07 Oct Finding Your Flexibility
The goal of dancers everywhere is better flexibility. With increased flexibility, positions become more manageable, though it is not the most essential thing for ballet beginners to have super flexibility. When trying to get more flexible, if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your body, potentially causing minor to severe injury. Here are some questions to ask yourself and tips to follow to build your flexibility as you progress as a dancer.
How flexible are you currently?
The first question, particularly for older dancers, is what level of flexibility you can now obtain. Can you touch your toes, or are you struggling to get your fingertips to graze the floor? If you’re struggling with this first step, your first goal will be to develop your hamstring flexibility. This should be done through regular and ballet-centered stretches. Many common stretches will not assist your body and muscles in the ways that are needed to improve your dance. If you have no problem touching your toes, can you put your hands flat on the ground? Determining how flexible you are is a great starting point for setting realistic flexibility goals.
What are your flexibility goals?
After finding your current level of comfort when stretching will allow you to set attainable goals. Once you have decided your goal, whether that be being able to touch your toes for the first time or go into the full splits, you can then develop a plan to reach that objective.
How does your body feel when stretching?
One of the worst things you can do for your body is to over or under stretch. Both of these can lead to injuries down the line in different ways. You don’t want to overextend or injure your muscles by pushing yourself too hard, and along a different vein, you also don’t want to not stretch enough and hurt yourself while dancing. Check in with your body and honestly assess how you are feeling when stretching different muscles.
Have you reached out for help or guidance?
One of the beautiful things about joining ballet classes at any stage in your life, is the community you find. You will be surrounded by people with a wealth of knowledge, whether that’s to provide tips for great stretches or to direct you to a physiotherapist, a professional who can help build flexibility. You are not in this journey alone, nor are you the first person seeking to become more flexible for your art. Reach out to others and ask questions, someone will be able to offer, at the very least, some helpful advice.
There are so many aspects of the body that must be taken into consideration when trying to obtain greater flexibility. Know your body, know your community, find what works best for you, and practice that consistently. Consistency does more for the body than the best stretch once a month ever could. Track your progress over several months and see how you reach your goals before moving on to more challenging ones.