a standing position.
2. Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis muscle is located outside the butt. It is a deep internal hip rotator. Your deep internal rotators produce a lot of movement at your hips and stretching these muscles should be apart of your daily ballet workout.
Sit on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you. Cross your left leg over your right and place your left foot flat on the floor beside you. Then place your left hand on the floor behind your body.
Put your right hand on your quad or bring your elbow to your knee and press your left leg to the right. You should feel a twist in your body when you are performing the stretch correctly.
3. Lunge With Spinal Twist
This stretch helps open up your hips and improves mid-back mobility, which is a necessary part of ballet turns.
Start with your feet together and take a big step forward with your left foot. Now your feet should be in a staggered stance. Bend your left knee as if you are lunging. Keep your right leg straight behind you.
Your toes should point downward to the ground. You will feel a stretch in your right thigh. Now place your right hand on the floor beside you and twist your upper body to the left. Reach your left arm up toward the ceiling and stretch as if you are trying to touch the ceiling.
Hold the stretch and then repeat on the other side.
4. Tricep Stretch
An area of deep stretching often overlooked by dancers is the arms. Most dancers focus on the legs but you will also need flexibility in the arms to complete many ballet positions.
For a tricep stretch stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms up over your head. Bend your right elbow and reach your hand behind your head to touch the top middle of your back.
You can gently pull your elbow toward your head yo get a deeper stretch. You should feel the stretch in your neck, shoulders, back, and triceps. When you are done holding the stretch repeat on the other side.
5. 90/90 Stretch
This is another great stretch for dancers because it hits both hips at the same time. Sit with your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle out in front of your body. Keep your foot flexed and your sole should be facing the left.
Let your leg rest flat on the floor as you place your left knee to the left of your body. Bend the knee so that the foot faces behind you. Be sure to keep this foot flexed too.
Try your best to keep your right glute on the floor and move the left glute as close to the floor as possible. This may not be possible if you have been dancing a lot and are super tight in your glutes or hips.
Hold the stretch and repeat on the other side.
6. Frog Stretch
Another one of our dance tips for flexibility is to not sit crossed legged. Crossing your legs can lead to tight hips. Here is a stretch you can do if you do happen to sit cross-legged a lot.
Get down on all fours and slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart behind you. Turn your toes out and rest the edge of your inner thigh on the floor. Shift your hips back toward your heels and keep your feet flat on the floor.
If you can move from your hands to your forearms for a deeper stretch.
7. Butterfly Stretch
This simple stretch helps the hips, glutes, back, and thighs. Sit on the floor with your back tall and your soles together. Bend your knees out to the side.
Hold your ankles or your feet, engage your abs, and slowly lower your upper body toward your feet as low as you can go while at the same time pressing your knees down into the floor.
8. Shoulder Squeeze
This stretch relieves poor posture and releases tension in the back. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Clasp your hands together behind your lower back and straighten and extend your arms.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together for a few seconds and then release. Repeat this stretch for 5 to 10 times.
9. Side Bend
This easy stretch keeps the groin, and hips inner thighs flexible. Kneel on the floor with your legs together. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Extend your left leg out beside you.
The reach your right arm up and rest your left arm on your left leg. Gently bend at the torso and right arm to the left side of your body. Try to keep your hips facing forward as you hold the stretch. Then repeat on the other side.
10. Neck Stretch
Most dancers forget to stretch their necks. A good neck stretch can positively impact the rest of your body.
Drop your right ear down to your right shoulder. Press down on your head to deepen the stretch and hold. When you are done, complete the stretch on the other side.
Keep Working on Your Dance Flexibility
No one has ever become flexible overnight. Stretching should be apart of your daily routine as a dancer. Just keep at it and you’ll start to see a noticeable difference.
Stelle is a dance label created by a mother of three girls who love to dance. Our blog is full of great content like this article on how to help your budding ballerina do a proper plie squat.