I'll admit it; I am selfish. I'm writing this post mainly because it's going to be a compilation of my favorite tips and free stretch tutorials in one place for my benefit, and as a result, yours too. Anytime I feel my muscles tightening up and my splits getting harder (hello, marathon training), I do these stretches consistently for one week in order to get my right and left splits flat again. Yep, only one week. For my entire pregnancy plus 9 months, I did not even try to sit in my splits as I used to be able to do and when I finally got back into working out and stretching, I learned that consistency and easing into it was key.
My reintroduction to dance since having my twins, though, (specifically ballet and the occasional hip-hop class) has been a rude reminder of how much I have abandoned my pursuit of flexibility, and how vital flexibility is in maintaining those beautiful classic lines in dance as well as preventing pulling a muscle or having joint pain. (Recently without warming up I decided to see if I could do a scorpion stretch–where your foot or feet basically come up behind your head. I can't. Not yet...#goals). This attempt resulted in a stiff, aching hip for several days. SO let me be the one to say it: we all could use flexibility in our lives, and not just those of us attempting, at 31, to achieve a scorpion pose.
Here are some tips for flexibility and joint protection:
1. Warm up a little first: not necessarily an entire workout, but gently move and warm your muscles before easing in.
2. Take a turmeric supplement or add turmeric to your diet daily. (Have you tried my turmeric brookies yet??)
I am amazed at the difference adding turmeric into my diet has made in preventing joint pain and decrease inflammation in especially my wrists.
3. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. I know some people say 8, some people say 2 minutes; just aim for 30 seconds, and I mean 30 relaxed seconds. The tenser you are, the less beneficial it will be.
4. Be careful of over-stretching: do not stretch to the point of pain, or if it hurts, don't do it.
5. Soaking in Epsom salt. Warming, relaxing, relieving. Your muscles and joints will love this!
My absolute fave flexibility tutorial queen is Lisa Maree
Do these fantastic free YouTube videos to really see a difference in your stretchy-bendiness:
Side Split Stretches
Middle Split Stretches
Ballet Feet Exercises
It's amazing how many great YouTube tutorials there are! Search until you find one thats suits you, and your body.
The fun part:
Whether you have a little dance station set in home, or use the kitchen counters as a barre, or attend class, the clothing can be a fun way to combine function and fashion. These days it's easy to find ballet-inspired pieces from big names like lululemon and Free People, but you can find more affordable options online. These Amazon finds are cute, functional and comfortable and all under $20!! Woot woot! Click each image to see details, and get to that barre!
Comfy, 80s, and oddly alluring!
I love the professional and elongating look of the back seam. Plus they are convertible so you can wear them as crops or full tights.
Crops with ballet ribbon detail:
Perfect for the gym, studio, or out and about rocking the prima ballerina vibe!