Stretches for Dancers

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Oct 17, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Grudge. Me? Never. :D I'm too busy googling to hold a grudge. :lol: Gotta concentrate on one higher-level brain function at a time. :lol:
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    And just to show there're no hard feelings ... :D

    Somatics appears to be the process of retraining your brain to create an automatic relaxation response in your muscles, rather than the usual constriction response. SG, have you read the book, or do you have other references? Thumbs up? :D
  3. suek

    suek New Member

    So I read through the first page of posts (before the googling took over) this morning. Before heading out to a 4.5-hour Chicago Steppin' workshop.

    I tried a few things I read here and on the martial arts stretching links, and I'm going to keep arriving at class 5-10 minutes early to warm up. I feel great!

    This is what I did:

    Starting from my fingers and working down (you can start with toes and work up), I rotated my fingers, then wrists, then elbows, arms, shoulders, neck, head, waist, hips, legs, knees, ankles, toes.

    Then i did a song's worth of aerobic dance warmups: triple steps, scissors, etc.

    Then I stretched for about five minutes.

    About ten minutes total and -- what a concept -- warming up made me feel looser than usual and kept me pain-free through the whole workshop.

    Yay.

    Thanks for all the posts,

    Best,

    Sue
  4. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    Hi Jenn,

    Whoops...I had forgotten all about this thread, and a thumbs up for sure! :)

    Somatics is an actual form of body/mind movement...much like yoga...in fact it could be called a modern offshoot of it. It was created by a man named Thomas Hanna, who is now deceased but his widow has carried the work forward. I was fortunate enough to study with her and the exercises she showed me I still practice to this day. If you find a practitioner who teaches Somatics, they can give you specialized exercises to practice, and they are really great for a quick stretch.

    Basically, from what little I know, and as you found with an online search, the goal of Somatics is to retrain your body from old patterns and to then release them. A lot of it involves pushing a particular stubborn area of the body past its already tensed point, thereby releasing it.

    Another modality to look up is Ortho-Bionomy, it is great stuff, an offshot of Osteopathy.

    Hmm, here's a quick stretch you can try, and I'll do my best to type it out here. (it would 10 be times easier to show someone in person!).

    1. Sit on the edge of a table, bench or bed with your legs dangling, and preferably not touching the floor. The edge of the object you're sitting on should be on the underside of your knees.

    2. Using just one leg at a time, place your hands underneath your knee for support, and then inhale (through your nose) as you lift that leg up as high as you can from the knee (just the last joint of your leg). As you feel those powerful dancer's legs getting a good stretch, hold for a bit, or just release VERY slowly as you exhale through your mouth, bringing your leg back to its starting position. You want to do this about 3 times each side, the slower the better.

    3. Variations - When lifting from the knee, twist your foot to the same side as your particular appendage you are using (left for left, right for right) as far as it will comfortably go...this will give your Psoas muscle and lower back a good stretch. Conversly, try turning the toe the opposite way for a differernt stretch. Again, you may want to do each side 3 times with each of these motions. Also, you can try doing all of these laying down.

    I hope this is clear enough for you! I do this particular exercise before and inbetween songs at dances. :)

    Best

    SG
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Cool. Thanks. I will try. No problem finding someplace where my legs will dangle off the edge. I'm pretty short. Virtually any chair will do. :lol:
  6. Gator

    Gator New Member

    :) Lots of them. Anything that stretches hip flexors, hammstrings, inner thighs. The fav. one that works the most of the muscles is hmm, donno offical name for it, but anyway, "Roadkill Split" - start in the side split and them move the body down to the floor, as flat as you can. Very good for turnouts, hip flexors, thighs, back, you name it.
    Side bends are also important part, improves ribcage isolations, back.
    Drop splits look cool when you dance, although kindda dangerous.

    As of the 24 hour fitness instructions, it's rather how to not get stretched than anything else.

    I do splits with cold muscles, bounce, whatever else. As long as you train right you don't need warmup, not that it'll hurt but you may not always have time. And if you stop every time you feel pain, why will the muscle stretch anyways ;)

    The link provided in this thread had a reference to PNF and isometrics, which IMHO are one of the best ways to develp strong AND flexible muscles.
  7. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    This is a side tangent, but is it possible to train your body to do a full split past a certain age?
  8. Taita

    Taita New Member

    hmmm.... girls doing splits.....

    err, back to my original thought :wink:



    Here's a favorite of mine which may work for you:

    Static Back Contraction

    Basically, you just lie on your back with your feet propped up so that your knees are at a 90 degree angle to the floor. Relax your hips, it's ok if your feet splay outwardly. Keep your hands comfortably relaxed to your sides with your palms facing upward.

