Health & Body

*This* Is How You Should Actually Warm Up Before Dancing

How do you warmup? Photo by Jim Lafferty

For many dancers, a "warmup" consists of sitting on the floor stretching their legs in various positions. But this strategy only reduces your muscles' ability to work properly—it negatively affects your strength, endurance, balance and speed for up to an hour.

Save your flexibility training for the end of the day. Instead, follow a warmup that will actually help prevent injury and improve your body's performance.

According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warmup has four parts: "a gentle pulse-raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle lengthening section and a strength/balance building section."


Here's how to put those four recommendations into practice:


Gently Raise Your Pulse

When your body's temperature increases, your tissues become more pliable and elastic. (You may need to spend more time on this during colder months, like February.)

Start with small, continual movements, such as prancing in place. Gradually increase the range of motion and pace to something like light jogging. Continue for 1-5 minutes until your breathing gets faster and your heart rate increases.

Start every warm up by gently getting the blood moving


Mobilize Your Joints

Gently open up the ankle joints, hip joints, shoulder joints and spine during your warmup so that once you're dancing, they're prepared to move through more extreme ranges of motion.

1. Ankle Circles

Sitting with your legs extended in front of you, circle your ankles through their full range of motion, making your circles bigger each time. Repeat 10 times in both directions.

2. Hip Circles

Lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, open one knee to the side as far as you can while keeping a neutral pelvis. Slide your foot along the floor until your knee is extended and your leg returns to parallel. Repeat 5-8 times on each leg.

3. Arm circles

Lying on your back with your ribcage gently touching the mat, reach your arms toward the ceiling. Circle your arms back and out to the side. Repeat 5-8 times in both directions.

4. Spinal Flexion and Extension

Sitting on a chair, bend your head toward your knees to flex your spine. Then reverse the movement to articulate your spine into extension. Repeat 5 times.


Lengthen Your Muscles

Once you're warm, do some dynamic stretching. Brief stretches that are held for less than 15 seconds and lengthen the muscles by activating the opposing muscles won't negatively affect your performance and can help relive any tension.

Hamstring Stretch

Lying on your back, bend your knee towards your chest. Extend your leg by engaging your quad. Repeat 5-10 times.

Thigh Stretch

From a lunge position, slowly engage the glutes to move down into deeper lunge to stretch the thigh. Repeat 5-10 times.

Photo by Nathan Sayers


Build Strength and Balance

Finish your warm up with strengthening exercises and some balance training.

Oblique Criss-Cross

Start by lying on your back with your legs in a tabletop position. Extend one leg while rotating the opposite shoulder towards the bent knee. Alternate legs for a total of 8-10 repetitions.

Bosu Balancing

Stand on the bottom of a Bosu Ball, and bring one leg to retiré. Challenge your balance by adding controlled movement of the working leg. Work up to balancing for 30-60 seconds.

Show Comments ()
BalletMet in company class onstage before a show. Photo by Jennifer Zmuda, courtesy BalletMet

Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.

She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.

But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
PC Lydia Daniller, Courtesy Dorsey

I love being transgender. It's an important part of the story of why I choreograph. Although I loved dance from a very young age, I grew up never seeing a single person like me in dance. So how could I imagine a future for myself there?

The enormous barriers I had to overcome weren't internal: I didn't struggle with feelings of dysphoria, and I wasn't locked down by shame.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Screenshot via YouTube

It's easy to feel whiplashed thinking about everything Emma Portner has achieved in such a short amount of time. Last fall, the 23-year-old was the youngest woman ever to choreograph a West End production (it was based on Meat Loaf's greatest hits). This was, of course, after she already choreographed and starred in Justin Bieber's viral hit "Life is Worth Living," and before she charmed major media outlets when she secretly married actress Ellen Page. Now, she's L.A. Dance Project's first-ever artist in residence, and she's working on a commission for Toronto's Fall for Dance North Festival.

