Stretch Pitfall “Lack of Consistency” and the Solution To It
A pitfall is a hidden or unexpected challenge! And here’s the thing…we all run into them from time to time. But when you find yourself falling into stretch pitfalls, you need to identify and address them. Otherwise, they will negatively affect your stretch programs and efforts. This will directly affect your dancer’s flexibility, mobility, technique and performance by causing “gaps” to form in their technique. And no one wants gaps….
One common and sneaky pitfall comes in the form of “lack of consistency”. In my 20+ years of working in the dance world I have seen it creep in many times.
So what does lack of consistency look like? Well it looks like the opposite of consistency…and I think we can all agree that consistency is key to safe and effective progression in anything you do, including the way you stretch!
With consistency in your stretch efforts, you are able to streamline your stretch system. As a result, your stretch efforts become efficient and effective. And who doesn’t want that?
We all do right? So why do we fall short and become inconsistent with our stretch efforts as the year goes on? Generally this ties back to pitfall, “lack of time”…
I think it’s fair to say that we all begin the dance season with the best of intentions. Including a strong effort to stick to a proper warm up and consistent stretches. But as we get into the year and competition season and performances get closer, it’s easy to let your warm ups and stretches slip to the side, with the best of intentions to do them “next week”.
But we all know “next week” won’t bring with it less to do….
So…instead you’ll want to find a SOLUTION to stretch pitfall “lack of consistency”.
And the solution is…follow a comprehensive, easy to implement weekly stretch curriculum. That address and covers the following:
- What muscles to stretch: This refers to the exact muscles and muscle groups you need to stretch to safely achieve dance specific movements on a weekly basis.
- Why to stretch them: This refers to understanding muscular opposition. When you understand which muscle groups oppose a movement you will know what muscles to stretch to improve that movement. Say for example you have a student struggling to get the splits. The solution to this is NOT having the student do the splits more often. The solution is providing the student with the proper stretches what will allow for the movement to happen..
- How to stretch them: We have already established that variety is key to safe and effective stretching. Not only is it important that you stretch a variety of muscle groups, it is also important that you stretch each muscle group in a variety of ways. This is due to the fact the specific muscles within muscle groups can have various origins and insertions. Therefore, you will need to stretch those muscle groups in a variety of ways to ensure all muscles are appropriately stretched. Confused? Let me give an example…your hamstrings are made up of 3 different muscles: The Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus (medial hamstrings) and Biceps Femoris (lateral hamstrings). Due to their orientation and attachment sites it’s best to vary your hamstring stretches in an effort to target both the medial and lateral hamstrings. Otherwise, you won’t achieve full flexibility in the hamstrings. Flexibility will be limited by the position of the hip.
- And what to call them: Your stretches need a name. This creates recognition. It changes something from strange to familiar. And your dancers should be very familiar with the stretches they are doing on a weekly basis. Imagine trying to teach a ballet class without using ballet terminology! Without a name, it would take a lot of extra time to teach a plié. Using proper dance terminology cements the meaning of the word with the action. This allows for greater retention and progress. Your stretches should NOT be any different.