Did you know that you need to warm up even before your morning walk? A good warm-up will limber up your muscles and lubricate the joints. All professionals do not jump “cold” into any strenuous activity. Instead, they ease into it after warming up and stretching. And when it comes to dancing, a good warm-up is extremely crucial.
Dancing involves movements that put enormous stress on your muscles and joints. Jumping into a dance session without limbering up is a sure-fire way to injury. In addition, warming up increases blood flow and heart rate. So, when you start taking dancing lessons, you need to learn the best stretches and exercises to loosen up.
How to warm up?
Most dance classes are designed to ease your body into the strenuous session slowly. But not all classes start with a thorough warm-up. Our warm-up exercises put your body through aerobic movements. This pumps up the heart rate and increases blood flow to all the areas of your body.
A short session on a treadmill or an elliptical stepper is excellent for warming up before dance, but not all have them. Our essential dance warm-ups will help you limber up, avoid injuries, and give your best in every dance session using minimal equipment.
Whether ballet or hip hop, our 7 best ways to warm up before dancing have it all covered, read on to know more.
1. Walking briskly and jogging
As mentioned earlier, walking briskly also requires your body to be warmed up. Start with a gentle pace and build up speed only when you feel warm. A brisk walk will get your heart pumping and the blood flowing. If you plan to jog instead, start slowly and then build up pace. Once you break a sweat, you’ve warmed up thoroughly.
Skipping is a quick way to warm up. All you need is a skipping rope. As with all other exercises, start slow and then build up pace. 3 sets of 50 will make you break out in sweat quickly. The jumping and hand movements are a great way to warm up. These small dynamic movements get the heart rate and blood flow up.
3. Jumping jacks
Jumping jacks are a great alternate to skipping. This exercise consists of a set of small, dynamic movements that prepare your muscles for a dance class. 3 sets of 20 jumping jacks will kickstart your warm-up.
- Stand upright with legs together with the arms at your sides.
- Bend your knees slightly and jump straight up.
- Raise your arms sideways, stretching high above your head until both of them meet.
- Land with your feet roughly a shoulder-width apart.
- Return to position and repeat.
Tip: Start slow and build up speed gradually. Strive for a fluid movement and avoid jerky movements.
4. Forward leg swings
This isolation exercise allows you to focus more on your lower body. Forward leg swings help increase flexibility and the range of motion in your lower body. They are also excellent for warming up and stretching your hip joint and hip muscles.
- Stand erect with your legs about a hip’s width apart. Hold on to a wall for balance if necessary.
- Slowly swing a leg backward and forward while keeping the other leg still.
- Ensure that the swing is a single, smooth movement.
- Switch to the other leg and repeat.
Tip: Start slow and aim for a fluid movement. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and your upper body stable.
Lunges are a classic way to stretch and warm up your lower body muscles. They also strengthen your core to give you improved balance- so vital for dance.
- Stand tall with feet a shoulder-length apart.
- Slide one foot backward until your front knee is bent, keeping the back leg as straight as possible.
- Hold the position and deepen the stretch by lowering yourself. If necessary, you can place your palms on the floor for balance.
- Repeat 10 times for both legs. Concentrate on deepening the stretch each time.
6. Hip swings, neck turns, and shoulder rolls
Now that you’ve warmed up most of your lower body, it is time to limber up other body parts that come into play while dancing.
Start with hip swings to limber up your hip. Next, stand upright with your feet a shoulder-width apart. Move your hips alternately from left to right. Repeat 10 times per side.
Next is your neck. It tends to become stiff if not warmed up properly before a dance session. For the neck turn exercise, stand erect with your hands on your hips. Then, look above your left shoulder by turning your head. Hold for a few seconds and then turn your head so that you look over your right shoulder. Hold for a few seconds and repeat 10 times.
Finally, your shoulders. Shoulder rolls minimize injuries to the neck and back. This exercise helps stretch the tendons and muscles near your shoulder. Stand erect with your head facing front. Rotate your shoulders to the front, making circles with them. Alternate by rotating to the back. It would be best if you felt your shoulder muscles stretch. Your back should be straight and breathing normal throughout.
7. Deep breathing
Breathing deeply helps increase your blood flow, and the oxygen-rich blood floods all the cells in your body. This activity must be done between the other exercises mentioned above for best results. It also calms your mind and puts you in a good frame of mind for a rigorous dance session.
- Inhale while counting to 5, then pause, and exhale for a count of 5.
- Repeat the cycle for few minutes.
Tip: Keep your jaw and forehead relaxed while breathing in. Allow your shoulders to drop and visualize all the tension going away from your back and belly.
The 7 best exercises described above help you warm up and stretch different parts of your body. However, as with any activity, a slow and steady start is strongly recommended. Avoid jerky movements, focus on the muscles you are working out, and visualize them stretching and loosening up. Getting your mind involved will give you better results.
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