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Ballet Talk for Dancers

stretching


Guest andalusia

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Guest andalusia

I'm trying to get more flexible. What kinds of stretches are good for preparing for the splits? Also, how much stretching is "safe"- I don't want to rip anything. I'm really enjoying this BB!

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Andalusia, the most important things about flexibility stretching are to know exactly what you are doing, and to be very warmed up first!

 

To know what you are doing, work only on stretches which have been taught in class and corrected by your teacher. Do not do stretches you see other dancers doing, especailly if they are advanced dancers, and it is best not to try and take something from posts on the board and just do it without really knowing how to do it and if you are ready to do it.

 

Working on splits is fine, WHEN you are completely warmed up, and they are probably the best in terms of flexibility. Being able to "do the splits" is not important. They are a stretch, that's all. So, the working on them is what is important. Be sure you keep the weight in your hands, keep the knees straight, and maintain the rotation, even if you can't get all the way down.

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Guest DancingBoi

This is sorta off the topic but before the end of my "growth spurt" I was extremely flexible. I could not only do the splits but I could put my leg over my head. That was my hidden talent I guess. Anyway once I finished growing I began to notice a decline in my flexiblity. Now I can only do the splits after being really really warmed up and stretched and even then I wouldn't dare think of trying to put my leg over my head as I'm sure I'd be stuck in that position :) I've also noticed that in ballet class my back isn't flexible enough to port de bra all the way. I guess in this case the only way to improve would be to do more of them!

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Andalusia

 

I wold also have a good peruse of the archives on balletalert. Type splits in the search part, (magnifying glass icon at top of page) and I am sure you will find some more helpful hints.

 

Xena x B)

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Adrienne, are you sure of that? I don't believe there is any rule about newbies using search feature for posts. You can't do Private Messages, or look at profiles, but the general search feature is available to everyone on the board. That magnifying glass icon is at the top of every page!

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As one who is terribly inflexible, I’ve done a lot of reading about stretching, talking to different people about stretching, and experimenting on myself. The research I’ve read generally concludes that static stretching for a lengthy time is more effective than ballistic stretching as a means of improving flexibility. Based on those findings, one can conclude that the stretches done in most ballet classes just aren’t held long enough to be very effective. I agree with that, though I do find ballet class stretches loosen my back muscles, which tend to tighten during barre and center.

 

Once outside the real research literature, you will find much written about stretching. People have different ideas about how to improve flexibility. I’m sure that they all work for some people. The yoga literature is a good source.

 

Personally, I would encourage anyone to do what I’ve done, which is to experiment. Read, then try out whatever you are reading about. You’ll find that you like some things and other things you just hate. Though I cannot prove it, what I believe has worked for me is the idea of exercising the muscle that opposes the muscle that you are trying to stretch, then stretching and holding the stretch for 30-60 seconds. The method is described in Sally Fitt’s book Dance Kinesiology. Also making sure I am sweating profusely when I do stretch. I’m still not flexible, so one could argue that what I’m doing hasn’t been all that effective I understand.

 

I also average about 30 minutes a day stretching.

 

Also, I’m the only person in my jazz class who cannot do the splits (which is part of the warm-up), but I don’t think they are significantly better dancers than I am.

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