In the world of Dance there are some dancers who are naturally flexible, and some dancers who aren’t – I was the latter. I stood in awe of the those around me who could kick their legs up to their head and do the splits without needing to stretch. They made it look so easy and I was always frustrated and disappointed that I was not naturally flexible.
If you’re like me then I have good news! Over time, through hard work and perseverance, I was able to achieve a level of flexibility that I had previously thought was impossible – and so can you!
Here are my Top Tips to improve your flexibility ~
Always Warm Up
Before you attempt any kind of stretching it is really important to warm up. If you stretch when your muscles are cold there is a higher risk of injury and you will see little benefit from the stretch. By warming your muscles up first, you will increase blood flow to your muscles and improve their elasticity so that you get a much safer, deeper and more effective stretch. Cardio exercises including jogging, skipping & star jumps are great examples of ways you can warm up before stretching.
Consistency is Key
I want you to think about a hair elastic. If you use a hair elastic once a week, it will generally bounce back to it’s original shape every time. If you use it every single day however, over time that piece of elastic will start to become so stretched that it will no longer keep your hair up.
What does a hair elastic have to do with your muscles and stretching? Well imagine your muscles are like that hair elastic. If you take one class a week at the Studio and only stretch during that class without any additional stretching throughout the week, your muscles will remain tight. But if you stretch at home every single day, your muscles will start to loosen up and allow you to stretch a bit further each time.
Listen to your Teacher
It is really important to ensure your body and muscles are correctly aligned when you are stretching. Incorrect alignment can not only impact the effectiveness of a stretch but can also lead to injury. Every time your Class Teacher gives you a correction or adjusts your muscle alignment, try to remember what they have told you so that each time you do that stretch, you can continue to do it correctly.
Flexibility isn’t Comfortable
It is good to note that improving your flexibility is neither easy or comfortable. When you stretch it should not be extremely painful but it will hurt. In order to see improvement, you will need to have the motivation and commitment to push yourself past what feels comfortable.
Regular breathing is extremely important when stretching. If you hold your breath, your body instinctively holds tension in your muscles preventing you from getting the most out of each stretch. By taking deep breaths in and out, you will help to release the tension from your body allowing your muscles to relax and get a deeper stretch.
Don’t forget, it won’t happen overnight, but if you are consistent and remember to stretch correctly, you too will start to see your flexibility improve.