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Stretching

Ballet stretches are an essential part of training in this form of dance. Not only stretching, but stretching correctly, can improve your performance now and extend your dancing life for years.
Stretching Misconceptions

“Bend down and push into the stretch! Now bounce it, three-two-one release!” That’s what you might have heard during a stretching warm-up at a ballet studio a decade or two ago. Misunderstandings about how the muscles work, about how they develop, and about what is the best way to do ballet stretches before you dance have caused many injuries and problems.

Here are a few of the concepts behind good ballet stretches, as understood by contemporary medical professionals like Dr. Steven Stark, author of The Stark Reality of Stretching.

Warm Up before Stretching. Too many dancers (whether ballet or some other form) seem to feel that stretching is a warm up by itself. The fact is, a warm up is exactly that – getting the blood flowing more strongly in your muscles, increasing your heart rate and respiration, basically informing your body that activity is about to take place. This can be massaging the muscles, walking/jogging briskly, jumping (not leaping, just hopping up and down), anything that just takes you to a slightly more active physical state than walking or standing.
Pushing Into or Bouncing a Stretch. – A ballet stretch is designed to encourage your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be comfortable in a more extended state. Unlike strength training, where the muscle fibers are actually broken and then heal, you do not want to cause any damage when stretching. Forcing your body to go further, or worse bouncing into a stretch (which gives you even less control) can lead to soreness that is not the temporary kind from a good rehearsal – it is the kind that stays, day after day, because you have injured yourself.
    Holding a Stretch Too Long – In their quest for the perfect arabesque, a deeper plié, or the ultimate split, many ballet dancers will try to hold their stretches past the point of comfort. Often combined with #2 above, this error compounds the potential for injury. The fact is that stretching is an individual thing, and should be held as long as it takes for the muscles to relax into the stretch. This varies from dancer to dancer, and from day to day.

Stretching Misconceptions

“Bend down and push into the stretch! Now bounce it, three-two-one release!” That’s what you might have heard during a stretching warm-up at a ballet studio a decade or two ago. Misunderstandings about how the muscles work, about how they develop, and about what is the best way to do ballet stretches before you dance have caused many injuries and problems.

Here are a few of the concepts behind good ballet stretches, as understood by contemporary medical professionals like Dr. Steven Stark, author of The Stark Reality of Stretching.

Warm Up before Stretching. Too many dancers (whether ballet or some other form) seem to feel that stretching is a warm up by itself. The fact is, a warm up is exactly that – getting the blood flowing more strongly in your muscles, increasing your heart rate and respiration, basically informing your body that activity is about to take place. This can be massaging the muscles, walking/jogging briskly, jumping (not leaping, just hopping up and down), anything that just takes you to a slightly more active physical state than walking or standing.
Pushing Into or Bouncing a Stretch. – A ballet stretch is designed to encourage your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be comfortable in a more extended state. Unlike strength training, where the muscle fibers are actually broken and then heal, you do not want to cause any damage when stretching. Forcing your body to go further, or worse bouncing into a stretch (which gives you even less control) can lead to soreness that is not the temporary kind from a good rehearsal – it is the kind that stays, day after day, because you have injured yourself.
Holding a Stretch Too Long – In their quest for the perfect arabesque, a deeper plié, or the ultimate split, many ballet dancers will try to hold their stretches past the point of comfort. Often combined with #2 above, this error compounds the potential for injury. The fact is that stretching is an individual thing, and should be held as long as it takes for the muscles to relax into the stretch. This varies from dancer to dancer, and from day to day.

Article Credit: http://dance.lovetoknow.com/Ballet_Stretches

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