Sneak peek: stretches to avoid

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Liz Hewett with student.
Liz Hewett with student.

Stretching is a standard part of a dancer’s exercise regime. But are there times when it shouldn’t be done? Susan Bendall asks Liz Hewett and Donna Oliver, both experienced exercise physiologists and former dancers.

Are there any specific stretches that should be avoided?

  • Any prolonged stretch held for 20 minutes or more. Three to five repetitions of a 30-second hold is sufficient to increase range of muscle tissues
  • Partnered stretches, unless guided by a professional 
  • Side split stretches that takes a dancer into pain in their hips rather than muscles
  • Frog – on tummy
  • Roll throughs
  • Extreme and strong back extension stretches: for the adolescent dancer there is a risk of injuries to the developing spine

It is almost impossible to think about dance without conjuring the notion of stretching. Those who are super-flexible or hyper-mobile often love the sensation of a good, long, stretch. Those who struggle with flexibility might either avoid stretching or overdo it in an attempt to improve. The good news is that you can improve your flexibility. The bad news is that each body has its own natural range which places limits on how far we can push it without doing damage.

This is an extract from the full article in the current issue of Dance Australia (June/July/August). Buy your copy at your favourite dance shop or online here.



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