Sunday, November 20, 2016

Stretching for Dance

Before you do any type of stretching your body needs to be warm. Warm muscles are more pliable and less likely to result in injury. When warming you you need to start with a progressive warm up for 5-10 minute.2 A progressive warm up example is to walk, jog and then run. After you warm up, you may then begin to stretch.1

200401612-001_XS.jpgThere are three main types of stretching, ballistic, static and dynamic. Each stretch has its own use and effects. You want to choose your type of stretching depending on if you are improving flexibility, warming up or even cooling down. In dance, we happen to use all three types of stretching.1

Dynamic stretching is a stretch performed to elevate your heart rate and increase the range of motion in your joints.2 Examples of dynamic stretches are lunges, body weight squats, arm circles and leg swings.These stretches are done at the beginning of class to continue to warm up the body.1

Ballistic stretching is known to be dangerous and pull muscles but is performed by drill teams and dancers all over the country. Ballistic stretching is a big-movement stretch which is done quickly, with a bouncing movement. This stretch is only to be done after warming up your muscles with jogging in place, jumping jacks and other activities to get your muscles warm. A part of a dancers warm up is high kicks, these are classified as a ballistic stretch. During high kicks you are jumping and kicking your leg toward your nose, bringing it back down and repeating with the opposite leg.1

Static stretching is a stretch done to improve flexibility, this stretch is much needed after a dance class. This stretch brings down the heart rate and cools the body down while improving the flexibility of the dancer. If the dancer is aiming to maintain the flexibility they already have they will hold the stretch for 10-20 seconds. If they wish to improve their flexibility they will hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds or longer. In my dance class, we will spend the last 15 minutes stretching to improve our flexibility and we hold each stretch for one minute.1

Choosing wisely when stretching is important, take what you are trying to do and stretch accordingly. Dancers use all three, but you may only need one.


1Dale, P. (2013, January 16). What Are Three Different Types of Stretches? Retrieved October 03, 2016, from

2Slide show: A guide to basic stretches. (2014, April 9). Retrieved November 03, 2016, from


  1. Great blog post! I danced at two different studios. At my first studio we never stretched after class, only before and we never warmed up before stretching. At my second studio, they took it very seriously that we would take care of our bodies when warming up and stretching before and after class.

  2. This was a very informative article. I enjoyed revisiting the three types of stretching and when it's important to use the stretches.