Dancer Flexibility | How to Get More FlexibleNov 18, 2021
BY GINA MCFADDEN
DANCER FLEXIBILITY | HOW TO GET MORE FLEXIBLE
Scrolling on IG we see picture after picture of beautiful dancers with their leg up to their ears and their feet impossibly arched. Flexibility is the envy of dancers everywhere.
The problem is that there is a lot of murky information floating around about just how to get more flexible - in a safe way. Spoiler alert - sitting the hyper splits is NOT the answer.
I am here to help cut through the fog of information and give you the scoop on how to *safely* get more flexible! Read all the way to the end and get a great FREE RESOURCE to help you LEVEL UP, Dancer!
The first place we need to start in our conversation around flexibility is:
FLEXIBILITY CANNOT BE FORCED.
There are some things you can change safely, patiently, over TIME in your body and some things that - despite your best efforts - will never change. I find this is extremely helpful when having a discussion around flexibility. Just because you WANT an arabesque above 90, doesn’t mean it is available with the structure of your body.
Try this please: sit on the ground, with your feet out in front of you. Now squeeze your knees as straight as they will go. Did your heels pop up off of the floor or stay connected? If they lifted off the ground, it is because you have hyper extension in your knees. If they stayed connected, you were just not trying hard enough. Just kidding.
Repeat after me: “There are things in my body that I can change over time and there are things that cannot be changed.
Dancers wanting to be flexible can sometimes adopt the idea that they could get their leg up to their ear if only they try hard enough. Dear Dancer, I encourage you to stop that self-limiting belief. Work hard, yes, but realize some things are out of your control and need to be accepted.
FLEXIBILITY HAS ITS LIMITS.
Make sure you’re not trying to change something that cannot change. Certain structures in your body cannot be altered.
FLEXIBILITY TAKES TIME.
Okay. Let’s say that you want more flexible hamstrings. This is something that you CAN change, given the proper stretching and a good dose of patience and time.
Here’s an analogy for you… Let’s say you just got some play dough out of the refrigerator. It’s cold. It’s stiff. It’s not too stretchy at this point. No amount of your efforts to make it bendy is going to change that with the snap of your fingers. Enough time has to pass before the play dough warms to room temperature, allowing it to be pliable.
Dancer, it is safe to say, you’re not gonna get into your splits in a day, a week, even a month or potentially a year. When you think about increasing your flexibility think in terms of the long haul. Each day you work a little bit toward your goal. Those little efforts lead to more flexibility with time.
Am I telling you to be patient? Perhaps I am 💁🏻♀️
We are going to circle back around to this topic next week, so stay tuned for more advice on dancers increase flexibility.
If you enjoyed this article, you will love my FREE Class Journal Printable to track your progress and make the most out of each class! Click here to download.
Bio: Gina McFadden is a dance educator, choreographer and author. Her book, Dancer, 360°: The Competitive Dancer’s Guide to Leveling Up will be coming out later this year. Gina danced professionally with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet Pacifica, State Street Ballet and The National Choreographers Initiative. She has been on the faculties of Boston Ballet School, Grand Rapids Ballet School, New Jersey Ballet School, Hope College and Grand Valley State University. Gina has degrees in business and legal studies. She is a certified yoga instructor as well as a Holistic Life, Career & Executive Coach. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband and two daughters where she is an avid home-cook and a highly marginal golfer.
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