Warm-ups can either help you or go against you before dancing. It’s a time where you really prepare your body to perform in the best condition for an upcoming dance class or stage performance. It’s also important to do so if you want to stay dancing in the long run because it can help prevent unnecessary injuries.
But really, what makes a good warm-up that actually helps to improve your performance?
According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warm-up consists of four parts:
- Gentle pulse-raising
- Joint mobilization
- Muscle lengthening
- Strength or balance building
Here’s how you can incorporate these sections to do a good warm-up before dancing for better performance. Let’s get started!
1. Raise your pulse gently with light cardio
The idea here is to get your body temperature up. This will help to make your tissues become elastic and pliable, which is especially important when you’re in a colder environment.
Doing light cardio such as prancing on the spot or light jogging will help to get your breathing faster and increase your heart rate.
Remember that this is just light cardio, so don’t tire yourself out too much. Continue doing these small, continual movements for 1 – 5 minutes and you’re good to move on to the next section!
2. Do exercises that mobilize your joints
It’s important to warm up and mobilize your joints before starting a class or performing on stage. This will help to prepare your body to move in extreme ranges of motion and prevent injuries.
Here are some simple exercises you can do to mobilize your joints during warm up!
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent facing the ceiling and feet placed on the floor.
Open your right knee to the side as far as you can. Your goal is for your knee to touch the floor while keeping a neutral pelvis.
Slide your right foot along the floor till your knee is extended and your leg is back to parallel.
Repeat on the left side. Do this for 8 times on each leg.
Sit with your legs extended in front of you.
Circle your ankles using their full range of motion.
Make sure to go clockwise for at least 10 times before repeating in anti-clockwise.
Thoracic spine windmills on floor
Lie on the floor on your right side. Keep your knees bent to just past 90 degrees and rest them beside you on the floor.
Next, straighten the bottom right leg and rest your left leg on a foam roller or folded towel. Maintain the same position of your left leg as you do so.
Now extend both arms in front of you at shoulder height with your palms together. Slowly lift your top arm and rotate it to the other side so that your chest is now opened and facing the ceiling. Try your best to keep your hands on the other side of your body so that both arms seem to be making a connected straight line.
Hold this position for 5 seconds and take deep breaths while doing so. Slowly recover back by bringing your hands together again. Repeat this 5 times on each side.
3. Stretch and Lengthen Your Muscles
By this point, your body is already warmed and is ready for some stretching.
Stretching will help to increase the blood flow in your muscles. This especially important in preparing and loosening your muscles, ligaments, and joints for intense movements.
Take a lunge position and engage your glutes as you slowly move down into a deeper lunge. Focus on the stretch on your things while you activate your glutes. Repeat 8 times on each side.
Lie down on your back with your legs extended. As you keep your hips and lower back grounded on the floor, bend your right knee towards your chest while keeping your left leg straight.
Straighten your right leg so that the sole of your feet is facing the ceiling. You can use your hands to grab the back of your leg. Lightly pull your legs towards your chest while keeping your hips on the floor.
Hold this position for about 10-15 seconds before repeating on the other side.
4. Build Strength and Balance
Lastly, finish your warm-up with some strengthening and balancing exercises that emulate the type of dancing you’re preparing your body to perform.
Lie down on your back and place your legs in a tabletop position. Place your hands behind your lifted head. Keep your knees bent into your chest.
As you extend one leg, twist your upper body as you try to reach the opposite elbow with the opposite knee. Always focus on engaging your core as you continue the other side. Alternate your legs for 10 -15 repetitions.
Stand on both legs and ground them firmly by engaging your glutes. As you engage your core, stretch your leg behind you and slowly lift it up.
As your leg lifts, let your body slowly have a see saw motion by going down towards the floor. Keep your gaze down and your neck long as your body becomes parallel to the floor.
Continue to activate your core and balance in this position before lowering your legs back into standing position. Repeat this 5 times for each leg.
Get warm & limber!
So that’s it! Make sure you always do your warm ups before you start dancing because your body needs it to perform the best you can.
What other exercises do you do in your dance warm ups? Comment below because we want to know!
If you’re struggling to cope emotionally before a big performance, check out our tips on How To Cope With Performance Anxiety and Boost Your Performance!
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