Like any other athletic movement, dancing can put a tremendous amount of stress on your muscles and joints. So, if you want to avoid injuries and continue bustin’ moves well into your twilight years, it’s essential to properly warm-up before strutting your funky stuff.
Unfortunately, when most people ‘warm-up,’ they start with static stretches, which are almost as bad as not warming-up at all.
Reports suggest that static stretches weaken your muscles when performed before physical exertion, and a dynamic warm-up session is much more effective for priming your body to cut a rug.
Here are five excellent warm-up exercises that you can mix and match to prevent injury and get the most out of your dance routines.
1. Jumping Jacks
‘Jumping Jacks’, (or ‘Star Jumps’ if you’re five years old) are an easy low-impact method to get your heart rate elevated and your limbs warmed up without risking injury.
In the unlikely event that you’ve never done a Jumping Jack, here’s how.
Start with your hands by your side and feet together. In one fluid motion, jump your feet apart (just past shoulder width) and laterally raise your hands above your head. Immediately reverse the movement by simultaneously jumping your feet back together and bringing your hands back to your side.
Performing Jacks for 60 seconds is an excellent way to begin your warm-up.
2. Bodyweight Squats
Bodyweight squats are a fantastic way to warm up your legs and glutes. While squats are a little more taxing than Jumping Jacks, when performed correctly, they’ll get you ready for your dancing session.
Start with a wide stance (feet positioned under your shoulders) and point your toes slightly outwards. While keeping your chest up, back straight, and heels on the floor, lower your butt until your quads are parallel to the ground.
Pause for a second at the bottom before pushing through your heels and straighten your legs, pushing your hips forward slightly at the top to complete the move.
Perform three sets of ten to fifteen repetitions as part of your warm-up.
Yoga is one of the most effective ways of taking care of your body and wellbeing. Though yoga can be incredibly challenging and complex, there are some simple yoga moves that are perfect for warming up your upper and lower body.
While we don’t have enough space to explain all the moves here, performing this ‘Gentle Yoga Warm-Up’ will provide you with a dynamic full-body warm-up to help you relax and regulate your breathing.
These exercises will require a little practice to get them down, so don’t worry if you have to watch the video a few times first.
4. Crab Walks
Once you’ve performed a couple of warm-up exercises, doing crab walks is an excellent way to activate your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
While you can perform this move without any equipment, use resistance bands to get the full benefits of this exercise.
Take a stance with your feet around hip-width apart, with a light resistance band positioned just above your knee. Bend your knees slightly until you’re in a partial squat, and keep your chest up and back straight.
While maintaining a strong stance with your knees tracking outwards following your toes, take a large step to your left (without letting your knees collapse) before following with your trailing foot.
Take as many steps in one direction as your space will allow, and repeat the process to return to your starting position using the opposite leg. Two to three sets should suffice.
5. Standing Lunges
Standing lunges can be quite taxing on your quads, glutes, and knees, so if you plan on using them as part of your warm-up, it’s probably best to save them until the end of your session.
Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart while maintaining a neutral spine. Take a large step forward with your right foot and lower your left knee carefully to the floor until your right knee is at a 90-degree angle (make sure your knee doesn’t track out over your toes).
Pauses for a second at the bottom before pushing off your toes and propel yourself back to your starting position.
Repeat the process with your left foot and return to your starting position. Repeat for ten to twelve reps per leg.
Listen to Your Body …
As with all exercises, even warm-ups have the potential to cause injury if performed incorrectly,
If you’re unsure about any of these warm-up exercises or feel any pain or discomfort while performing them, stop what you’re doing immediately and consult your doctor or physician.
Your body gives you all kinds of feedback when you’re exercising … Listen to it.