    Next.....
    .
    .
    .
    Just relax and breath slowly. Soon, you may feel your tired aching shoulders and back slowly release into the floor and you may feel your entire body sink into place. You may also find your shoulders slowly lowering to the floor and the muscles of your neck releasing as well. Do for at least 5 minutes. If you are in pain, do until the pain subsides.

    Side Effects:

    Muscular pain in your body may cease as your muscles relax into the pose. You may also find it easier to dance with all of your muscles relaxed and in proper alignment. :)
  9. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Back last June or July, I received a PM from a ballet dancer from NY. He read my question on how to "loosen up the upper body," and responded.

    He sent some great exercises in two PMs. I've been doing them pretty regularly for a while, and then religiously lately since I want to compete again real soon.

    I've sent him a PM asking his permission (courtesy) to reprint what he wrote. I hope he still is watching the DF. If I don't hear from him in a few days, I'll copy it and pass it along to you. These exercises need to be shared!

    Vince
  10. Gator

    Gator New Member

    105% possible. I started seriously stretching at 30. Around a year I didn't go far with standard "no pain, relax and wait" instrutions. BTW I was told by many that it was too late, etc. Later I asked a doctor, friend of mine, if there was any medical reason for not being able to split, she said none, unless you have degenerative hip joint disease or something like that.

    After discovering PNF and some more extreme techniques I managed full side splits in around a year, month later I could to suspended splits. Front splits were a lot easier for the record. And that's not the fastest result, my hips were real stiff at the begining.

    Side splits for the girls will be easier because of their anatomy specifics :)

    Anyway, my point is don't believe to those who say the age is a problem, as long as you want it and joints are ok you can do it.
  11. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    Please excuse my ignorance, but what's PNF?
  12. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

  13. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    Thanks Vince! :wink:
  14. norsie

    norsie New Member

    Exercises, Warmups and Stretches

    Hey,

    I'm new to the boards, but I'm a theatre student and I have very limited background in movement technique, ballet, jazz and modern dance (I'll be studying tap this semester). As a little kid I took as much dance as I could, but that was also very limited because I grew up in the middle of nowhere South Dakota. I've always wanted to dance, especially ballet and pointe.

    I guess what I'm trying to ask is that I have an opportunity to take some classes next year in the city that I'm moving too, but I'm horribly out of shape and not flexible at all (well, it's improving anyways). I've been doing the stretches that we learned in our movement and technique classes and I've also started doing aerobic activity, yoga and pilates, but I'm always looking for new workout material, especially since I get bored easily. I'd really like to find some resources with exercises, warmups and stretches that are geared towards dancers and not like Denise Austin stuff. (Am I making sense to anybody?)

    I dunno, I've looked up some of the NY ballet company's dvds and they have a book with stretches and exercises, but I just want to make sure these items would be worth my purchase. I'm just really looking for things to help me get my body into the proper shape for class.

    I really appreciate any input that anyone can give!!!
    Thanks!
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi, norsie. Welcome. :D I believe there are a couple older threads that may help. I'll take a look around, then post them here. :D Welcome.

    Jenn
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

  17. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    There's been a lot of talk about yoga, but has anyone tried pilates? I've never done it myself (for lack of time, mostly), but my main coach really recommends it. I've heard it's focused on strengthening the core and working muscles in groups (instead of concentrating on one at a time) to improve fluidity of movement. Anybody here know more about it?
  18. IvyAB

    IvyAB Member

    Get the NYCB dvds. (Or just one of them.) They're definitely worth it, and they're definitely for dancers. If you're not too flexible right now, you just don't stretch as far, but if you want to push yourself, these workouts are great.
  19. norsie

    norsie New Member

    I really appreciate the feed back...thanks a lot guys!!!

    ooo...PS: got to order a new pair of tap shoes today! I took 3 years of tap when I was a kid...so it's not really my first pair of tap shoes, but it's been forever since I've actually done any training in it, so I guess it's kinda like starting over.

    thanks again though!
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Anytime, norsie. Good luck with the new shoes, and with the tap training. :D

    Jenn

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