Have you ever seen a dancer with the flexibility, strength, and control to create perfect lines in their leg extensions? If so, you’ve probably been inspired to elevate your own extensions in class and on stage.
The first step to create gorgeous extensions is to develop the flexibility to get your legs up there. Here are three stretches you can do at home to benefit your extension:
Barre Stretch and Leg Lifts
Stand about a leg’s distance from the barre, facing the barre, with parallel feet. Lift the right leg to a parallel developpe devant with the ankle resting on the barre. With a straight standing leg, bend your torso over the leg to engage and stretch the hamstrings. Return to standing and repeat 3 more times.
With a straight back and square hips, attempt to lift the leg from the barre as high as you can without allowing your anatomy to move out of place. Return the foot to the barre. Repeat 10 times and switch to the left leg.
Once you’ve done your torso folds and leg lifts on the right and left sides, try the same exercise in a turned out devant position. You can also do this exercise with the leg extended to the side in turn out.
Seated Leg Holds
Begin in a butterfly position with the soles of the feet together and the knees opening towards the ground. Keep your toes grounded into the floor and lift your heels to engage your hip rotators. Keeping the back straight, shoulders down, and abdominals engaged, take the arch of your right foot with your left hand and lift it toward your nose. Use your right hand to support your right calf and encourage deeper turnout. Take 10 deep breaths as you continue to stretch the leg higher and higher, keeping the knee straight with both hips on the floor. Release the leg and change to the left.
Once you’ve stretched both legs forward, return to the butterfly position. Fold the torso over and hold for 30 seconds. Return to the butterfly.
Take the arch of the right foot into your right hand and the arch of your left foot into your left hand. Attempt to balance in a second position split with both feet extended out beside your ears. Keep your back straight, neck long, shoulders down, and rib cage held in. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
After your barre splits and butterfly stretches, you’ll be warm and ready to stretch your splits. For at least 30 seconds each, sit in your right forward split, left forward split, and center split.
As with all of these stretches, if you notice that one leg is significantly more flexible than the other, I encourage you to stretch your less flexible leg for a longer amount of time. By doing this, you will, eventually, manage to balance your flexibility between your two body halves.
Not only does even flexibility allow you to create beautiful extensions on both sides, but it also helps you avoid injury!
Please, dancers, try these stretches on your own.
Don’t have a barre? Use a chair or table!
Think you don’t have time? Stretch while you're watching TV!
Already very flexible? Keep your eye on the blog for leg strengthening exercises next week! ;)
-- Team BoPPA x
Not sure you can do all these stretches on your own? Come into class, and let BoPPA teachers show you how. Contact us for a free trial class!