The experienced dance teachers at jade Harrison School of Dance know and understand the importance of stretching and preparing the body for dancing. Here are some ways that learning to stretch properly and not over or under stretching can really support your dancing goals.
We all dream of having long, never-ending extensions. To développé our leg and have it reach the side of our head, or slide easily into the splits without a second thought. While having beautiful lines and flexible tricks is something we all aspire towards, the ability to emulate and create these shapes isn’t the same for everybody. Our genetic makeup determines how much flexibility we have, along with the types of exercises and stretches we are doing.
Improved Flexibility for Dance
Being aware of your individual determinants of flexibility, warm-ups and cool-downs, and the difference between safe stretching and over-stretching will all contribute towards improving your flexibility and range of motion. To help you decipher the difference between stretching and over-stretching we’ve outlined some points to consider below.
There are several factors that contribute to and determine an individual’s flexibility. These include:
- The length of the muscle - how far is the range of contraction, relaxation, and stretch of the muscle body.
- The connective tissue tension - our tendons can somewhat stretch but our fascia and ligaments cannot.
- The shape of the joint - the shape of our bones and how they fit together at the joint plays a large factor into how mobile and flexible we can be. This is determined by our anatomy and genetics.
- The nervous system response - includes the receptors in our joints, muscles, and tendons. They relay information about how much these tissues are stretching and how our body is reacting.
- Activity level - how much we use our muscles can influence their flexibility. Using them a lot can make them tight, particularly if there isn’t a lot of stretching and cooling down after using them.
- Age - our level of flexibility will diminish with age. As we age, our muscles and joints become stiffer and less flexible due to a loss of collagen. Having an inactive lifestyle and not stretching regularly throughout your life can also accelerate inflexibility.
- Gender - generally women tend to be more flexible than men. This is due to the structure and amount of connective tissue and elastin women have compared to men.
Stretching is a Good Skill to Learn
Stretching is one of the best ways to improve your flexibility and range of motion. It promotes circulation and keeps the joints and muscles flexible, allowing the body to remain supple and vibrant. If performed correctly, stretching is one of the simplest forms of body maintenance that almost anyone can do. It can improve your flexibility as well as your general range of motion. Stretching should always be done safely and within the muscles limitations. Take your time and ease into it. Remember, challenging the muscle is good but not to the point of pain!