What type of Stretching is beneficial For Dancers?
Currently there is some debate about the types of stretching that is benefical for dancers and when and how long should a dancer do stretches for.
here are some thoughts I prepared for a lecture to dance degree students on the topic.
I am happy to discuss specific stretching styles and needs for dancers in a dance assessment appointment.
Flexibility is generally an essential element of dance training and injury prevention. Many dancers need adequate joint and muscle range to achieve the extremes of their art.
Some answers from scientific studies
- Stretching Increases Flexibility when done regularly.
- Flexibility reduces as we age, and if we stop stretching
- Activities that require Flexibility for Performance (e.g. dance, gymnastics, football kick) benefit from Stretch as part of warm up
Static Stretching Before Weight lifting or Running..
- Decreases performance – Decreases in weight lifted or speed
Reduces Injury Rate?
No clear evidence but difficult to prove. Depends on the questions asked in the research study.
Can you imagine not needing stretch as a dancer?!
- IF YOU TEND TOWARD A STIFF, TIGHT BODY TISSUE TYPE
.. You need more stretching
- IF YOU TEND TOWARD A FLOPPY, HYPER MOBILE BODY TISSUE TYPE
..You need more strength and control around joints and nervous system
Each Individual Different
- Each person has their own flexibility issues when it comes to dance. Don’t just stretch muscles that are already flexible.
- Dancers often forget to stretch the front of the thigh and hip (eg. Quadriceps and hip flexor stretches).
- Regular gentle consistent stretching will reap good results for dancers who wish to improve their alignment and technical skill. Best to do sustained stretches at the end of the day if you are specifically working on flexibility.
- Consider how to STRENGHTEN your muscles through range, actively while you are stretching. Eg. Heel raise and lower exercises with toe on step and heel over the edge of a step.
- There are different ways to incorporate stretching into your warm up for dance practice and performance. It is preferable to stretch on a body that is already a bit warmed up.
REFERENCES to read to see what type of stretching is best.
- Ausdance Nat: Fact Sheets. Stretching Rules for Dancers; Warm and Cool Down Rules for Safe Dance
- Critchfield, B. (2011). Stretching for Dancers Resource Paper. IADMS
- Morrin N, Redding E. Acute effects of warm-up stretch protocols on balance, vertical jump height, and range of motion in dancers. J Dance Med Sci. 2013;17(1):34-40.
- Wyon, M. Stretching for Dance. IADMS Bulletin for Dancers and Teachers. 2010;2(1):9-12.
- Utube Animation ‘Do You Need to Stretch?’ 2015 Muscle Myths #3
Susie Bond is the founder of Activate Dance Physio. Susie Bond is the practice director of Activate Physiotherapy, Evolution Pilates and MG Pilates. She has been a physiotherapist for 30 years, a Pilates instructor since 1996 and a dancer since she was 5 years old.