Dancer Health

How to have a warm and stretchy winter

winter stretching tips for dancers

Have you noticed that it is more difficult to stretch your muscles when you feel cold? Or that it takes longer for you to feel “on?” This is not your imagination! When it’s cold out, and your starting temperature is lower, it’s even harder on your body than it is in nicer weather not to give yourself a legit warm-up. How can you tell if your warm-up is enough? You need to literally warm your body up from the core out to your fingers and toes, and the way to do this is to move around enough to get your heart rate and your breathing rate to increase. If you’ve broken a sweat, you’ve hit gold. Start with small movements at each joint, working your way through the entire body. Keep in mind that for the safety and stretch of your muscles, you need to get warm before you start to stretch! Stretching can be part of your warm-up of course, but do not start to push your flexibility or go to your maximum range until you are properly warm. Find the heat from inside and thoroughly warm up before dancing.

Get warm!

#1. Get your heart rate up!

If you’re not really warm on the inside, you’ve got to meet this threshold as a minimum. Getting your pulse rate up means more blood is in circulation, getting more oxygen and other goodies to your muscles. So, you’ll also start breathing more.

#2. Sweat!

You know you’ve actually started to get warm when you’ve started to sweat! Get that temperature up from your toes to your nose, and know you’ve probably reached a good starting point when you break a sweat.

#3. Give yourself time.

Sometimes it only takes five minutes, but however long it takes you to get your pulse up, breathe more rapidly and break a sweat is how long you need to leave for yourself to get ready for bigger and stretchier movement.

#4. Figure out your routine.

Try different exercises until you’ve got a lineup that gets every part of your body hot!

Stay warm!

#1. Wrap up.

Put on the baggy warm-ups when you need to retain heat. Air is actually a really good insulator when it is still and not blowing around, so wear clothing that traps the hot air near your body and doesn’t let chilly breezes in.

#2. Keep moving.

If you have a break during the day that is not too long, keep moving to prevent your body parts from getting cold and stiff. You don’t have to stay on your feet for this. Keep joints both large and small in motion; when you’re already warm is a great time to do dynamic stretching.

#3. Do it all over again.

It takes a whopping three hours, give or take, for your body to completely cool off. Don’t let it get there! When you need to be ready to dance, give yourself a minimum amount of time that you know it takes for you to go through your complete warm-up routine, and don’t settle for less.  Make sure your friends do it, too!

By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.

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