Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you that stretching is the most important exercise they do.
Just a few minutes before and after a warm-up or game can help prevent a career-ending injury.
But Tré Armstrong, one of the choreographers for So You Think You Can Dance Canada, says there are things to consider even before that.
“Never start to stretch before doing a bit of running,” she cautions. “It’s really important to get the blood flowing in the body. If not, your muscles might stiffen up in the cold.”
Dancers put a lot of strain on their legs through lifts and jumps, so it’s important to warm them up too, through a process Armstrong calls “the As, Bs and Cs,” lifting each leg to a different interval, one a time. “To get the agility to jump high, you gotta get you knees high in the warm-up.”
A 10-minute warm-up will do, Armstrong says, though she concedes every dancer’s routine is different and individuals should find what works best for them.
Finally, the mind is also a muscle and has to be warmed up just like the rest of the body, says Armstrong.
“That’s something that’s often overlooked. Before you do anything sit down for five minutes and scribble on a piece of paper or take out your Crackberry. It’s just to clear your head," she says. "Sometimes you get into a warm-up and you start to think too much. If you get rid of it and warm up your brain you’re clear to go.”