Best cool-down stretches

Cooling down after a dance class, rehearsal, or performance gives your muscles a chance to calm down after working so hard. Doing just a few simple stretches after dancing can help you feel more balanced and less sore the next day. Here are a few of our go-to cool-down stretches. Be sure to practice slow, deep breathing and to hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Calf stretch: Especially if you’ve been dancing in heels, lengthening your calf muscles can help prevent shin splints, Achilles pain, and stiff ankles. Practice calf stretches both with a straight back leg and then with a slightly bent back knee to stretch out the major muscles in your calves.

Quad stretch: Surprisingly, this exercise is commonly done incorrectly! To get the safest and most effective stretch, keep your knees touching and try to refrain from tipping your pelvis forward.

Hamstring stretch: Your muscles are nice and warm after dancing and that’s a great time to slide into your splits or straddle. In fact, doing these static stretches before dancing actually hinders performance and it’s best to do a more active warm-up beforehand.

Figure 4 stretch: Those hips can get tight after a long ballet class or a lot of jump kicks. Sit or lay in this stretch and wiggle around until you find that “sweet spot.”

Cat/Cow stretch: This is both a wonderful warm-up and cool down. It stretches out the muscles in your back and neck and can help with posture and balance.

Child’s pose: This yoga go-to is a perfect end to your cool down because it calms down both the mind and the body. Reach your arms forward and your hips back to get length in your spine from head to tail.

We’d also highly recommend spending some time on the trusty foam roller after a long day of dancing. Remember, taking the time to care for your body after class is just as important as the time spent in the studio!

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© 2020 by Mary Callahan