Why is warming up before class important?
One of the most essential things to know as a dancer is how to properly warm up your body and its importance. This will help prevent injuries, improve stability, and promote flexibility. My favorite visual is that your muscles are rubber bands. If you stretch a frozen a rubber band, it will snap. This represents your muscles without a warm up. A warm rubber band will stretch and maintain shape. This represents your muscles when warm.
Step One: Cardio will raise your heart rate and promote blood flow. If you are not sweating, it is not time to stretch. Also, rolling out warm muscles will promote relaxation and provide a deeper massage.
Step Two: There are two different kinds of stretching, static and active. Static stretching consists of sitting in one position for a long period of time. This can cause micro-tears in the muscles that will heal tighter. Active stretching is moving through a few positions and holding each pose for a few seconds. (rocking in and out of a lunge, rolls up/down, pedaling your feet in downward facing dog) Constant motion is key to producing elastic muscles.
Step Three: This does not mean you have to do a hundred push-ups. For strength, it is very important to see where you are weak or if you have an injury. If your feet or ankles need stability then break out a theraband. If your abs haven’t been turned on yet, get into a plank. Muscle balance is important in order to execute demanding movements and sustain positions. Lastly, after class is the time to static stretch and cool down. This will help bring your heart rate back down and release tension. After class is when your muscles are most receptive to stretching
Jenny Rose Kineavy is a TOCD alumni who graduated in 2015. She currently attends the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she is working to obtain a BFA in Dance alongside a Minor Degree in Creative Writing.