To prevent injury it is crucial that dancers stretch before getting into a routine, however in order to stretch properly your muscles already need to be warm. This is why it’s more successful to do some gentle aerobic exercise to get your heart beating, blood pumping and to well, ‘warm up’!

Some of the more effective exercises to get your heart rate up are: running, skipping, lunges, star jumps – or basically anything that gets you out of breath.


Next you need to stretch. It’s important that you push yourself enough to feel a pull but not so much that you feel pain, over-stretching can cause injury which defeats the point!

Legs – It’s best to start with your legs, dropping into a low lunge to feel a stretch in your quadriceps then extending your leg at a 45 degree angle in front and flexing your foot to feel a pull in your hamstring. You may also want to balance on one leg, pulling a foot towards your lower back, avoiding arching your back. Make sure you do the same on both legs.


Arms – Circling your arms is a good start to make sure they’re still warm before getting started on them. When they start to ache, pull one arm across your chest and pull it towards your body in a way that you can feel it in your upper arm. You can try reaching your arm over the top of your back, with your elbow next to your ear. Pull gently downwards on your hand using your other hand. Again, do the same with both arms.

Feet – To warm your feet up you can try pointing then flexing you foot then rotating it from the ankle clockwise then anticlockwise (or vice-versa), again with both feet. That should loosen your ankles, and then rise up onto the balls of your feet as high as you can and hold it until it aches then lower and repeat.

Neck – Your neck is very delicate so be extra careful when stretching it. Do not push it too far. To start, relax your head downwards, then curl down and hang your head. It should feel heavy and stress-free. Uncurl then slowly look left as far as you can without moving anything but your head. Then right, up and down. Repeat for as long as you need. You can roll your head, if you feel your neck crunch a bit it’s best to just roll your head in a semi circle, left, down then right.

Back – By rolling down you’ve already started on your back. To continue, get on all fours and rotate your hips straight forwards then straight backwards to hunch then arch your back. “Sad cat, angry cat!” a PE teacher once told me! The more you exaggerate the movement the better your stretch will be. When you’ve done this try some dissociation. Keeping your hips facing directly forward, rotate your upper body right then left as far as it will go without twisting your hips.

By Emma Langschied