FAD Blog: Back into it for 2014! Starting with our Leg Flexibility!

Wed, 29 Jun 2016

Hi Everyone!

I’m Blake Harland and I am very excited to be bringing you the FAD BLOG each week!  My dance history started 17 years ago at the age of 4!!  I am a senior FAD Dance Instructor, Competition Cheer Coach and excited about my new role managing and delivering Instructor & Coach training at FAD Head Office.  My dance and cheer career includes personally competing and coaching teams at local, National and International competitions.  I’ve learnt many tips over the year that I’m excited to share with you in the FAD Blog!!

Unless you have all been stretching over the Christmas holidays, most of you will notice at your first class back this year that you may have lost some of your flexibility. Without regular stretching, muscles tend to lose their flexibility, and performing a high energy move without stretching (for example, any jumps of kicks) can often lead to injury. That’s why it is always so important to stretch before any form of physical activity. While it’s important to stretch before exercise, it’s also extremely beneficial to stretch after exercise, as this helps to minimise muscle tightening after physical activity.

This week’s focus is on leg flexibility, where we will outline some of the easiest and most beneficial stretches to help increase flexibility. By doing so, over time you will notice a big improvement in many areas, such as your splits, kick, leaps and jumps, and I’m sure your instructors will also be very impressed!

Squat Stretch (Adductor)

Start standing up, with feet in a rather wide stance. Keep feet and knees in a turned out position. Slowly lower into the stretch, focusing on making sure your knees are going over you big toe, not rolling in or out. Always keep your bottom tucked in and hands resting on your knees. Aim to get your hips in line with your knees, but don’t push it too far. Focus on correct technique for the stretch, and then stretch just past your comfort zone.

 

Pike Sit (Hamstring Stretch)

For this stretch, sit on the floor with legs out straight in front of you, knees and ankles together. While keeping the legs straight, bend forward at the hips trying to reach as far forward with the hands as you can. For those of you who are not quite as flexible, aim to reach your fingertips to your toes, and then aim to reach past your toes. For those of you who find this stretch easier, aim to wrap your hands around your heels and pull your elbows to the ground beside your knees. A variation of this stretch is to tuck one leg in, placing the bases of your foot against the inside of the opposite thigh. Keeping the opposite leg straight, follow the same guide for the standard pike sit, only this time you can focus the stretch on one hamstring at a time. Remember to always stretch on both sides!

 

Extended Leg Up (Alternate Hamstring Stretch)

Start lying on your back with both legs out straight. Trying to keep your lower back flat against the floor, raise one leg up to a vertical position. While keeping the top leg straight, wrap your hands around the back of the thigh, and slowly pull the leg towards your chest. Try to keep both legs straight and your lower back on the floor for the whole duration of the stretch. As with all stretches, remember to stretch both sides! For this stretch, you can get a partner to assist with pushing the leg towards your chest, but make sure they know when to stop pushing to help prevent injury.

Lunge (Hip Flexor)

Start kneeling with on foot on the ground, and other knee down, with hands on your hips. Focus first on tilting your pelvis/hips up to the roof, and then slowly lunge forward into the stretch. Make sure that when you are doing this stretch that your knee has not gone past your ankle. When lunging forward, your leg should be at a right angle, with your knee directly over your ankle. Make sure you stretch the other hip flexor as well!

 

A General Guide for Stretching

Breathe slowly, deeply and evenly

Don’t stretch to the point where breathing is strained or you are holding your breath

Don’t over stretch – stretch only to the point where you can feel the stretch without pain

Avoid bouncing the stretch – achieve the stretch and then hold it

Stretch only when the body is warm

Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds, and even longer if possible

Stretching and flexibility training should be done on a regular basis

Make sure you are always executing the stretch properly, so you can benefit entirely from the stretch, and receive the desired results

These are all really good things to remember when stretching to help increase your leg flexibility. Always remember to stretch safely to help prevent injury, and stretch as often as possible!

If you have any topics that you want to read or know more about please email me at blake@fitnessanddance.com.au

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Tags: Blog, Dance, Cheer, Flexibility, Stretches, Stretching

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