Stretches for Dancers

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

  1. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    That used to be one of my favorites. The problem I have now, which I'm wondering how you get around, is that my chin gets in the way. Seriously. The pike is fine, but when I bring my knees down to my ears, then my chin hits my breastbone/ribcage/whatever and I can't go any further.

    Perhaps I need to be actually stretching something? Because, really, I feel no stretch from that. (The pike, yes, through the backs of my legs.) Mostly what I feel is my chin digging into my chest which is uncomfortable, and the back of my neck pressing into the floor/whatever, which also is uncomfortable.

    What's going wrong?

    Edit to add another question... Like I said, I feel no muscle stretch with the knees-to-ears thing. But the other thing I do feel, which can't be good, is what feels like a lot of strain on my spine itself. (This isn't the only time when it feels like my actual spine hurts, btw.) Anyone know what the deal is?
  2. and123

    and123 Well-Known Member

    OK, I have heard evil things about this and how it's really bad for your neck. Trying to remember if it was a particular book that pointed out all of the bad ways people attempt to stretch. I can easily put my knees aside my ears, but my neck is to the point of nearly doing a back somersault. It hurts to stay there like that, as does that dang Pilates move Rolling Like a Ball. Hurts the bones of my spine something fierce.
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    So it's not just me! :)
  4. vices

    vices New Member

    Yeah I never liked doing forward rolls because my spine bones always felt bruised.
    Lately I am working on being able to raise my leg straight out in front of me. I'm not sure why I can't do it. Physically I can stretch, if I place my leg up on something. But the act of trying to raise it up shortens the muscle, or something.

    To aid myself, I've been try to stick my leg straight up in the air while laying down, to reduce the strain on my hip flexor and target the ... hamstring? more.

    Any tips?
  5. KathyInKY

    KathyInKY New Member

    Ohhhhh!!! I'm all ears too, Em!!!

    I don't have a desire to become a controtionist. It's just that I'm 47 and only now beginning dance and would really really really like to gain some flexibility and balance.

    I wonder if I can do that without killing myself. LOL!!!
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i think this pose could definitely do some damage if done recklessly.

    i find that the higher i am on my shoulders, the better it all feels... everything seems to find its place, then. i'm easing my way down day-by-day right now... i go only so far as my spine feels pressure but no strain. and as i've said before, i am not a static stretcher, so i move a lot, bringing my legs up high one-by-one and then together in a shoulder stand, then back down, piked over, then bent into the extreme stretch with knees closer to my ears.

    i remember being able to fold easily over and rest my knees on the floor next to my head. and yes, as peaches said, things get pretty tight in the chin/chest area but... i think being up on the shoulders creates more space, so it all fits well enuf. i remember being able to just hang out there & feel great... that is the vision in my head right now to get to.

    coming back out feels great, too... but again, one's back & legs & core all have to be active to control the movement or one could get hurt, i think.

    as for rolling on the spine hurting the little spinal nobbies... i know, i've felt that too. but i think it's probly a sign of bits of misalignment, weaknesses that want to be massaged and enlivened... which is what the rolling does. children love to roll, and adults stop... just like jumping.

    and dear me, now i'm remembering how awesome it felt to roll dynamically right into the knees-by-ears-on-floor position... lord, what a nice feeling! looking forward to being able to do that again.
  7. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    you should probly feel it in the spine... can you get your knees not just by your ears, but resting on the floor next to your ears? the effort to go just that much further is what would probly wake up tight points in your spine...

    and if there's no room, make sure you're getting completely off your back, on the tippy top of what feels like your shoulders... but maybe it is the very base of the neck. i'll have to pay attention to it next time i do it. it doesn't feel bad or straining to rest there... you can feel right away that your weight has good support, as opposed to when you stay more on your back & everything gets squished, and the support is more on your muscles than your skeletal frame.

    yes, there ya go... that's the beauty & power of the pose, i believe... just be gentle with yourself and don't force. if you're feeing pain, it sounds to me like you're going over too far, and perhaps not actively supporting yourself muscularly as you go over. it's an extreme pose that needs active muscles to protect, IME. mebbe take it down a few notches?
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Just tried it. My back is too tight today to get into that position...not even close, lol. Generally, though, yes and no--I could get my knees resting on the floor if it wasn't for my chin being in the way. I can't find a way around that.

    And it doesn't feel good on my neck. Yes, I'm completely up and off my back, but that just hurts my neck. Given that I've seen the effects of necks getting screwed up, I think I'll just avoid that altogether.

    (I used to be able to do that without a problem, even going so far as to continue the roll and end up on my knees. Part of the problem is loss of flexibility, I'm sure--I also used to have no problem locking my feet behind my head--but the other part of it is that I know my body proportions have changed from when I was little.)
  9. Easy

    Easy Active Member

    I see a lot of dancers stretching before they compete or perform. I could be wrong, but wouldn't it make more sense to warmup first, since stretching takes the muscles closer to their stress limits? Seems like a good method would be...warmup, dance, then stretch afterwards. Any thoughts on this?
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    stretching is good before dancing IMO...but as you note, not before warming up...after is also a good idea IMO
  11. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    Yeah, I did this once in a class without much padding. The next day I had little round purple bruises all up my spine!
  12. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

  13. reb

    reb Active Member

    That's that most fun part for me!
  14. Chiron

    Chiron New Member

    I'm one of the dancers you will see stretching right before they perform. I'm already warm at this point and the reason I'm stretching is more a nervous twitch than to get loose. It gives me something to do and a way to spend some energy/focus until I go on. The other options for me is to run/do pushups/jump up and down, but those always get weird looks.
  15. Easy

    Easy Active Member

    lol Thanks for the explanation. :)
  16. emily13

    emily13 New Member

    Ah, same here, Chiron. Before classes, performances, whatever. I do hop around a little, like jog in place, just to get blood flowing my my muscles. It really helps.

    Also, stretching in the morning is a great way to wake up ;) I stretch every morning after I take my shower.
  17. Me

    Me New Member

    I think the key to flexibility (other than being 'born with' a body that lends itself) is dedicating the time to train it. If you want to become more flexible but are thinking, "Okay, I'll take ten minutes this morning to work my splits" then you'll never make it. There is a lot of good advice here on tips to warm up before stretching, and it is very important to hold a stretch. I trained ballet for many years, and never were we ever taught to plop down into a split before warming up at a barre, or taught to 'bounce' our foreheads against our knees while bending forward, etc. It takes patience and, as has been noted, a tolerance for discomfort (not pain). I think the only real way to cut down on the 'time' factor would be to engage in stretches after your lesson. This way your muscles are mostly warmed up and you don't have to spend time warming them.
  18. Easy

    Easy Active Member

    Excellent info you...I mean Me :)
  19. emily13

    emily13 New Member

    I agree with Me.
    It all boils down to, if you don't want to dedicate the time, you might as well not bother. It doesn't just magically happen. So many people think that they can stretch 30 minutes every other day and become rubber in 3 weeks. NO. It's gonna take months, maybe years.

    One thing that you will possibly run into is the doubt of others. DON'T let anyone say "you can't do it." IGNORE them. I get that ALL that time. Well, I normally get comments like "There's no point" or "You're wasting your time. You'll never get into cirque." My response? Go fall out of a tree. ;D

    Anyways, I wish ya the best of luck ^_^
    Don't expect it to happen in weeks. It's gonna take several months, sad to say. And don't start WISHING. Wishing only hurts the heart, and won't get you anywhere :p

    -Em
  20. reb

    reb Active Member

    What! Telling someone to go fall out of a tree?!?!

    how rude - we don't use language like that around here young lady . . .

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