How important is it to stretch for a dancer?
Why is stretching important? How many times do we have to encourage our students to stretch?
Today we put a spotlight on Bianca Delli Priscoli, a teacher of the Ailey School and the Long Island Ballet and we ask: why is stretching so important?
Stretching is a very important element of every dancer’s life. It is important for many different aspects related to the dancer’s body care and health, because the more care we give to it the longer can be the dancer’s career.
It is also important to know the correct way to practice it and what kind of movement and action we should do for the different parts of the body and their needs. One of the most important benefits of stretching is the improvement of flexibility. As we all know, little by little, the standard of dancer’s flexibility became much higher than what it used to be in the past. We also should know that every dancer has a different body shape and flexibility range, so it is so important to not force it. The flexibility of a dancer depends on a range of movement of one or more joints, influenced by the muscles, the bones, the ligaments and the tendons. The best way to gain flexibility is the stretching of the muscle, while tendons and ligaments stretch minimally.
It has to be done slowly, once the body is warm, because we need to give time to the blood to flow through muscles. Most importantly it shouldn’t be painful. So, it is so important to do some cardio exercises before, such as a small run on the spot or some jumps. If we want, we can stretch before class, otherwise we can practice it after an exercise or a class, to help the muscles relax.
Another benefit of stretching is to correct posture, because it encourages muscles to return into their correct alignment, that is the reason why we use it to relieve pain in specific areas of the body. We have to practice equally on both sides in order to make our body work perfectly and smoothly.
Stretching is also important to gain stronger technique, improve movement in order to be able to improve performance.
It is also good to help the dancer to calm the mind and increase the energy in the body.
All these things are very important in order to become a very good and healthy dancer, able to perform at his/her best and at his/her maximum.
Bianca Delli Priscoli