Dancing is often used to express an idea, emotion, or losing one’s self in the delight of movement. It’s also a combination of strength, endurance, and rhythm. But do you have to be flexible to dance?
The short answer is yes. Flexibility, in itself, is one of the most important aspects of dancing.
This isn’t to say that you’re not allowed to dance if you’re not particularly flexible. It does, however, help dancers perform with ease, and makes their performance look smooth and flawless.
The Importance of Flexibility in Dancing
There’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to move your body as you want it to, which is why the physical aspect of flexibility is vital. It reduces the risk of injuries and sore muscles while dancing, and releases the tension on your body.
Improving your overall flexibility has a ton of positive effects on the body, even if you’re not a dancer.
- It aids in proper posture
- Helps with mobility and muscle coordination
- Promotes better blood circulation
- Reduces risks of common injuries
- Decreases the soreness of muscles
- Increases motion range
Most importantly, it improves your physical performance and promotes a positive mindset.
How to Increase Flexibility Fast (Full Body)
Several exercises and poses will allow you to increase your flexibility fast. You can apply them throughout the day, or as a part of your daily workout routine, similar to a warmup before dancing. You should always consult a doctor before beginning any time of exercise or stretching routine.
The Downward-Facing Dog touches on working your hamstrings, triceps, quadriceps, and deltoids, to name a few.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: With your hands and knees on the floor, set your knees below your hips and your hands under your wrists.
Step 2: Push yourself up using your hands while you tuck your toes and lift your knees. Keep your head lifted proportionally to your shoulders.
Step 3: Lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling.
Step 4: Push your thighs back while stretching your heels towards the floor. Your knees must be straightened, but not locked. Keep your palms flat on the ground. Your head must line up with your upper arms; chin tucked into your chest, neck relaxed.
Step 5: Hold still for up to a minute, making sure you take a short rest in between these poses. Repeat for 3-5 times.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
This exercise helps in stretching the neck, glutes, back, and calves.
Step 1: Stand straight with your arms by your sides, feet slightly apart, and knees bent.
Step 2: Bend forward by lowering your head towards the floor. Remember to keep your head, neck, and shoulders tense-free.
Step 3: Wrap your arms around the back of your legs, between your calf and heel, hands flat. Keep this pose for 45 seconds to 2 minutes.
Step 4: Repeat in between short breaks.
Involving thorough body movement, dynamic stretches are mainly used as a form of warmup.
Here are some examples of dynamic stretches:
These exercises need to be done anywhere from between 10-30 minutes, at least three times. Remember, consistency is everything. Just like any other learned art or sport, we need to train our bodies to maintain our flexibility.
Other Stretches to Work on
Other than full body stretches, you can work on specific body parts such as your back, hips, and feet. Let’s start with back stretches.
Flexibility in your back is essential, not only for dancing but for other sports as well. This includes gymnastics, swimming, and figure skating.
Stretching your back, in tandem with other muscles that work with your back, is the best way to improve overall flexibility.
Here are some back stretches you can do:
Here are some of the best stretches to loosen up tight hips and improve flexibility.
Foam Roller Stretch
Step 1: While facing slightly to your side, place your foam roller beneath and below your right hip. Your left leg needs to be set to the side, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Rest your forearms on the ground. Your right leg is stretched straight behind you.
Step 2: Slowly move back and force over the foam roller.
Step 3: Continue this movement for at least 30-seconds. While rolling, make sure to identify any trigger points you may have, and focus on those areas for 10 seconds to relieve the stress or pain.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
If you’re looking to loosen your hip flexor, you can do this stretch daily.
Step 1: Kneel on your right knee.
Step 2: With your knee at a 90-degree angle, put your left foot on the floor. Straighten your back while pushing your hip forward.
Step 3: Hold the position for at least 30-seconds. Repeat 2-5 times.
Feet stretches to improve the flexor muscles of the toes and feet.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Keep your feet flat on the floor on top of a towel. You can do this sitting straight on a chair or standing up.
Step 2: Grasp the towel between your toes and curl it towards yourself. You can do both feet together or individually.
Step 3: Repeat a few times.
This exercise is excellent for plantar fasciitis.
Here’s how to do it, preferably with a Step Stretcher.
Step 1: Stand on a step with your heels off the edge.
Step 2: Lower your heels down slowly and hold that pose for 10-15 seconds, then return to your starting position.
Step 3: Repeat 5-10 times.
Taking Dance Classes vs. Teaching Yourself at Home
There are many benefits of taking dance lessons, but not all of us have either the time or the money to take one. Many professionals are self-taught, but these same professionals would most of the time urge you to take lessons. Why?
It’s because you get to socialize and practice with other beginner dancers. Teachers also help you fix your movements and posture while encouraging you to keep going. This allows you to grow individually and as a group.
Teaching yourself at home, on the other hand, allows you to manage your own time, at your own pace. And, of course, it’s completely free.
Dance is performing in front of an audience. Whether you decide to take dancing classes or merely to teach yourself at home, both options have their pros and cons.
Do You Have to Be Flexible to Dance?
Yes; Most forms of dance require various types of physical abilities; this includes strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. One can’t go without the other.
Incorporating certain types of exercise in your daily routine will help improve all of these physical aspects.
Flexibility doesn’t happen overnight, but don’t let it stop you from dancing. Once you get used to doing these daily exercises, you’ll find significant results in a few weeks!