Open up the small muscles before you move on to the bigger ones during a stretching session. Photo by Justyn Warner/Unsplash

5 Ways To Become More Flexible, According to Stretch Therapists

Dancers are always trying to find more flexibility in their bodies. But what's the best way to do it?

We asked former dancers Ann and Chris Frederick, creators of Fascial Stretch Therapy, which targets connective tissue rather than isolating individual muscles. They recommend following these five principles to find the greatest range of motion within your body:


Don't just hold one position.

LINES dancer Courtney Henry. Photo by Quinn Wharton

Move through stretches in gentle waves. Not only will motion better prepare your body for dancing than sitting in a static position would, it also opens up different angles within a stretch.

Create space in the joint first.

Open up the joint, then bring your limbs closer to you. Photo by Unsplash

By gently pulling a limb away from the socket (such as the hip joint) before going into a stretch, you'll be able to stretch further.

Stop before it's painful.

If you go too far, the brain will fight back. Photo by Emily Sea/Unsplash

The brain interprets pain as a signal that something is wrong, so a painful stretch ends up being counterproductive.

Stretch with a bent knee before stretching a straight leg.

Open up the hips and glutes before the hamstrings. Photo by Justyn Warner/Unsplash

"There are 34 muscles across your hips—why would you start with the toughest hamstring muscle?" asks Chris. By stretching the smaller muscles in the hip and back first, you can increase the hamstrings' range of motion by 20 to 50 percent.

Have someone else do it for you.

When you're lying down relaxed, an expert can find imbalances that you might not notice yourself, then give you stretches that you can do on your own before chronic injuries appear.

You can find a fascial stretch therapist near you at stretchtowin.com/directory.

Latest Posts


Courtesy Ballet West

Celebrating 75 Years of Sugar Plum

America's oldest Nutcracker celebrates its milestone 75th anniversary this month.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Alvin Ailey surrounded by the Company, 1978. Photography by Jack Mitchell, © Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. andSmithsonian Institution, All rights reserved.

You Can Now View More Than 10,000 Photos From Jack Mitchell's Alvin Ailey Collection Online

From 1961 to 1994, legendary photographer Jack Mitchell captured thousands of moments with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Now, this treasure trove of dance history is available to the public for viewing via the online archives of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The collection includes both color and black-and-white images of Ailey's repertoire, as well as private photo sessions with company members and Ailey himself. Altogether, the archive tracks the career development of many beloved Ailey dancers, including Masazumi Chaya, Judith Jamison, Sylvia Waters, Donna Wood and Dudley Williams—and even a young Desmond Richardson. And there's no shortage of photos of iconic pieces like Blues Suite (Ailey's first piece of choreography), Cry and Revelations.

We couldn't resist sharing a few of our favorites below. Search the collection for more gems here.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Our Wish List for the Next Decade of Dance

There are lots of gift guides floating around the internet this time of year. But the end of the decade has us thinking about more than presents.

As much as the dance world has evolved over the past 10 years, there's still a lot of work to do. So we started pondering: If we could ask Santa for our wildest wishes, what would we want to him to bring us in the '20s?

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest