We're Just Getting Warmed Up: How to Really Get Ready to Move


                Most dancers try to warm up before rehearsing or performing but according to experts nearly all of them are doing it wrong. What people generally do is sit down and spend a couple of minutes stretching their legs. It turns out this isn’t the best way to get started and it’s works against them.

                According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science a warm-up should consist of 4 parts. They are a gentle pulse raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle straightening section, and a strength/balance building section. We’re going to go over them and show you exercises that will help you rev up your little dance engine.


               Before you begin make sure that you’re healthy enough for these activities. Consult a parent or doctor if you need to.


Gentle Pulse Raising Section:

               When your body’s temperature increases your tissues become more flexible. That’s why in the beginning you should concentrate on making your heartrate go up.

               Start with small, repeated movements like prancing in place. Gradually increase your speed until you’re in a light jog. Continue this for 1-5 minutes until your heart and breathing rates get faster.

               During the colder months of winter, you may need to spend more time on this section.


Joint Mobilization Section:

               You need to open up your joints, so they can do all that they need to once you begin to move. To help with this here are some exercises which are designed to improve your range of motion.


               Ankle Circles: Sit with your legs extended and circle your ankles. Repeat 10 times.


               Hip Circles: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Open one knee as much as you can while keeping yourself flat. Slide the foot of that leg along the floor until your knee is extended and your leg becomes parallel again. Repeat this 5-8 times for each leg.


                Arm Circles: Lie on the floor with your ribcage gently touching the mat and reach towards the ceiling. Circle your arms back and out to the side. Repeat 5-8 times in both directions.  


                Spine Flexion and Extension: Sit in a chair and bend your head down to flex your spine. After that raise your head back up to extend it. Repeat these actions 5 times.


Lengthening Your Muscles Section:

                 At this point it’s time to do some dynamic stretching. The point is to do stretches that are brief, less than 15 seconds, and stretches your muscles by activating the opposing ones. By doing this your stretches won’t work against you as you dance and will relieve your physical tension.


                Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest. Extend one of your legs by using your quad. Repeat 5-10 times.


                Thigh stretch: Put yourself in to a lunge position and slowly engage the glutes to move deeper in to it. Your thigh will stretch as you do this. Repeat 5-10 times.


Build Strength and Balance Section:

                 The final portion of this warmup includes some strength and balancing exercises.


                Oblique Criss-Cross: Lie on your back and put your legs in a tabletop position. Extend one leg while at the same time rotate the opposite shoulder towards the bent knee. Alternate legs and repeat 8-10 times.


                Bosu Balancing: For this exercise you’ll need to get a piece of equipment called a bosu ball. You can usually find one at your gym or wherever they sell workout gear. Stand on the ball and bring one foot up to the knee of the other leg. Make controlled movements with your working leg. Stay on the ball as long as you can and work to remain on it for 30-60 seconds.


                Warming up is an important part of physical activity. It allows the body to work at top form and keeps you from getting hurt. As we learn more about the human body and what it goes through as it performs our idea of a warm up changes. What we thought worked in the past may not be enough. A dancer needs to keep learning and try new things. When you warm up correctly it makes the performance that much better.




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