Flexibility is on everyone’s mind, especially when we talk about splits and extension. Many people think that flexibility can be achieved in only few hours or days but unfortunately this is not the case. Flexibility, depending on the body and age can take up to 6 month or a year of constant and disciplined work. It can be frustrating because you want to see results right away but when we talk about the body we need to be careful and work with what we have. Remember we only have one to last us a lifetime. The better we look after it the longer we live without pain or at least a little less.
#1: Understanding what you're working towards
Everyone wants to be more flexible! Why is that? I tell you few fun facts about why being flexible is important, aside for being useful for dancers (this comes with the job description).
It improves posture and relieve tension, You will smile every day!
It prevents injuries because of the wider range of motion
It improves blood circulation and oxygen flow. More smiling for you!
It lengthens your muscles and you will look, taller, leaner and more confident.
You can show off at parties by pulling your leg to your ear…make sure you wear pants!
#2: Always Be Warm
Being warm is the key to prevent injuries before stretching! When you muscles are warm and oxygenated the range of motion is higher and elongating the muscles will be easier.
Think it like a play dough, you need to work through it to being able to mould the shapes you want. Same with your body.
#3: Never Get Frustrated
Many get frustrated after the first day as they might not see improvements right away. There are many factors to consider: age and fitness level are the most important. A grown body takes longer to achieve flexibility than a younger one. Kids are more flexible naturally. With age your flexibility decreases, but the ability and determination to achieve your goal remains the same throughout life, actually it improves!
#4: Consistent Work is the Key
Working on flexibility takes time and you really have to work for it. The more consistent and determined you are, the more you’ll achieve your goal. Working on flexibility every day will help you more than just trying once in a blue moon. Stick to your plan and work through it.
#5: Push youself (in a good way) - No Pain No Gain
If the exercise is too easy it means you have to push to “where it hurts.” Every time push a little bit more to the point of that “pain.” My teacher always said “ no pain, No gain,” and I guess I don’t really need to explain that. Be very careful during your first days, you need to learn to understand your body and listen to what it needs. Stretching should always feel "good pain," don't overdo it or it will turn out to be "bad pain."
#6: Look for workouts to improve Strength too
Improving extension is not only determined by your flexibility, but also your strength in holding your limbs into place.
Correct posture makes sure that the lines you are holding are beautiful and correct. The art of Ballet is defined by the attention to details of the movements and shapes as well as the communication between dancer and audience. Physical Extension has evolved since the early days of ballet and dancers are faced with improving and changing their shapes daily.
#7: Keep Track of your Training Schedule and Focus on Your Goal
Start with stretching after your classes, every time you workout, take 10/15 min to stretch your body throughout. If you have more time after class or training, start with taking longer stretches and more targeted to your needs and goals. If you don’t workout every day, warm up first then dig into that stretch. Working on it every day will certainly help.
Don’t compare yourself to others! Everyone is different and you’ll achieve different goals at different times.
Focus on your goal and don’t lose sight of it. If you really want it you will get there. That’s valid for everything in life. If it makes it easier to keep on track print a schedule out and tick a box every day to check your progress.