General Dance Discussion > New to dancing - I am SOOO stiff. How do I fix that?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Mysticle31, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Mysticle31

    Mysticle31 New Member

    Hello. A couple years ago I started a policy for myself that I'm going to try something new every year and get it as a skill. This year I chose dancing.

    I have like, 0 athletic inclination or coordination. It's developing though. I want to improve my flexibility, posture, health, core strength. One of the things I'm nervous about is I am SO stiff, especially in the legs. I'm still in my 20s, and want to get this solved before I stiff up more as I age. Even as a kid I took Taiquando and did not kick well or high, made it to purple belt and stopped. I cant touch my toes, no splits..etc. You know the stretch were you sit in with legs out in a V shape and you bend down to try and put your front on the floor. Yeah, I can't do that. I go from 90 degrees, to 80 degrees :) How can I fix that? It will probably take a year of limbering up just to start dancing :). Yoga? Palities? P90X?

    I'm taking an intro to dance class at a local collage, I'm a student there. We are doing Ballett, then Jazz, and Hip Hop, and a couple others. I may want to drop the class, stretch, then go back.
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    warm up before you stretch or you may well tear something and become less flexible.. do stretches after a workout...not less than 20 second holds for each static stretch...and drink lots of water after that...welcome to df
  3. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I've found that consistent stretching has helped my flexibility, but the main thing that has helped me is something called the Feldenkrais Technique (named after the guy who invented it). It's a gentle, non-invasive series of movements that unlock bad habits and help your mind/body learn new ways to move.

    If you want to give it a try, you can google "Feldenkrais" and your location to see if there are any classes available near you. IMO, group classes are better for dancers than individual sessions (unless you have a major physical problem) because they teach you more clearly to be aware of what your body is doing.

    Here's a site with some free Feldenkrais lessons online:

    There are some hamstring lessons listed. I haven't tried them yet, so I can't vouch for them, but the quality of the lessons I have tried is good.

    If you try it, the main thing to remember is that you should not do any movement to the point of pain. The focus of Feldenkrais is how aware you can be of what your muscles and bones are doing when you move, not how much/far you can go.

    (They are tapes of actual lessons, so if the instructor doesn't specify how you should start (because his/her actual students at the time were already in that position), you should start lying on your back comfortably on a carpet or mat (with head support if necessary for comfort.)

    Welcome to dancing and to DF!
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    For skating, I would do two or three laps of hard stroking/crossovers, THEN stretch with the boards as a barre--warming up a little, like fasc says, will save you from some tearing and stress.

    And whatever method you go with, practice practice practice. I'm not super-flexible but I'm better than I was from just doing a little each day.
  5. harp34552

    harp34552 Member

    Try to find a buddy to help you stretch - either at class or at home right afterward, while you're still warm. Gentle pressure (gentle!) can help to encourage those stretches past where you might normally stop. If flexibility or reaching far enough is a problem, use a strap or a belt to help pull yourself toward whatever extremity you're stretching (e.g. lie on the floor with a flat back, hips tucked under, float one leg straight up towards the ceiling and loop the strap around your foot while you're holding the ends; then use the strap to guide your leg across your body and open on the other side, and then to pull it straight toward your chest in a kind of front-split position).
  6. cl100

    cl100 Member

    a shot of tequila before class? *just kidding* but... :)
  7. flashdance

    flashdance Active Member is a good read :)

    /covers mouth, isn't it strange how the human psyche can remember the 'taste' of a drink? I almost felt like throwing up when you mentioned Tequila! :rocker: (i have drunk Tequila, but only when I'm about to fall over :lol: ).

    Needless to say I'll stick with my tea :D
  8. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    You're playing my song, here. Like you, in that v-stretch, I go from 90 degrees to 80. You know what? I can dance anyway, and I do. Stretching is immeasurably valuable, and makes many movements easier, but I don't need to be able to put my nose to my knee in order to be able to dance. It won't take a year of limbering before you can start to dance; do yoga or pilates or PNF as an adjunct, not a replacement.
  9. ant

    ant Member

    I think the above is good advise.
    If you have not had any form training before, go to the college gym arrange for an induction class and ask the instructor to devise and instruct you in a warmup/stretch routine that you can then use at home.
    Pilates and yoga are also very good for your core strength, they may help with your posture. This is an area I would have have checked out anyway, as bad posture may be the cause of the stiffness you are complaining of.
  10. ant

    ant Member

    I have always thought of feldenkrais as helping within the joints rather than the muscle and other soft tissue around the joints. Like you I have found Feldnekrais very helpful.
  11. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Stretching is good. Also, any activity that focuses on body awareness is good. Yoga and pilates help. Basically, a lot of why we are stiff is we don't realize the contortions we put ourselves through the day. Learning how to control individual muscles, and how to keep good posture throughout the day, not just while dancing, will be a huge help.
  12. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    OK, I've avoided it so far, but:


    it's changed my life.
  13. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I think it helps where you need it. It has definitely helped my flexibility by changing patterns of tension and holding, allowing greater range of motion.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Ballet for sure, and Jazz to a somewhat lesser extent place a premium on limberness; ballet in ways that are, shall we say, somewhat unusual. (Turn out is a great example of that.) Hip hop less so, I think.

    I've taken courses in all of these forms, and felt the same way you do!
    I have read that at one time ballet masters were very selective in who they would take as students. They picked people whose body fit the expectations of the form, rather than trying to mold the bodies to fit the form.

    Social dance does not put the same premium on flexibility.
  15. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    True, but even if social dance steps don't require extreme flexibility, it's still beneficial to be limber so that a) you have full freedom of movement and don't have to alter your steps to accommodate limitations and b) it helps prevent injuries.

    My suggestion to the OP is to stretch every day for a few minutes, after warming up of course. It's important to stretch often enough to produce results.

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