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锘? If you are in classes that are only an hour long Dennis Rodman Jersey , I think it is better to do the whole class before stretching. If you are in longer classes you might get a break for stretching, or a stretching exercise from the teacher.

High extensions and split jetes are common goals in ballet. And what are you going to do if you were not born with those long ligaments, muscles and tendons? You will spending strength on fighting your own tightness, your ballet shoes and pointe shoes, while other very flexible dancers are trying to reign in their movements to maintain form and balance. But, ballet being the way it is, they look better during the struggle than the tighter dancers. Sheesh.....

Okay, so what are you going to do if you are not in a full-time ballet school with 10 +classes a week? You may be rushing from class to a bus stop, or being driven home to finish your home work. If that means sitting at a desk or a computer station, you may just end up cooling off those muscles and tightening everything up. Going from a neutral situation to a negative. We'll get back to this in the next article.

If you can stay after class, you will probably be doing the following:

I think you know already the regular stretching regimens of sitting on the floor, stretching the legs out in front to stretch the hamstrings ? one at a time Danny Granger Jersey , bending one knee, so as not to be stretching the lower back, flexing and pointing the foot. After slow stretching, I recommend completely relaxing the legs and letting the torso sink forward, with a few deep breaths. A la yoga, to release tension before going into a second position split.

The second position split should be opened as far as you can go WITHOUT pain. Ideally you want to have yourpelvis upright, and your knees facing the ceiling, with the backs of your thighs pressing into the floor. In other words you are mimicking the position your legsspine would be in if you were standing up. No tucking your hip bones under or swaying your back and rolling forward off your pelvic bone onto your thighs.

So in this position you will do a side bend toward one leg, hang there, breathing deeply, holding the legs straight but relaxing neck, shoulders Christian Laettner Jersey , face and arms. Circle forward, hold the abdominals, but allow the upper torso to bend forward toward the floor, keeping the legs with the backs of the thighs pressed into the floor. Then circle to the other leg, and then pull up into a straight position. You want a stretch but not anything producing sharp pains. You are applying stress to the soft tissues, but never painful or sudden movements.

Ahhh ? the splits. A full 180 degree splits depends on loose hamstrings, loose buttock muscles, loose hip muscles, loose inner thigh muscles (of the derriere leg) and also a loose spine (anterior muscles front of spine, and lateral muscles on either side of the spine. I don't have the ?Grey's Anatomy? lingo on all of this, but as I'm writing I'm feeling every muscle! (You may too, just thinking about it).When you are sitting in the splits it is like you are doing a backbend ? so you must have stretch in the anterior muscles at the front of the spine Chauncey Billups Jersey , front of the hips, and in the hamstrings of the leg devant.

So if you can only get, for example, down to a few inches from the floor (or halfway or three-quarter way down) stretch one leg at a time. Sit down and stretch one leg devant. Let the back leg bend, and focus on the front leg. Keeping it straight and turned out, pull forward slowly, and when you can't go any further, hold your lower abdominals and let your upper torso bend over. Your weight will effect the stretch, breathe deeply a few times, and then come back up to a straight position. Do this four times, and change legs.

As for the leg derriere, bend the front leg into a 90 degree angle so you can lean forward over it Caron Butler Jersey , and extend the back leg to a straight position. It will probably slide sideways so that it will not be behind the hip as it would if you were standing up. Slowly move upright, stretching the front of the hip, do NOT go to a point of pain. Stretching is DISCOMFORT, not pain. Lean forward releasing the tension, and turn your leg in. Then straighten up again, and you will feel the stretch in a different area. Do this several times and change legs.

Another great stretch is to do a side bend away from the derriere leg ? you'll stretch from your thigh through your hip area up the side of your torso.

To finally relax, sit in a splits position with both legs bent. Bend forward right onto your front leg and let the weight of your torso press your hip, inner thigh and groin muscles into a relaxed stretch. Breathe deeply a few times and change legs.

If you have any muscles or joints stinging and aching after classes, ice. Get a soft gel ice pack, and you can use it 15 minutes once per hour. Icing really feels good. Just make sure the ice pack is wrapped in a thin towel and does not touch your skin.

Another therapy is a hot bath with a cup or two of apple cider vinegar. This draws the lactic acid out of the muscles and is extremely relaxing. Epsom Salts are good too, I think vinegar is better. You won't smell afterwards, honest.

If you are a retired dancer Bill Laimbeer Jersey , or are on a hiatus from classes and miss that wonderful stretched out feeling, I highly recommend the Classical Stretch DVD's. Http:www.theballetstore has them stocked in the store!

Author's Resource Box

Dianne M. Buxton is a graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada. She continued dance training at The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, and Toronto Dance Theatre. She taught at, and choreographed for The National Ballet School, York University, and George Brown College, in Canada, and taught at Harvard University in the U.S. http:Create the ideal Office with Herman .

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