The Importance of Stretching
Stretching is often overlooked, seen as unimportant, and as the couple of minutes that take away from dance time. However, it is actually an integral part of dance.
When I first started dancing, it took me some time to recognize the full value of stretching on my physical and mental health. Now, I try to dedicate a few minutes every day to stretching. On my busiest days, I try to squeeze in some stretching while going over my to-do lists.
Here at ZIND, we dedicate the first part of our classes to stretching. Part of our leadership building class captain program gives students this important responsibility. We have our class captain lead stretches at the beginning and end of every dance class. This instills in them starting from a young age that stretching is essential. Here are a few reasons why:
Stretching reduces the risk of injury. Stretching loosens up your muscles, helps prepare you for the rigorous activity you are about to do, and makes you more flexible over time. Flexible muscles and increased circulation makes you less likely to be susceptible to injuries. This definitely comes in handy when we’re go-go-go as we’re getting ready for a performance or competition and just rehearsing our routines non-stop. In fact, we have a competition coming up this October!
Stretching is a stress-reliever. Stretching increases circulation and can even relieve pain and tension. Stretching is great for post-exercise relief. When your body feels tight and overworked post-workout, there’s nothing better than a deep stretch to feel better. It makes the BIGGEST difference when you stretch after a high-energy dance class compared to when you don’t. Your body will thank you!
Stretching helps improve posture. Slouching and hunching is unfortunately the default for many of us. Most stretches target multiple muscle groups. For instance, stretching your right arm towards your left foot, works your side body, your legs, and your back. Strengthening these muscles helps align your body and improve your posture. Good posture is definitely a must, especially for classical dance styles like Bharatanatyam (ZIND has our beginners and advanced semi-classical classes on Thursdays!).
Stretching increases your range of motion. Stretching leads to increased flexibility, which leads to an increased range of motion, which can, in turn, also lead to better joint-health. Of course, it must be mentioned that increased flexibility IMPROVES your dancing capabilities by a lot!
What’s your favorite stretch?