Ready to Dance: Essential Stretches for Social Dancers

Stretching  Woman smiling and stretching before ballroom dance class

Ready to Dance: Essential Stretches for Social Dancers

Social dance is increasingly popular these days, and any practitioner will readily explain why. It affords us fun, conviviality, creative expression, and the world's best excuse to exercise. But with any physical activity comes the unfortunate potential for injury. Obviously, no one wants to have to sit out the next dance.

So how can we employ a little preventative medicine? What exactly is in that magical elixir that will keep us dancing through our favorite songs for hours, for years? Well, let's take a few tips from the pros.

Your Instrument

Any time you intend to dance, it is wise to take a few moments before that first number to warm up and stretch. Ask any athlete, from runners to circus artists to competitive dancers, and they'll tell you that they all warm up before they rehearse, perform or compete. Many have elaborate rituals and props to aid this process, while others just run through a simple stretching routine. Whatever their approach, it keeps them on top of their game.

Even though we are "only" social dancing, let's take a cue from the pros and develop our own warm up. This is not only to prevent injury but also to maximize our performance on the floor by conditioning our only instrument: the body.

The Warm Up

First, take a brisk walk around the dance floor to get your heart pumping. This is the "warming up" part. The goal is to open up the blood vessels and get the circulation flowing to facilitate the rest of your stretch and, of course, the main event: the dance! If you can't traverse the floor, try a few jumping jacks in place.

The Stretch

Next, we want to run through a brief stretch of major muscle groups, as well as the feet. We want to maximize range of motion and notice any areas that may need extra TLC.

Raise your arms over your head with attention to your breath, bring them back and then down a few times, both directions, lubricating the shoulder joints.

Moving on to the legs, hold a wall or table for balance and bend your leg forward and back to get the hips and knees energized. Then, grab your foot behind you in the classic runners' stretch, elongating the quadriceps.

Finally, the feet. Those precious peds of yours will likely bear a lot of the work while you're promenading away. Take a minute or two to point and flex your feet, and rotate the ankles around in a circular pattern, both directions. This, of course, can be done while sitting down, as you scope out who you may be dancing with first.

The Rewards

Although easy to eschew as not really necessary, stretching for social dance reaps great rewards. Incorporating a brief stretch prior to busting out your best corte on the floor will offer a return on investment that you can never put a price on: longevity.

For more tips for fine tuning your instrument, contact us today!