Advice for Dancers
Getty Images

My artistic director suggested that I get surgery to fix my average flexibility if I want a company contract. Yet he casts me in nice roles even as an apprentice. I don't know what to do.

—Anonymous

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Health & Body
Sinking into positions when you're not aligned isn't doing you any favors. Photo by Getty Images

When it comes to flexibility, more isn't always better. Donna Flagg says that many of the dancers who show up at her Lastics Stretch Technique classes at studios like Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway are already hypermobile.

"They're so loose," she says, "they just yank their legs as far as they can." That's not to say that hypermobile dancers shouldn't stretch—they just need to take extra care to keep their joints safe. Flagg recommends a few guidelines:

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Advice for Dancers
Stretching for 30-second intervals throughout the day is an effective way to improve flexibility. Getty Images

It's been three months since I pulled my hamstring while working extra hard on my flexibility in hot yoga. I've done physical therapy every week. But even though it's now healed, I feel pain as soon as I try to dance. Why can't I get over this?

—Meghan, New York, NY

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

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:

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Dance Training
Sylvie Guillem, via 1843magazine.com

Ever find yourself lusting after that six o'clock penché, or a développé that will reach your nose? You're not alone. The eye is naturally drawn to the end points of a movement, and, in dance, that often translates to the highest extension.

But what if you're born without extreme, Instagram-worthy lines? It's a matter of developing a laser focus on alignment as well as strengthening and stretching with better body mechanics in mind.

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Advice for Dancers
Photo by Nathan Sayers, modeled by Jane Anthony.

I've noticed that my flexibility, which is pretty good, varies throughout the company's season. Why does this happen, and what can I do about it?

—Jillian, Brooklyn, NY

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Health & Body
LINES dancer Courtney Henry. Photo by Quinn Wharton

We always figured that stretching made us more flexible by loosening up our muscles and joints. Some of us, ahem, might have even tried to fall asleep in our middle splits to get our stubbornly stiff inner thighs to let go.

But it turns out that might not actually be how stretching works.

A new review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports suggests that increased flexibility actually comes from your brain growing more used to the tension.

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Health & Body
Jim Lafferty

Dancers looking to increase their flexibility rarely think about their upper backs. But this common place of tension could limit your neural mobility.

"The mobility of your back, especially your upper back, is very important when thinking about the mobility of the nervous system, fascial system and flexibility in general," says leading dance physiotherapist Lisa Howell in her Front Splits Fast Program. "If your upper back is very tight, then the nerves and fascia that lie along the spine can get restricted."

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