Stretch & Strength From Home
March 30th, 2020 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
As we have more time at home right now, it’s important to not lose your dance training. The first things to decline when missing class is your flexibility and strength. When you don’t have the space of your studio to jump, turn and kick, it can be hard to keep your training in tip top shape. In today’s blog, I’ve compiled a couple different ways to keep your flexibility and strength from fading.
*Note: When attempting the following stretch and strength exercises, please use caution and go at your own pace. Make sure you are warm before you begin. If something feels sharp, pull back and do what you can. These suggestions are simply to have some fun at home in your down time and keep up your dance training.
Teens and Seniors are especially susceptible to diminished flexibility if you’re not keeping at it. Here are a list of some at-home stretches using objects around your house.
Find a doorway in your home and stand perpendicular to the frame. Start by placing your back against the inside of the doorframe. Using the other side of the doorframe, bend one leg and place your foot on the opposite frame. Slowly and carefully start to slide your foot up, extending your knee, as much as you can. Brace yourself by pressing against the doorframe your back is butted up to. Be sure to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and alternate legs. It’s important to square off your pelvis and make sure not to lift your hip. Work on a straight posture as well and make sure you’re not rounding your back.
Find a raised flat area. For example, a kitchen counter, a grand piano or even the edge of your bed (if your bed is high enough). Make sure you are on a high enough surface so your feet don’t touch the ground. Sit and position your hips towards the edge. Lay back and fully extend your legs so they dip down towards the floor. Use your hands on the edge to brace yourself for stability. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hips. If you’re not feeling anything, adjust your position on the edge slightly forward or back until you feel the desired stretch.
Find a couch. Sitting on the floor with your knees and ankles together, wedge your feet under the small gap between the floor and the couch. Slowly and carefully start to extend your knees so your hips start to slide back. Be sure to keep your knees and ankles together to avoid sickling and feel a stretch on the tops of your feet. Be advised, this stretch puts a lot of pressure on the tops of the feet and is more of an advanced stretch. Beginning and intermediate dancers should use with caution.
It’s great to be flexible but, it means nothing if you don’t have the strength to support it. Using these house-hold objects, the following exercises can help with multiple dance positions and steps.
Find a staircase. With your feet planted on the floor at the bottom of the staircase, bend over and slowly walk your hands up each step until your body extends to a plank. Your body should be at a diagonal position. Hold this position for 30 seconds. If you would like to add an additional challenge, tap the first step on the stairs with your foot, alternating feet 30 times and hold an additional 30 seconds. Do not wear socks! Preferably have bare feet for optimal traction.
Using the edge of your bed, place hands towards the edge with finger tips pointing towards your heels and lift your hips off the seated surface with legs fully extended. Your points of contact should be your hands and your heels. Do 30 reps of bending and straightening your arms and feel the burn in the back of your arms. Be sure each time your arms bend that your elbows point directly back.
Using a piece of paper or, if you would like more of a challenge, a thin rug, place one foot on its surface. Using the strength of your foot, simply curl your toes and grip the surface. Try to gather inch by inch the paper or rug under your foot. Repeat 10 times and don’t forget to switch feet. You should feel the bottom of your foot working hard. This one is a little tricky but, fun and silly!
When you’re stuck at home it’s easy to become lazy and complacent. Continue to work your flexibility and strength with these simple at-home exercises and stretches. Stay healthy and happy and keep your dance training ready for competition!
Marissa Anderson is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.