6 Flexibility Tips from a Professional Dancer

6 Flexibility Tips from a Professional Dancer

Flexibility isn’t just a nice thing to have. It’s actually a crucial part of physical fitness and a key component in improving mobility, posture, and muscle coordination. Flexibility can even help reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness. And yet for most of us, it can seem nearly impossible to achieve. 

That’s why we asked our resident marketing strategist for a few tips. In addition to leading FRAME’s marketing efforts, Brielle is World Champion Salsa Dancer who’s performed in countless music videos and at iconic NYC venues like The Dream Hotel and Public Arts. And before you scroll away, you should know Brielle wasn’t flexible as a kid and didn’t begin her professional dance training (or stretching regularly) until she was an adult. 

Stretch regularly.  

The biggest secret to better flexibility? Stretching regularly. “I’d much rather have a client tell me they stretched for 10 minutes every day than once a week for an hour.” If you have a regular workout or fitness routine, try adding on a 5 minute stretch sequence at the end. Even just five minutes can make a big difference in improving overall flexibility. 

Always be warm. 

“Stretching is not warming up,” Brielle says, a lesson she learned after a serious injury kept her off the dance floor for more than six months. She says it’s important to make sure your body is fully warm before you begin stretching or foam rolling of any kind. Her favorite way to warm up before stretching when she’s not planning on doing a full workout that day? Jumping on a mini trampoline! “It’s a great workout and really boosts your mood too.”

Open up smaller muscles first.  

When we think of stretching we often think of isolating individual muscle groups that feel tight, like hamstrings, not realizing just how many smaller muscles there are in the surrounding and adjoining areas of the body. Instead of stretching the biggest, tightest muscle first, try gently pulling the limb away from the socket to open up your joints, then target the smaller muscles across your hips and back. Often, focusing on the smaller muscles can actually increase the range of motion of your hamstring more than focusing on it alone. 

Choose workouts that lengthen and tone muscles. 

“It’s important to understand how other kinds of physical activities in your life may be supporting or contradicting your flexibility goals,” Brielle says. She says one of the reasons so many professional dancers practice Pilates is because the motions and movements of the exercise continuously stretch the muscles. Pilates helps strengthen and lengthen muscles, so muscle strands build longer instead of contracting and building bulk. 

Warm up and stretch after long periods of sitting, especially during travel.

Brielle also notes that sitting for a long period of time––like during a cross-country plane ride––decreases the circulation in your body, causing the muscles to contract and tighten. “The last thing I want to do after a long flight is warm up my body and stretch. But if I don’t, it can take weeks to gain back that lost flexibility.” 

Incorporate deep-tissue massages. 

“My dance coach suggested I start seeing a massage therapist regularly to help with my flexibility and it made a big difference.” That’s because massages increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, release muscle tension, and create length. If you can’t get to a masseuse, try foam rolling and taking regular Epsom salt baths. “You’ll feel more relaxed and see an increase in your flexibility.” 

Where other flexibility tips would you add to this list?! Leave them in the comments below👇
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