Photo by: Yasmeen Shanata
Being dancers we must be strong and flexible. It is crucial when dancing and is something that you must do in order to perform well. There are certain leg stretches that I do to improve my flexibility and I do these stretches twice a day.
Stretch 1: The Front Lunge
This is the stretch that I normally start off with. This stretch focuses on your hamstring and hip flexibility. Start by standing straight and then extend your left leg back keeping the weight on the ball of your foot. Keeping your left leg there put your right leg in front of you creating the lunge position. Your right knee should be right above your toes. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch to the other leg. Do at least five repetitions for each leg, but remember don’t push yourself to discomfort. Stretching is supposed to feel good, not painful.
Stretch 2: The Pike
This is a great stretch to follow the front lunge. This stretch targets your hamstrings. You sit on the floor with both your legs in front of you. Alternate your feet flex and pointed. Once you do that reach with your arms and try to touch your feet. Once you stretch forward and grab your feet hold the stretch for 20 seconds. After the 20 seconds return back to normal sitting position. You want to alternate flex and pointe feet and also want to do this at least 5 times. Once again don’t push yourself to discomfort. As dancers we need to listen to our bodies and ale care of it. Everyone is different as well so just focus on what you can do and what is best for you.
Stretch 3: Butterfly Stretch
This stretch targets your inner thighs and this is a very important in having good flexibility. To do this stretch you must sit on the floor with your legs bent outwards and the soles of your feet are touching each other. Sit up a straight as you can and without using your arms push your knees to the ground. You want to gradually push your knees closer to the ground each time you repeat the exercise. You want to hold this stretch for 15 seconds and then release. You want to repeat this exercise five times. Once you do this stretch for sometime, you may be able to touch your noise to your toes. If you can do it then apply that part to the stretch, and if you can then you have something to work for! Make sure to rest after each rep and do not force your knees down to the ground by your hands because that can lead to injuries.
Stretch 4: Straddle (Splits)
This stretch targets your inner thighs as well as your hamstrings. Remain seated for this stretch and make sure you are sitting up straight. Point each leg diagonally so you can be in the straddle position. Try to keep your legs as wide as possible, but again don’t push yourself to where you feel discomfort. Keep your knees upward and with both of your hands reach towards one leg. After touching both feet, reach out in front and try to bring your body close to the ground. Remember while doing any stretch you need to keep a regular tempo-breathing pattern, and do not over stretch.
Stretch 5: Wall Straddle
You lie on your back for this stretch and you basically do the same stretch as the straddle but you are against the wall. Alternate between flex and pointe toes and keep your legs as stretched as possible. If you do not feel comfortable you can always hold your legs at your knees with your hands. Again do not over stretch and listen to your body. Try holding this stretch for a least three minutes.
All of these stretches in total shouldn’t take you any longer than 15 minutes to do. Remember to breathe throughout these stretches and listen to your body. Stretching is supposed to be relaxing and it should feel good. Do not over stretch because that will lead to injuries or you can pull something. Hope you find these stretches to be helpful and keep staying on pointe!