23 Mar How to Gain Flexibility
Something I’ve had to work for throughout my ballet career as a student is flexibility. I was born able to do my splits, but I soon realized that flexibility meant more than that. This year especially, I’ve really tried to work on my extensions. I’m really strong, almost to the point of being muscle-bound, so I still work on strengthening my core and back, but more so on stretching my middle splits, back, and hip flexors. Because of this, I’ve seen a difference in my side extension and arabesque.
I roll out every day. Rolling out is very important. If I miss a day of rolling out, I feel a difference. I try to do it once in the morning and once at night, but sometimes I only have time to roll out at night. I start with my IT bands, then move to my quads. I don’t move rapidly. If I feel tight in a particular spot, I stay there for a while and think about my muscles melting into the roller. After my quads, I move to my calves. If I’m especially sore, I try to get my whole body.
After rolling out, I go to my splits. I know I said I already have my splits, but I like to start here. Once my muscles relax here, I put one foot on the roller and stretch my over splits. I start with my front leg on the roller, and then the back leg. The over split with the back leg is a little challenging for me because that’s technically my arabesque, and I definitely struggle in that area. Then, I do a regular split on both sides, with my back leg turned in. I can’t get all the way down in this one because that hits the hip flexor, and I’m (as well as most dancers) really tight there.
Next is the middle split. I have a tight middle split. Luckily, it’s gotten so much better this year. I let myself lean forward, without flipping my hips. Once I’ve gotten my muscles to relax there, I go through my hips. I hang out there, telling myself to relax. My inner thighs have a hard time letting go. Then I bend my legs into my frog, or pancake, or whatever you call it. By then, my muscles are already relaxed, so I don’t need to spend too much time there.
Lastly, the quads and hip flexors! I do the classic runners stretch. The twist to it is that I hold myself as upright as possible and think about my ribs going down, and I squeeze my glutes, pressing my hips forward. I know, that sounds like a lot, but it really gets to my hip flexors! I can also grab my back foot, and double whammy, I’m getting to my hip flexors and my quad muscles.
I take private lessons in pilates, and I like to stretch on the reformer. It adds resistance and adding resistance to any stretch really increases the flexibility.
I hope this was helpful! Comment below, or on my Instagram, if you have any blog posts you’d like to see!
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