Photo by Cooper Bilington

Bend, Don't Snap: The Right (And Wrong) Ways to Do Three Key Stretches

For dancers, stretching is one of those things that fall into the "second-nature" category—at some point each day, you'll likely be found in a split, a straddle, or with your leg up on the barre. But stretching incorrectly can cause some serious problems. Dance Spirit turned to athletic trainer and acupuncturist Megan Richardson, who's on staff at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, for advice on how to safely execute three common dancer stretches.


The Toes-to-Head: Stretches abdominals, back muscles

Photo by Cooper Bilington

DON'T...

Lie on your stomach and do a cobra pose, which only minimally stretches your muscles and can potentially harm your back

Force your back past its natural point of flexibility

Stretch until you feel a crunch in your back

Try to touch your head with your feet

The Lunge: Stretches hip flexors, psoas muscle, rectus femoris muscle

Photo by Cooper Bilington

DON'T...

Lean over your supporting foot.

Sink into your hips, which can overstretch and aggravate your hip joints.

Release and/or arch your back.

The Wall Straddle: Stretches inner thigh muscles

Photo by Cooper Bilington

DON'T...

Use a TheraBand or ankle weights to pull your legs down, which actually tightens the muscles you're trying to stretch, since they're actively working against the tension of the band.

Stay in the straddle for more than three minutes.

Use this stretch as part of your warm-up.

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

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