We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Gaga teacher Amy Morrow says investigative styles can help any dancer. PC Ascaf Avraham

In today's dance world, it seems to go without saying: The more varied the training, the better. But is that always the case? Rhonda Malkin, a New York City–based dance coach who performed with the Radio City Rockettes, thinks trendy contemporary techniques that emphasize improvisation and organic movement quality are detrimental to the precision and strength needed to be a Rockette, in a traditional Broadway show or on a professional dance team. Her view is controversial: "If you really want to work, making $40,000 in three months for the Rockettes or $25,000 in one day filming a commercial, you need ballet, Broadway jazz, tap, hip hop—not contemporary," she says.

On the flip side, techniques that allow dancers more freedom may help them connect more deeply with their body and artistry, while providing release for overused muscles. We broke down the argument for both sides:

Keep reading... Show less
News
via Facebook

The dance community is heartbroken to learn that 14-year-olds Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran were among the 17 people killed during the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

Guttenberg was a talented competition dancer at Dance Theatre in Coconut Creek, FL, according to a report from Sun Sentinel. Dance Theatre owner Michelle McGrath Gerlick shared the below message on her Facebook page, encouraging dancers across the country to wear orange ribbons this weekend in honor of Guttenberg, whose favorite color was orange.

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking
Former NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins resigned in January in the midst of an investigation into allegations of harassment and abuse. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

A statement released yesterday by New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet reported that an independent investigation was unable to corroborate allegations of harassment and abuse against former ballet master in chief Peter Martins, according to The New York Times. This marks the end of a two-month inquiry jointly launched by the two organizations in December following an anonymous letter detailing instances of harassment and violence.

The statement also included new policies for both the company and school to create safer, more respectful environments for the dancers, including hiring an independent vendor to handle employee complaints anonymously. These changes are being made despite the independent investigation, handled by outside counsel Barbara Hoey, purportedly finding no evidence of abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Lauren Lovette, photographed by Jayme Thornton

Not all ballet dancers cling to their youth. At 26, Lauren Lovette, the New York City Ballet principal, has surpassed the quarter-century mark. And she's relieved.

"I've never felt young," she says. "I can't wait until I'm 30. Every woman I've ever talked to says that at 30 you just don't care. You're free. Maybe I'll start early?"

Keep reading... Show less
News
Mark Morris Dance Group in Pepperland. Photo by Gareth Jones, Courtesy MMDG

When Beatlemania swept through the U.S. in the 1960s, Mark Morris was one of millions of young Americans who fell head over heels for the revolutionary group. "I was not immune," the choreographer says. "My sisters were mad about The Beatles and so was I. At age 12 I had a crush on Paul, of course."

Flash forward 50 years and he is still rocking to the British band, but this time with a new Beatles-inspired dance work his company is touring across North America, starting this month with scheduled stops in Seattle, Toronto, Portland, Oregon, and another 25 cities before the end of 2019.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance History
"Ceremony of Us: Recaptured," PC Ella Bromblin

One reason I love to teach is that sometimes students come up with great ideas.

Ceremony of Us The original Susan Landor photo of Ceremony of Us workshop from 1969

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M

You could call it island-hopping, but it's not exactly a vacation. After choreographing last season's Come From Away, and winning a Tony nomination, Kelly Devine zipped from frosty Newfoundland to the Caribbean beach resort that is the setting for Escape to Margaritaville.

In the fall, she was shuttling between them, before they start this month: flying to Toronto to prepare a new Canadian production of Come From Away, then jetting back to Chicago for the final stop of Margaritaville's four-city pre-Broadway tryout.

"These two shows could not be more different from each other," Devine says with a dash of understatement. Come From Away is about the small Newfoundland town where airliners grounded by the 9/11 attacks dumped thousands of unexpected visitors; Escape to Margaritaville, at the Marquis Theatre, is a comic island romance concocted from the beachcomber songbook of Jimmy Buffett.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Viral Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Giveaways