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Stretching before exercising?

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What type of stretches are good to do for warm-up before starting an exercise/ballet class? :confused: I was taught how to stretch after ballet class but not before class.



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Stretching the feet, achilles tendons, calf muscles, and gently stretching the hamstrings. Some ab work would not hurt either ;)

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Ms. Leigh, how do you stretch an achilles tendon? Is that the same as a calf stretch, or a soleus muscle stretch? I did a search under YD stretches and exercises and didn't find any posts explaining how to do this (they just said it's good to stretch the achilles as a warm up).

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I'm interested by this topic, because I have vague recollections of being told not to attempt to stretch before class - and yet I've seen many seasoned dancers (including professionals) do exactly that.





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The achilles tendon is stretched by doing demi pliés :) There is also another exercise where you face the barre, put one foot directly behind the other (not way back like the calf stretch, but immediately behind the other foot) in parallel position and demi plié with the weight slightly more in the back foot.


Antony, advanced and professional dancers have had many years to learn exactly what they can and cannot do before classes, and what their body needs to do. Some do very little, others can do quite a lot, including things I would never teach a student to do! Some of the professionals have so much natural flexibility that they can do things like splits and other extension stretches without damage, but it is NOT recommended if you do not have this kind of ability. I can sit at 180 degrees in a middle split without warmup, but I would never, ever teach a class to do that!

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it was a great revelation to me when my teacher once explained that there are several kinds of stretching (just like there are several kinds of running).


There's gentle warm-up stretching (light jogging to warm-up), that is meant just to "wake up" your muscles and to give you a feeling about your condition that very day, if you have any sore spots or so on.


And then there's stretching seriously to increase your flexibility (running a race as hard as you can). As you cannot safely do a hard sprint without warming up first, you cannot do stretches to the extremes of your capability safely without warming up first. But that doesn't mean you cannot stretch to warm-up - you just have to do it way, way more gently.


I'm sure this must sound as trivial to those of you who have practiced some physical activity for all of your lives, but I had not really thought of it before it was explained to me. :)

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The exercise physiology research is pretty consistent in finding that stretching a muscle does not warm it up. That is, it doesn’t result in a rise in the body’s core temperature (the definition of what it means to warm-up). From an exercise physiology point of view, the best warm-up is to do the activity you are going to do. In ballet, that might be some simple barre exercises and bends of the body.


But dancers do stretch as part of their warm up. At least that is my observation, and I know I do as well, generally about half of my warm-up time. Personally, I just think it makes me feel good, which is a good positive to take to class, regardless of my core body temperature. And flexibility or joint mobility is certainly a need in almost every form of dance, so you can see why dancers spend as much time as they do stretching. Before class is just as good as any other time.


As long as you don’t force a stretch, you are unlikely to get hurt. Stretching when you are really sweating lets you stretch through a larger range of motion than if you were naked outside in zero degree weather at 6 AM, which is why many recommend stretching after exercise rather than before.

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you are perfectly right. I should have been more precise in what I said. Surely stretching cannot constitute all warm up, it can only be used as part of it.


For me, I stretch before classes just to get that feeling of myself I spoke of. Every day is different, and I like to get a general "well, how are we today" talk with my body before I begin work. :)

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Like some of you, I have found it a good idea to do what I call "take inventory" of what is working and what isn't. I have also found it beneficial to do gentle squats to get the noise out of my knees. It can be very embarrassing to have noisy knees during class. I also do the tendon stretch, as mentioned above, plus I sit on the floor with my feet together, with my knees on the floor and keeping my back straight, I slowly bend forward. I think this helps to loosen my hip flexors, but I could be wrong.

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Yes, those all work, and that particular stretch does work on the hip flexors, among others. I'm still coming back from major belly surgery, and I do that one rather a lot. It helps a lot of things in that general area.:)

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Another stretch I learned (I was taught this by a young quasi-professional male (I'm a very non-professional mid-life female) is to prance. This is a slight jog type of movement, basically going up on demi-pointe starting slowly then moving faster, as the body permits, for about three minutes (or as time permits). If you're still wanting more stretch from this you can do slow small soutenu jumps.

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