As a dancer, flexibility is always something I have needed to maintain! In general, staying "nimble" is so good for your muscles, so I thought I would share my stretching routine! After all, I did this exact combination 7 days a week in high school, it targets every muscle group and it definitely helped to increase my flexibility!
Lets stretch :)
First, warm up! I did a few laps around the track, you could do jumping jacks, butt kicks, anything to get your muscles a little loose! Hold each stretch for a few 8-counts (if you're not a dancer, shoot for 30 seconds).
Now, start off by stretching your obliques! You'll feel a stretch on the long side of your torso (in this picture, you would feel it on your left side):
Starting with your right side, go "half way" down, keeping your back flat, and begin stretching your hamstrings. Don't push this too hard- in ALL stretches you should feel a slight resistance (hence the reason why you are stretching). Don't over-do it because it could result in a pulled muscle, ouch. It shouldn't feel unbearingly painful! If it does, stop!
Once that feels comfortable, bend down as far as you can go. The more you stretch, the easier this will become! Once again, don't push yourself too hard. And definitely DON'T FORGET to BREATHE!
Now take it down to runner's stretch. It is kind of hard to tell in this picture, but keep your front knee at a right angle. Extending your knee past that can cause problems in the future. Protect those precious joints :)
Allow your back leg to bend, and extend your front right leg. This will again stretch your hamstring. Pointe those toes :)
Allow your back knee to fall to the ground and continue extending your front (right) leg! You will feel the burn in your hamstring and left quadriceps. Breathe!
Now "switch" the position of your front and back leg! Bend your front (right) leg and extend your back (left) leg. Bend over towards your front leg. This will stretch out your glutes!
Sit up from your stretch and lean backwards! You will feel this in your back and left hip flexor! Careful on this one!
Almost done with the right side! Head back to runner's stretch.
Lastly, repeat this stretch (it should feel a little easier than the first time!) and you have completed the right side!
Now repeat all of that on the left side! After that, start stretching the "middle". Not sure why I always think of it that way, but it helped me to remember the sequence for all of these years! Stretch your inner leg muscles! (Is it me or do I look super creepy in this picture):
Take it down to the right side. You will feel this in your hip flexors!
Now, switch it to the left side:
And before sitting down on the floor, get a good stretch in, reaching as far as you can to the floor!
Now sit down, and put your legs in a "V". This is one stretch most dancers appreciate, and everyone else seems to hate it! I promise it will get easier with time. Stretch over to your right side, targeting your obliques and right hamstring. Attempt to keep both legs on the ground- you'll notice when you lean over, your opposite leg will try to come off the ground- resist it!
Next stretch the "inner" portion of your leg.
Hold it for a while, then switch to the left side....
Stretch the inner part of your left leg...
And the worst one.... down the middle. Breathe, breathe, breathe!
Butterfly stretch :)
And another good ole hammy stretch
Almost done! Stretch those glutes! Feels amazing after being sore from squats!
Left leg (and a smile doesn't hurt):
Stretch those quads... repeat on left...
Downward dog to lean everything out!
And you are DONE! Do you feel loose and flexible?
I hope this stretching routine is one you find effective! Remember, flexibility takes time, so make it a goal to stretch after workouts, or as many days as you have time for! Why not stretch while you are watching TV? Props to my sister photographer Paige for awkwardly snapping pics of me at my old high school :)