Stretching is a vital part of any exercise or fitness regimen. Stretching out your muscles after your workouts (or in general) helps to make your workouts more efficient and safe. Working your muscles can put them at risk of injury, but when you stretch, you reduce that risk of injury.
Burlesque and pole students specifically will benefit from a stretching routine outside of class, since flexibility is particularly important in those classes. While we both begin and end those classes with stretching, you need to stretch more than once or twice a week to really begin to see improved flexibility. Ideally, you’d stretch daily.
5 Stretches to Improve Flexibility
Here are five stretches that we like to use to stretch muscles after a workout and improve flexibility. Be careful when stretching, you can overdo it and risk strains and tears. If the stretch is painful, don’t keep doing it.
Sit tall on the floor, legs out in a “V” shape as far as you can go. Grab your right foot or ankle with your right hand, leaning down. To deepen the stretch and stretch out your back, lean further over, reaching over your head with your left hand towards your right foot. Repeat this on the other side.
Sit tall on the floor, with your feet pressed against each other and knees out to either side. While you hold your ankles or feet, lean forward as far as possible, holding your knees to the floor. This stretches your glutes, back, and thighs.
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand with your feet right beneath your hips. Lift your right ankle and grab it with your right hand. For balance: stare at a point on the floor and/or lift your left arm up. If you still are struggling to balance, do this stretch next to a wall or chair you can use for balance. Repeat on the opposite side.
Cross Body Shoulder Stretch
This stretch is good for your shoulders and upper back. Begin standing, extending one arm across your body. Wrap the opposite arm around your extended arm, gently pulling until you feel your shoulder stretch.
From all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist. It may be just behind your wrist or to the outer or the inner edge of it. Your right ankle will be somewhere in front of your left hip. Slide your left leg back and point your toes, your heel is pointing up to the ceiling. Draw your legs in towards each other. Lower your upper body towards the floor.
This hip opening stretch is sometimes a bit tricky to explain, so if you’re confused, check out this video!
Over time, as you stretch more regularly, you’ll start to notice your stretches deepening and your flexibility increasing! A daily stretching routine can also help you prevent injury when you’re working out, and can improve performance in dance classes.