Growing up as a dancer since the age of 3, I have always been taught the importance of stretching and just how much it can affect your body. Shockingly, many people forget the importance of stretching, and therefore go through life feeling tight, or sore when a few minutes of stretching could do them a world of good!
Although I am not dancing as intensely as I used to, I still incorporate stretching after my workouts every morning religiously. When I was dancing as a part of my company in the senior corps de ballet, stretching was part of our warmup, and we wouldn’t think of beginning rehearsals with out it!
Stretching before, and/or after a workout can increase flexibility, recovery time, and increase blood flow to muscles. I have a series of stretches I do after my workouts, and find that while it doesn’t necessarily prevent soreness, I do feel more balanced and “loosened” up. I enjoy this stretching time at the end of my workouts to cool down, reflect, and balance myself for the day ahead. Further, stretching after a workout can promote long, lean, elongated muscles that you just worked out! Below you will find a short series of bulleted stretches along with the areas they target that I use daily...
Downward dog: shoulders, hamstrings, calves
Standing hamstring stretch: the backs of your legs. Grab onto the backs of your ankles and try to straighten the backs of your knees to get the most out of it.
Butterfly stretch: inner thighs
Lunging hip flexor stretch: hip flexors, quads, and if you sit back and pull gently on your flexed foot this will target calves and hamstrings. Further, in this position, twisting back and holding onto your back leg with the opposite arm is an excellent quad stretch.
Standing quad stretch
Cobra pose: abdominals and hip flexor