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The Dance Stretch Series

Written by: Dr. Laura Fetko, PT, DPT


True or False: A warm up can consist only of static stretching? The answer is false, stretching is important however, static stretching does not increase the blood flow needed to prepare the muscles for dancing. Dynamic stretching in this situation is more beneficial, static stretching when the muscles are cold can actually cause injury. Does that mean static stretching does not have its place? No, when warm static stretching can be beneficial especially after a dance class, to lengthen the muscles that have been you have been working. Today I am going to explain five different stretches, how to execute them and which muscles they stretch.


Scorpion stretch:


Lie facedown on a mat with your legs fully extended behind you and your arms stretched out to either side. Your body should be in the shape of a T.

  1. Rest your chin on the mat and look down so your spine is in a neutral position from your neck to your tailbone.

  2. Press your palms lightly onto the floor to remind yourself to keep your upper body in this position. During the stretch, avoid moving your upper back, chest, or shoulders.

  3. Lift your right leg from the ground and bend your right knee to a roughly 90-degree angle. Reach your right foot across your left leg and try to touch the ground outside your left leg with your right toes.

  4. Your hips and lower back will rotate as you move, but your chest and shoulders should stay in place.

The scorpion stretches the low back working with spinal rotations and hip flexors.


Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch:


  1. Begin in a half kneeling position with one knee bent in front of your body.

  2. Tighten your abdominals, tilt your pelvis backward (tuck your pelvis), and gently push your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.

This stretch focuses on the hip flexor which can help with releasing the lower back as well.


Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch with side bend variation:


  1. Begin in a half kneeling position with one knee bent in front of your body.

  2. Tighten your abdominals, tilt your pelvis backward (tuck your pelvis), and gently push your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.

  3. Side bend over the bent leg with arm in port de bras

This stretch focuses on the hip flexor, lats and obliques which can help with releasing the lower back as well.


Down Dog


  1. Prop your feet up on your toes, then push your body up into an inverted V position with your elbows and knees straight. Hold this position, feeling a stretch through your back and legs.

  2. Make sure to keep your shoulders down, as well as your hands and feet flat on the floor during the stretch.

Down dog focuses on the claves, hamstrings, glutes, low back and shoulders.


Figure 4 Stretch


  1. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent. Cross one leg over the other so your ankle is resting on your opposite knee.

  2. Pull your leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch and hold.

  3. Make sure to keep your back flat against the floor during the stretch.

This stretch focuses on the low back and glutes.

Cobra



  1. Begin lying on your belly, with toes pointed and legs straight.

  2. Place your hands next to your chest on the floor. Push your hands into the floor and lift your chest off the floor, straightening your elbows. Keep your pubic bone on the floor. Gaze forward. Return to lying on your belly.

  3. Keeping your pubic bone on the floor makes sure that this is a back bend (not a hip bend). Make sure your shoulders are engaged downward to keep your neck long.

Cobra focus on stretching the abdominal muscles.


These are not the only stretches that will be helpful post dance class or rehearsal. If you have any further questions, please visit our website at magnapt.com or email our Dance Medicine Team, Dr. Meagan Robichaud, PT, DPT at meagan@magnapt.com or Dr. Laura Fetko, PT, DPT at laura@magnapt.com


Resources:

https://www.thehealthy.com/exercise/scorpion-stretch/

https://destinationyoga.co.uk/latest-news/poses/downward-dog/

Medbridge.com



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